Growing Places

Growing Places: Contemporary Narratives for Farming and Managing Woodland in Protected Landscapes

Growing Places aims to support a number of farmers and landowners (Stroud Community Agriculture, Oakbrook Community Farm, Hawkwood Centre for Future Thinking and Stroud Woodland Co-operative) by engaging local people in their work through art walks, workshops and other creative activity days.  We also plan to make contact with other farmers and landowners local to Stroud.

By introducing people to the good practice of this group of landowners, the project will illustrate and promote examples of farming which positively addresses climate change, environmental degradation, healthy diet and working with nature. At the same time it will provide creative and healthy outdoor activities and research the role of art in helping bring about positive change for nature and land managers while delivering wider public well being benefits.

Within the Growing Places project there are a number of interwoven elements:

· Community Family Tree – the identification of a Growing Places Walk and associated tree & hedgerow planting and aftercare along with the distribution of woodblock prints to commemorate peoples’ involvement and act as a link to an online map for future generations to visit. Removing larch and laurel from semi natural woodland, restocking for biodiversity, climate change amelioration and encouraging natural regeneration.

· The Growing Places Loom Wall – a series of artist-led walks through the Hawkwood Estate, to research and record the special cultural and natural histories of Hawkwood, also addressing current debates around farming, habitat and climate impact. An artist and a craftsperson in residence will collate the results to inform the creation of a stone wall incorporating art works which will screen Stroud Community Agriculture’s chiller unit.

· The Composting Project – involving partners in the design and building of a composting facility, through dissemination of current best practice connecting regenerative agriculture, landscape, soil and food. Design will be informed by a Compost Summit involving experts in the field, farmers and Oakbrook’s Zero Dig project. This event will be open to a range of participants as well as leading to a finalised design process. [1] There will also be 8 creative Workshops facilitated by a Composting Artist.

· The Gingerbread House – the design and build of a small marquee designed & decorated to look like a gingerbread house, to be used as an artist resource for making and running a minimum of 18 workshops, to be provided by artists in

residence and local artists. Each resident artist will be given a new set of internal blank canvas walls, which they will be invited to work on, creating a set of house interiors to be exhibited during the Growing Places Festival. The Gingerbread House will be sited in various places during the project. Around the Gingerbread House there will be several simple canvas shelters to be used for workshops. The House and its resident and visiting artists will immerse young and old visitors alike in the wonder of weaving a story and the astounding intricacy of the world around us.

· The Growing Places Directory & Narrative – a means for community groups and individuals to access and support the resources offered by the Growing Places Partnership into the future, and a record of the project to provide a blueprint for others wishing to do something similar elsewhere. This will take the form of inspiring stories, including imagery and personal histories/interviews about Growing Places. People will be able to contact the partners for further details, and partners could contact potential user groups.

· The Growing Places Festival and Conference – a celebratory learning event comprising: walks, talks, exhibition and conference for wider dissemination of our findings.

· Wood felling, extraction, milling and usage – felling of mature larch from inter war plantation on previously semi ancient woodland in Folly Wood, extraction, local milling, for use in the various projects e.g. in the construction and furnishing of the Gingerbread House and compost facility.

· Artist residencies – 10 weeks of residencies for artists/craftspeople with varying practices and accompanying workshops for a wide range of community groups and local residents. Resident artists will be provided work space in the Gingerbread House, and will learn about and respond to the activities of the partners, deliver weekly public engagement workshops and create work to be exhibited at the Growing Places Festival. We will arrange visits from experts to inform, inspire and work with the artists and workshop participants. Two of the residencies will be working specifically with the Composting Project and the Loom Wall.