Designing a food forest in Nuenen

Posted on ma 07 januari 2019 in designs • Gewijzigd op 15 april 2019

Overview map

Overview map (courtesy of OpenStreetMap) © OpenStreetMap-auteurs. The red area shows where the food forest is located within the grounds of the Weverkeshof.


The Weverkeshof is a city farm in Nuenen. They would like to convert a (small) part of their grounds into a food forest. This page details how we went about this.

Design team

The core design team consisted of:

  • Arno Peters (permaculture designer)
  • Marjan van Duin (garden group Weverkeshof)
  • Susanne Cornelissen (permaculture teacher)
  • Petra Schmitz (permaculture designer)
  • Aline Valstar (education Weverkeshof)

Other contributors:

  • Paul Koppelman (chair Weverkeshof)
  • Theo van Lieshout (infrastructure Weverkeshof)
  • Ina Heinz (permaculture designer)

Interested parties:

  • Maarten Klomp (head garden group Weverkeshof)
  • Elly van den Heuvel (events Weverkeshof)

In August 2018, Susanne announced ending her involvement with the project. She moved to Delarna region in Sweden.

In December 2018, Petra announced limiting her involvement with the project to focus more on her family and her work.

In November 2019, Arno announced limiting his involvement with the project to focus more on the work he is doing for the allotment association. Arine has assumed the role of project leader.

Design strategy

We used SADIMet as our design strategy.



The Weverkeshof is a village farm located in Nuenen. Their website is at

Meta data:

  • Timestamp: 2018-08-01
  • Location: Terra, Europe, The Netherlands, Noord-Brabant, Nuenen c.a., Nuenen, Jhr. Hugo van Berckellaan 5, Weverkeshof
  • Latitude / longitude: 51.48076N / 5.55418E
  • Height: 16 m
  • Population of Nuenen: 22885 (2017)
  • Climate: Moderate maritime climate

Soil analysis

The soil is composed of sand (ca. 1 meter deep) then a sharp transition to clay.

Client interview

  • Desired function
    • education and relaxation
    • 'pick to taste' (not to take with you)
    • surplus can be sold in the store
  • Demands / wishes for the path
    • wide enough for wheel chairs and buggies
    • dry
    • no loose materials (will be messed with)
  • Demands / wishes for access
    • access to stream closed off (child security)
    • access to stream border for coppicing crew can be done in one of the meadows for donkeys
  • Suggestions
    • living arch at entrance
    • information sign at entrance
    • list of edible plants and their location
    • experiments with fungi (if executed) no public announcements
    • hugelkultur on both sides of the path

Later we had a discussion on the edibility of plants. Since it is publically accessible and the sign says "food" forest. There is a chance children will put brightly colored berries in their mouth that are actually poisonous. We decided to be safe and stick with berries that are edible. This rules out Solanum tuberosum (potato / aardappel) and Arum maculatum (snakeshead / gevelkte aronskelk).


In this section we list the available plants, animals, structures, tools and events we have observed directly or indirectly at the Weverkeshof.

See PASTE 2018 and PASTE 2019.

9 ways of observing

  • I wonder...
    • where we can get all the plants we want without breaking the budget?
    • if we can turn the whole Weverkeshof into one big food forest?
  • Observe energy
    • design team: Arno, Marjan, Petra and Susanne
    • other volunteer teams at the Weverkeshof
      • on Monday mornings: klusploeg
      • on Monday mornings during growing season: moestuinploeg
      • siertuinploeg
      • every day: hosts
    • sun is mostly blocked by the mature trees on site
    • water flowing towards the stream
    • stream dried up in 2018 from July until November
    • moles pushing up the ground
  • Observe flow
    • water in the stream
    • sunlight
    • people on the paths going to the sheep meadow or returning to the vegetable plot
    • animals passing by: donkeys on the way to their field, critters in the soil
  • Observe communities
    • food forest team (voedselbossers)
    • veg plot team (tuinploeg)
    • fixit team (klusploeg)
    • board at Weverkeshof (bestuur)
    • Nuenen
    • animals in meadows and growth at the edges
    • trees and fungi
    • trees and shrubs
  • Observe patterns
    • visitors are parents with young children who mainly stay near the playground
    • vegetables from the vegetable plot sold every Monday and Thursday
    • garden cuttings go into main holding bin between the vegetable plot and the playground
  • Observe edge
    • border between food forest and the stream
    • fences around most of the outside
    • border of the path
    • Marjan's knowledge of biodynamic gardening and plants
    • Arno's and Petra's knowledge of permaculture
    • shadows cast by American oak in winter
  • Observe limits
    • budget
    • time available for the design team
      • Petra needs to juggle caring for two small children and a job
      • Susanne is planning to move to Sweden, her priorities obviously lie elsewhere
  • Observe from stillness
    • the Weverkeshof is a well run place
    • the food forest location is quiet and rarely visited
  • Observe past & future
    • Weverkeshof was established around 1979 by volunteers and has been running since


