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.
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.