Meet the Team Behind the Hustle Holt - Nottingham City’s First Miyawaki Mini Forest

Words: Jake Austen-Jones
Photos: Rob Leedell
Wednesday 08 December 2021
reading time: min, words

The project will create new homes for native spaces of insects, birds and animals to thrive in...


On the weekend that marked the beginning of the much-anticipated COP26 in Glasgow, a more local initiative commenced in Woodthorpe Grange Park, as Green Hustle planted Nottingham’s first Miyawaki-style mini forest. In collaboration with Nottingham City Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Team, the Sherwood People’s Forest Project and Nottingham Open Spaces Forest planted out the Hustle Holt, one of a new breed of forests taking root in the UK. This community-led action is part of a wider movement aimed at restoring biodiversity and fighting the climate crisis. 

Paid for by the donations made by festival-goers at the 2019 Hockley Hustle, volunteers planted 1,000 saplings over the course of the weekend, made up from sixteen species of native trees. Whilst the forest became the first of its kind in the Nottingham city area, the county’s first was planted back in April at FarmEco community farm in Screveton by Rachel Richards of Plant NG.wild, who was also at the centre of the action at the Hustle Holt. And she’s since been busy establishing other Miyawaki forests around Nottinghamshire.

Rachel explained that the mini forest mimics a rainforest in its dense arrangement of trees and multi-layered structure. This results in an area that absorbs more carbon, with trees that grow up to ten times faster than normal, creating a resilient and thriving ecosystem with species that complement and help each other to grow. Such attention to detail is clearly a large part of what makes events like this a success; a lack of thoughtful detail may explain why the aforementioned COP26 in Glasgow underwhelmed some - our own Prime Minister was adamant that the conference had actually taken place in Edinburgh. 


The heart of the project, however, was the community of hustlers and local volunteers, in their wellies and raincoats, who helped nurture and grow this seed of an idea into a living, thriving reality. The day was filled with digging, planting, and a lot of mulching, supplied by a long, snaking line of at least 20 people juggling large buckets of the wood chip which the council has provided.

First time volunteer Simon had come with his son Jakob – who was in the thick of the action – hoping to teach him the importance of helping locally, in order to build a more sustainable future. He explained, “I wanted to get involved with this for the next generation, for my son, so he can see from an early age that you have to give back, you have to put work in to get things out of the community and nature.” 

They were joined by members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Ladies Association, who were contributing as part of their centenary celebrations next year. Local teacher Tom, a self-declared ‘armchair environmentalist’ who grew up in the area, stressed the importance of focusing on what’s local, and connecting with others in the community. 

Tom said that “while we are constantly reminded of the effects of climate change on a national and global scale, it is just as important to stay in touch with your local area, and there is no better way to do this than plugging yourself into nature, understanding regional and seasonal changes, and working with what is around you”.


This felt like the driving force behind the project - a sense that by connecting to something bigger than ourselves, we connect more to our community, and the world around us. Adam Pickering, Hockley Hustle founder and one of the Co-Directors of Green Hustle, said: “It’s fantastic to see the whole community come together. I think that’s just as important as the ecological side of the project. It gives people a focus and hope, introduces us to new people and ideas, and connects us to the local area in a really positive way.”

Rachel feels “it’s not just about building something nice for us - we’ve been doing that for a long time, and it clearly isn’t working”. In the same vein, although the forest will provide a beautiful space for the public to enjoy, it will also create new homes for native spaces of insects, birds and animals to thrive in. And that’s what’s truly important.

Find out more about Green Hustle and get involved with future projects via their website

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