Zones and Sectors


zones food forest

The zones in the food forest. Arrows indicate the flow of water on the ground.

We can distinguish a number of different zones, each with their own qualities and characteristics. Each zone needs different plants.

  • along the stream (light purple) - sunny
  • along the east / west edge (light blue) - shadow / contact with donkey
  • along north edge (purple) - half shadow / contact with inhabitant meadow
  • along north / south edge of path (brown) - most contact with human visitors
  • area between path and stream (grey) - sunny to half shade
  • area between path and north edge (blue) - half shade to shady
  • access to food forest (not indicated) - signal function

Arrows indicate lower areas and show the flow of water over the terrain.


  • flow of people over the paths
  • flow of the stream
  • flow of animals in the neighboring paddies
  • flow of solar energy on the terrain
  • flow of wind over the terrain
  • flow of water over the terrain


  • Earth care
    • Reduce
      • use of fossil fuels to affect change
      • use of plastics
    • Reuse
      • transplant shrubs
    • Recycle
      • logs and cuttings from other parts of farm
      • compost from garden team
      • manure from animals
    • Repair
      • build up the natural biodiversity of the forest
      • create habitat for insects, birds, wild life, fungi and bacteria
  • People care
    • provide food
    • provide learning
    • provide a tranquil, soothing environment
    • connect with nature
  • Fair share / Future care
    • share seeds, cuttlings, plants
    • show a different way of growing food

Attitudinal principles

  • Multiple elements x multiple functions
    • hugel bed
      • retains moisture
      • provides habitat for wildlife, insects, fungi, bacteria
      • improves the soil in time
      • decomposition heat extends the growing season
      • height differences provide visual appeal
      • slope and shape offers diverse microclimates
      • wood cuttings stay on site
    • pathway
      • can also be used by fungi
      • provides access to pick fruits, vegetables, leaves, roots and shoots
    • tree trunks
      • sitting space
      • habitat for insects
      • can be used as stepping stones
    • archway
      • visual entrance to food forest
      • support for vine growing on it
      • habitat for insects
    • food production
      • using 6 of the 7 layers: tree, shrub, herb, cover, root and climber
  • Everything gardens
    • hugels decompose and provide food for plants, fungi and bacteria
    • birds can use the cut branches for nesting and foraging
    • fungi can transport nutrients from neighboring paddies
  • The problem is the solution
    • there are already many mature trees, light is limited; we do not have to plant (many) new trees
  • Yield is theoretically unlimited
    • food production
    • raise awareness
    • education
    • living example
  • Work with nature
    • the food forest is missing a number of layers - we can provide them
  • Minimum effort, maximum effect
    • use already available plants from elsewhere on the farm
    • use donated plants
    • use cutting to propagate plants


