Coleg Plas Dwbl: redeveloping the heart of the site
Location: Mynachlog-ddu, Pembrokeshire, SW Wales
Client: Plas Dwbl College
First contact: August 2019
Design handed over: February 2020
Themes: Forest Gardening; Education; Therapeutic benefits; Land restoration
Plas Dwbl is part of the Ruskin Mill Trust, a Further Education College aimed at supporting young people with behavioural needs to stay in education. Having previously been a biodynamic farm, the site was acquired by Ruskin Mill College for their work in 2011. I was approached by college staff as a consultant to redevelop one of their fields into a forest garden. A major incentive was to have a place where each student could plant a tree or shrub upon their graduation.
Forge Field is located in the centre of the Collge, but gave a neglected impression, having hsitorically been used as a dumping ground. In conversation with site staff, the following potential functions for the area were identified:
- An area to locate graduation trees (and other plants) for students
- A space for social interaction
- A more beautiful space
- A space to connect and bring together adjacent spaces, structures and their functions
- An area to grow food and craft products
The main limitation was the small amount of time available on site, together with the appalling weather on the day and the fact that the growing season had well and truly finished. I highlighted this in my report and recommended additional surveys during the growing season.
My design proposals followed the phased approach requested by the client. Within that, recommendations were presented against each of the function of the design listed above. I included a pattern-plevel maintenance plan for daily, weekly and seasonal operations which will be useful for many other forest garden sites, as well as recommendations for the first 12 months of site development.