ruralrecreation creates 70 acre suburban farm
As George Osborne announced in the March Budget the further relaxation of planning laws to create “new garden suburbs” on green fields, one art project in Wiltshire has created a future model farm which is integrated into these new suburbs to make them more sustainable by planting fruit and food along the edges of public parks, verges and hedges.
Converting sterile green verges back into fruitful places for the suburban forager the h-edges project has marked out a miniature linear farm with a free, low maintenance food supply of edible fruits. Inspired by the British tradition of making “model villages” and “model farms”, miniature farm signs show food which can be gathered and within 300 yards of the sign in an area of new housing at Hilperton, east of Trowbridge, Wilts. The images on the signs, which are of foraged foods, were crowd sourced from local people who also participated in workshops making Wiltshire recipes for food and drink, including hedgerow cocktails, with up and coming chefs from the Ethicurian wild food restaurant. The signs also name the old 19th century field which the houses were built on, a Wiltshire poetry of fields called “Help’s Well”, “Great Upper Freeze”or “Gibb’s Leaze”.
Artist Alex Murdin from ruralrecreation, working with local residents, Somerset Forge and Ginkgo Projects, has also installed miniature farm gates and stiles to mark places in where traditional fruits, such as plum and medlar, have been planted by the project for current and future residents. He calls the work “One day all this will be fields…” in the hope that there is a future hybrid of countryside and houses that might be sustainable, or perhaps pointing to a more radical future time when agriculture will replace the houses, as the need to feed a growing population changes priorities for land use again. Alex says of the project:
“We’ve made the rural and the urban over thousands of years. In the 20thcentury we saw the rise of the sub-urban. Perhaps now we need to create the sub-rural.”
The project has been a collaboration between artists ruralrecreation, landscape designers Ginkgo Projects, Somerset Forge and the Mendip Garden Company with participation from local residents, Hilperton Parish Council, the Paxcroft Mead Residents Association, the Women’s Institute, Curo Housing and The Mead Primary School. It was commissioned by Commissions Projects for Wiltshire Council and funded by section 106 contributions from developers Taylor Wimpey and Abbey Homes.