Details of the design

Considered plants

  • Aegopodium podagraria (ground elder / zevenblad)
  • Akebia quinata (chocolate vine / )
  • Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard / look-zonder-look)
  • Allium cepa (onion / ui)
  • Allium sativum (garlic / knoflook)
  • Allium ursinum (wild garlic / daslook)
  • Angelica sylvestris ( / engelwortel)
  • Arum maculatum (snakeshead / gevelkte aronskelk)
  • Asimina triloba (pawpaw / roomappel)
  • Atriplex hortensis ( / tuinmelde)
  • Brassica oleracea botrytis asparagoides ( / doorlevende broccoli)
  • Brassica oleracea ( / eeuwig moes)
  • Bryophyta (moss / mos)
  • Caragana arborescens ( / siberische erwtenboom)
  • Chenopodium bonus-henricus ( / brave hendrik)
  • Corylus avellana ( / hazelaar)
  • Crocus vernus ( / krokus)
  • Equisetum arvense ( / heermoes)
  • Eruca vesicaria ( / grote rucola)
  • Fragaria vesca (wild strawberry / bosaardbei)
  • Galium aparine ( / kleefkruid)
  • Galium odoratum ( / lievevrouwenbedstro)
  • Geranium phaeum ( / donkere ooievaarsbek)
  • Glechoma hederacea ( / hondsdraf)
  • Hedera helix ( / klimop)
  • Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke / aardpeer)
  • Humulus lupulus (common hop / hop)
  • Juperus communis ( / jeneverbes)
  • Lamium album ( / witte dovenetel)
  • Lamium purpureum ( / paarse dovenetel)
  • Lonicera periclymenum ( / wilde kamperfoelie)
  • Medicago sativa ( / luzerne)
  • Mespilus germanica ( / mispel)
  • Myosotis sylvatica ( / vergeet-me-nietje)
  • Myrrhis odorata ( / roomse kervel)
  • Narcissus (daffodil / narcis)
  • Ornithogalum pyrenaicum (wild asparagus / bosvogelmelk)
  • Pastinaca sativa (parsnip / pastinaak)
  • Plantago lanceolata ( / smalle weegbree)
  • Plantago major ( / grote weegbree)
  • Prunus avium (wild cherry / zoete kers)
  • Prunus insititia (mirabel / mirabel)
  • Prunus spinosa ( / sleedoorn)
  • Pyrus pyraster ( / wilde peer)
  • Ranunculus repens ( / kruipende boterbloem) inedible
  • Rheum rhabarbarum (rhubarb / rabarber)
  • Ribes nidigrolaria ( / jostabes)
  • Ribes nigrum (blackcurrant / zwarte bes)
  • Ribes rubrum (redcurrant / aalbes)
  • Ribes uva-crispa (gooseberry / kruisbes)
  • Rubus fruticosus x R. idaeus (tayberry / braamboos)
  • Rubus fruticosus (blackberry / braam)
  • Rubus idaeus (raspberry / framboos)
  • Rubus phoenicolasius (Japanese wineberry / Japanse wijnbes)
  • Rubus × loganobaccus (loganberry / loganberry)
  • Rumex obtusifolius ( / ridderzuring)
  • Rumex patientia ( / spinaziezuring)
  • Salix alba ( / schietwilg)
  • Salix caprea ( / boswilg)
  • Sambucus nigra (elderberry / gewone vlier)
  • Silene dioica ( / dagkoekoeksbloem)
  • Solanum tuberosum (potato / aardappel)
  • Staphylea pinnata ( / pimpernoot)
  • Symphytum officinale ( / smeerwortel)
  • Tagetes patula ( / afrikaantjes)
  • Tropaeolum majus ( / Oost-Indische kers)
  • Ulmus glabra ( / ruwe iep)
  • Urtica dioica (nettle / grote brandnetel)
  • Vaccinium corymbosum (blueberry / blauwe bes)
  • Vaccinium myrtillus ( / bosbes)
  • Vaccinium oxycoccos ( / cranberry)
  • Vitis vinifera ( / druif)

Plant list

  • leipeer in 2 linker bedden onderzijde plattegrond
  • bogen van wilgentakken bij entree aan beide zijden
  • druif langs bogen leiden
  • aardpeer in bovenste bed (langs wisselweide) en in linkerbed (langs ezelweide)
  • voor de aardpeer kruisbessen
  • 1 of 2 blauwe bes op rechteronderhoek van het terrein (rechtsachter)
  • bosbes voor blauwe bes in rechteronderhoek
  • japanse wijnbes langs hek
  • bessenlaan in heuvels langs het pad (rode, witte, ...)
  • siberische erwtenstruik in niervormige bed rechts naast het pad
  • onderbegroeiing van bosaardbei in heuvels langs het pad


In 2018 the team came together a total of 24 times to observe the location, to work on the design of the food forest or to help manifest the plan.

In November 2018 we had an excursion with a group of volunteers of the Weverkeshof to see a food forest in Eindhoven: voedselbos Wielewaal, designed and maintained by Arjan de Vries.

We rearranged the path on 2018-03-05 in the crescent shape.

We tried adding wood chip to the path on 2018-04-23 using Susanne's wood chipper. The process proved difficult and arduous. Until a better solution presents itself, the path will stay in its current form.

