Featured

Community Garden Group meetings – open to all

Monthly meetings are held at the Shed by the local residents who have been involved for some time in working with Countryside and the City Council to get the Garden ready for local use. The views of the residents are fed in to the formal Steering Group, Chaired by Countryside, through our representatives. A Core Group was elected at our first AGM in June 2018, with formal officers and Core members who can vote on decisions.

Our monthly meetings are open to anyone who is interested in getting involved and especially those living on the new developments around the garden. We would love you to come with your ideas and enthusiasm, that is enough! But we also welcome people who are willing to help with running events, fundraising, leading on publicity and managing social media, talking to local groups and other residents who may want to get involved, and lots of other roles that will become active once we have a garden we can work on. No actual gardening skills needed.

Meeting dates are below. If you plan to come, it would be great to know in advance if possible by emailing info@clayfarmgarden.org. If you would like to find out more first, or can’t make meetings but want to get involved, we would also love to hear from you, either at the same email or ring the Chair, Carol Holloway, on 01223 842427.

MEETING DATES FOR 2018:

Saturday meetings are followed by a social hour afterwards for those who want to stay and chat. Weekday evening meetings are business only.

  • Saturday 18th August 10.30 – 12
  • Monday 17th September 7.30 – 9
  • Saturday 20th October 10.30 – 12
  • Thursday 15th November 7.30 – 9
  • Saturday 15th December 10.30 – 12

SOIL! SOIL! SOIL!

Thankfully, Countryside Properties Ltd and Cambridge City Council agreed, from the very beginning of my involvement in the community garden’s planning and development phases, that for the sake of our soil and wildlife, our active volunteers and all our visitors, we should avoid using chemicals on the garden at all costs. For people who know very little about gardening, or the latest advice about horticulture and health, the techniques we use on site will be unfamiliar. The way we garden is certainly very different from the methods used by the gardeners who tend the plants in the public areas of the new developments. The logic behind our decision is set out in a planning and design statement prepared in November 2017 thus:

Soil preparation:

 5.7 The community garden is on former arable farmland, routinely treated with chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers for decades. The clay soil is in a poor condition, with little life in evidence. In order to create reasonable growing conditions, the soil will need to be enriched and improved.

5.8 After consulting the local community, the need to adopt a regenerative approach is clear.

5.9 A no/low dig system will save time, effort and materials. It is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way for the community to bring small parcels of land into use, whilst ensuring the remaining land remains relatively weed free and attractive. It will be the best solution for improving the impoverished soil and a sustainable way of making the site ready for the newly formed Clay Farm Community Garden Group.

5.10 Using a no dig system will increase yields whilst decreasing the need for further external inputs. Regenerative gardening encourages long-term, systemic, mycorrhizal and bacterial activity in the soil. This can be achieved by first covering and then mulching the land. It also obviates the need to remove any topsoil from the site.

5.12 Considering the uncertain timeline, this is a flexible, cost-effective, safe, environmentally responsible and sustainable approach.

Our garden design consultant Catriona Caldwell put it succinctly in her review of that document:

SOIL! SOIL! SOIL!

If you have any questions about the methods I use, please do get in touch.

 

The SHED

The Public Home closed its doors for the last time in September 2016. In its time as a temporary community space, it had become a tiny library, a museum, a restaurant, a classroom, a film set, a pub, a conference centre, a café, and home to the Residents in Residence: a number of artists who stayed and worked in Trumpington throughout the lifetime of the project.

Towards the end, the house also acted as a meeting place for the developers, the local authority and other local interested parties, such as Trumpington  Allotment Society and Trumpington Community Orchard. During these discussions it was agreed that, for community garden to thrive, the volunteers who would manage the space and work the land would need a shed, with space to hold meetings, garden gatherings and for storage of equipment.

I worked with the strategic planners and landscape architects, to design a space that would accommodate gardening activities and act as a hub for the emerging community garden group. But delays and personnel changes meant that the project to improve the temporary container building, with a bespoke greenhouse extension, was shelved. The temporary building, which should have arrived in October of 2016, was finally delivered to site in April 2017.

It has taken us a further eighteen months to prepare the site for the arrival of our new polytunnel. This will allow us to grow veg crops throughout the autumn and winter months, and plant seeds for planting out next spring.

If you want to get involved, get in touch!

The Showground site where the Abode development now stands

Origins

In a sense, the consultation we “launched” last month, has been taking place for some time. The community garden appears in planning documents dating back to 2010. Certainly, I first started having conversations about the community garden, soon after artists Jeanne van Heeswijk and Britt Jurgensen invited me to work with them, as part of the Habitorials: A Showground of Real Living Public Art Project, in 2014. Some of you may remember the events at the show home on Addenbrookes Road. People ask me:  whatever happened to the neighbourhood pub? And, could we start one up again? Local people often talked into the night there, about their aspirations for the site along the street that had been earmarked for community growing of some kind.

Dave Jackson’s blog post a few weeks ago, described a big party we held on the land, back in 2015. It was after that event that Countryside Properties approached me with the idea of continuing some of the conversations and activities that I’d started in the garden at the show home. We decided that the best way to make that happen would be to provide a temporary building, where the people of Trumpington could gather, to imagine and plan the community garden.  And so, the seed of an idea that would become The Public SHED was sown.

An awful lot has happened since then and, at times, it’s felt like we may never get started. But the community garden is really beginning to take shape. I hope you will enjoy keeping up with the story of the garden here.

Meeting 15th November – agenda

  Clay Farm Community Garden Group

Meeting on Thursday 15th November 7.30-9 pm

at the Public Shed

AGENDA

  1. Welcome, apologies and introductions
  2. Notes of last meeting and matters arising
  3. Custom and practice record 5 mins
  4. Consultation
  • Southern Fringe meeting Oct 23rd
  • Clay Farm Centre opening Oct 27th
  • Neighbours party Nov 29th
  • Pre-Christmas party Dec 11th
  • Christmas Fair Trumpington Meadows School Dec 14th
  • Risk assessments and recording for events
  • Data and structure for final report
  1. Site works – path, soil prep, polytunnel, slabs, C. Uni project
  2. Community Chest grant
  3. Partnerships with Headway and Botanic Garden
  4. “Review of the Year” report
  5.  A.O.B

Date of next meeting Saturday 15th December 10.30-12

CLOSE 9.00

Three years ago.

Three years ago some of us were on this site for a shared meal and a vision of what this community might become. Seating and tables were all made from pallets which came from the building site around us and even though it was into October the weather cooperated as it has done with the food vans on the whole this year!

Do comment if you were there and know others who were there who might wish to again be part of this work in community building.

Photo by Diana Johnstone

News about Clay Farm allotment site

Update: a new statement from Cambridge City Council about the handover of the new allotments:

https://allotments.net/2018/09/17/allotment-handover/

This link below contains the latest news about the availability of the new Clay Farm allotments, which is just over the bridge from our garden.

https://allotments.net/2018/07/04/new-allotments-in-the-southern-fringe/