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New Garden Suburbs

Date uploaded: March 23, 2016

Artists in Wiltshire have created a 70 acre suburban farm, as Chancellor George Osborne announces more “new garden suburbs” in the 2016 Budget.

As George Osborne announced in the Budget on Monday 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 actually 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 municipal green verges back into fruitful places for the suburban forager the “h-edges “ (www.h-edges.org.uk) project by artists Ruralrecreation has marked out a miniature linear farm with a free, low maintenance food supply of edible food and fruits. Inspired by the British tradition of making “model villages” and “model farms”, miniature farm signs show food which can be grown and foraged within 300 yards of the sign in an area of thousands of new homes being built on greenfield sites at Hilperton, east of Trowbridge, Wilts. Areas of new free food planting are marked with miniature farm furniture of gates and stiles.

The photos of plants and fruits on the signs were crowd sourced from local people and the Women’s Institute who also participated in workshops making Wiltshire recipes for food and drink, including hedgerow cocktails, with up and coming chefs from the award-winning Ethicurian wild food restaurant (www.theethicurean.com) near Bristol. The signs are also memorials to the old 19th century green fields which the houses were built on, a Wiltshire poetry of fields called “Help’s Well”, “Great Upper Freeze” or “Gibb’s Leaze”.

Over the past year Alex Murdin from ruralrecreation, working with Somerset Forge, has also installed miniature farm gates and stiles to mark places in where traditional hedgerow fruits, such as plum and medlar, have been planted by the project for current and future residents. He calls the installation “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 radical future when agriculture will again replace the houses as the need to feed a growing population changes priorities for land use again. Alex Murdin 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 artist Alex Murdin at 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.

Alex Murdin is available for interviews on request tel: 07885409750 e [email protected]

More information see here www.h-edges.org.uk

Photo credit: John Le Brocq

Photo credit: John Le Brocq