We started construction of the hugels in spring of 2018. The logs were made available through the klusteam.

We gave a presentation on food forests in general and the one planned for the Weverkeshof in particular on 2018-10-10.

Susanne donated a number of currants and berries on 2018-11-05. We had a Plant Day on 2018-11-12. Arine, Petra and Arno shaped the hugels further and planted three pears and a number of currants. There were too many plants to do in the allotted time.

The klusteam provided us with leafs and cut branches to fill out the hugels on 2018-11-19 and 2018-11-26. Arno spent both mornings also planting the rest of the donated shurbs.

On 2019-02-27 we had a gathering to inform people interested in the food forest. Susanne was temporarily in the Netherlands so she attended in a surprise visit. We welcomed about 7 people, all already volunteers at Weverkeshof. We started with a round of introductions. Then Arno showed the maps synthesizing our observations and gave a bit of explanation about the layers of a forest. We then went to visit the location - it was 16°C and sunny.


On Monday 2019-03-25 we sowed and planted a number of things:

  • Solanum tuberosum (potato / aardappel)
  • Fragaria vesca (wild strawberry / bosaardbei)
  • Linum usitatissimum (flax / vlas)
  • Medicago sativa (lucerne / luzerne)
  • Coriandrum sativum (cilantro / koreander)
  • Sinapis alba (white mustard / witte mosterd)

In the neighboring bird forest we sowed a wild flower mix, that contains:

  • Agrostemma githago (common corncockle / bolderik)
    • annual
    • toxic (esp. seeds)
  • Centaurea cyanus (cornflower / korenbloem)
    • annual
    • flower edible
    • leafs can be used as pigment and in herbal tea
  • Calendula officinalis (marigold / goudsbloem)
    • perennial
    • florets are edible
    • uses as medicinal herb, dye
  • Gypsophila elegans (annual baby's-breath / ?)
  • Papaver rhoeas (red poppy / klaproos)
    • seeds are edible and can be used to make oil
    • petals can be used as dye
  • Anethum graveolens (dill / dille)
    • culinary herb
  • Lunaria annua (honesty / judaspenning)
    • annual or biennial
  • Leucanthemum maximum (max chrysanthemum / ?)
    • aster family
  • Hesperis matronalis (dame's rocket / damastbloem)
    • mustard family
  • Amaranthus caudatus (foxtail amaranth / kattenstaartamarant)
    • summer annual
    • leaves and seeds are edible
  • Anthriscus cerefolium (French parsley / echte kervel)
    • carrot family
    • annual herb
  • Adonis aestivalis (summer pheasant's-eye / zomeradonis)
    • toxic (esp. during bloom)
  • Anthemis tinctoria (golden marguerite / gele kamille)
    • biennial
    • used for dyes (yellow, buff and golden-orange)
  • Concolvulus tricolor (dwarf morning-glory / driekleurige winde)
    • annual
  • Ammi majus (bishop's weed / groot akkerscherm)
    • carrot family
    • used for treatment of skin disease (in a tincture of honey)
  • Campanula medium (bell flower / mariëtteklokje)
    • annual or biennial
  • Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist / juffertje-in-het-groen)
    • annual
  • Matthiola bicornis (night-scented stock / avondviolier)
    • mustard family
    • emit pleasant scent in the evening
  • Silene latifolia (white campion / avondkoekoeksbloem)
    • herbaceous annual
  • Linum grandiflorum (flowering flax / vlas)
    • annual
  • Malva moschata (musk mallow / muskuskaasjeskruid)
    • biennial
    • leaves, flowers and seeds are edible
  • Echium plantagineum (purple viper's-bugloss / ?)
    • annual
    • toxic
  • Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William / duizendschoon)
    • herbaceous biennial
  • Silene viscaria (sticky catchfly / rode pekanjer)
    • increases disease resistance of surrounding plants
    • perennial
  • Reseda odorata (garden mignonette / ?)
    • essential oil for use in perfumes
  • Consolida regalis (forking larkspur / wilde ridderspoor)
    • toxic (esp. seeds)
  • Scabiosa atropurpurea (mourningbride / ?)
  • Achillea filipendulina (yarrow / soort duizendblad)
  • Myosotis arvensis (field forget-me-not / akkervergeet-mij-nietje)
  • Viola cania (heath dog-violet / hondsviooltje)
    • herbaceous perennial