About Us

Our Story

Established by Ella Sparks and Jane Gleeson in 2017, The Mother Tree is part of Schumacher College’s innovative work on sustainable food systems, agroforestry, regenerative farming and horticulture. We are run as a partnership between the college and Richard Lewis. Unlike many large scale commercial tree nurseries, our trees are not treated with chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides, we never use peat and we actively work to reduce our environmental impact.

We believe everyone should be able to have the opportunity to nurture a tree and enjoy home-grown fruit. We offer apple trees on a range of rootstocks, suitable for any space, from a container outside your front door to a large garden aspiring to be a future orchard.

We directly support the education of students through work in the nursery, and 50% of the profits raised from tree sales are invested back into sustainable horticulture at Schumacher College. This helps us teach a new generation of growers, farmers and gardeners, essential for an ecologically sustainable future.

Richard Lewis

Richard is a botanist and gardener with a life-long passion for food growing and biodiversity conservation. With an interest in researching historic fruit varieties, he is keen to expand our range of heritage fruit from Devon and Cornwall.

Richard is also a basketmaker and textile craftsperson, and helps run the small dye-plant garden at Schumacher College.

Janette Hornby

Janette has had a life-long passion for growing healthy food – and eating it!

An Alumna of Schumacher College, Jan completed the 6 month Residency in Sustainable Horticulture followed by a 1 year Internship in Ecological and Sustainable Horticulture in 2019. It was during this time that her interest in fruit growing was inspired by the passion and expertise of Ella Sparks and Tattwa Gyani

“I am delighted to be volunteering at the Mother Tree Nursery, taking the project forward into its next stage of development whilst expanding my own experience and expertise in this area”.

Chess Bygrave

Hi! I’m Chess, the horticultural intern at Schumacher gardens. I love the outdoors, and working on and learning about new ways we can work with nature to nourish both ourselves and the land. Particularly exciting for me about the Mother Tree is the apple tree nursery as I’m forever blown away by the many different apple varieties that we are able to grow.

Schumacher College

Schumacher College is an international centre for nature-based education, personal transformation and collective action. The college was founded in 1991 by Satish Kumar and is based on the beautiful Dartington Estate.  The college runs short courses, horticulture and postgraduate programs with the leading thinkers, practitioners and activists of our time.

Food is at the heart of Schumacher College as it nourishes our learning community on many levels. Much of the food is grown in the College’s 5 acre agroforestry field – in a system of alley cropping and in the developing forest garden. The field also has fruit trees and bushes; young nut trees; a flock of pasture fed poultry; two wildlife ponds, a craft and pollinator garden and a hazel and willow coppice. Other areas include two herb gardens; four polytunnels; a perennial no dig vegetable garden and several fruit areas. The College gardens use regenerative and ecologically sensitive, low input methods to grow much of the food we eat here. Our horticultural students join a rich six month immersive programme learning how to grow food in a way that maintains and restores soil and ecosystem health. To find out more about the horticulture program visit: https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/horticulture-programmes