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.

Fran Welch

Fran is a self-professed apple connoisseur and has been embarking on a quest to try and promote as many apple varieties as she can possibly find! (check it out on @eudaimonia_garden)

An Alumna of Schumacher College, Fran completed the 6 month Residency in Sustainable Horticulture and was delighted to be able to work with over 70 varieties of apple here.

She deals with all of our admin at The Mother Tree, whilst also working at Schumacher College and Agroforestry Research Trust.

Caitlin Hudson

Caitlin is drawn to this area from her passion in working with perennial plants in forest gardening/ food forest systems, and high nutritional value crops.
She, alongside Richard, works out on the land, tending to the ins and outs of the nursery site throughout the season.

She has been with The Mother Tree for coming up to 2 years now, following on from her 6 month Residency in Sustainable Horticulture at Schumacher in 2021. She also works for ART, and is a member of grow_share_
a local community run market garden project.

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