Growing Spaces Project

About the Growing Spaces Project

The Growing Spaces Project aims to increase the number of food producing public and community spaces in Cambridge. Growing Spaces can be public spaces, unused bits of land in your community, college owned spaces, school gardens, rooftops, window boxes, containers, raised beds or any other option we can think of! Imagine, if we added up all those little unused areas, how much local food could we produce, and how much would it improve the quality of our city?

The project has been active since Spring 2011, and was run by Stephanie Ferguson until Autumn 2013. It is now being revived and we are still very much looking for volunteers who can help us maintain our public spaces in the long-term and create new ones. Contact Toni if you'd like to help!

During the time that the project has been running we have been able to transform 18 spaces in Cambridge with edible landscaping and community gardens! We hope that community gardens and edible landscaping we've created can be examples for people in their own communities throughout Cambridge and beyond.

We have hundreds of photos from this project and details on the process of transformation for all of the spaces we reclaimed at our website here: http://www.cambridge.growingspaces.org, so please visit for more information! You can also join the Facebook group for more rapid updates and exchange, and join the mailing list by asking Toni.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who takes care of these spaces?

  • Like most public spaces with plants, public spaces are designed to be low-maintenance. A volunteer from Transition or from the neighbourhood might check in on the plants while they are getting established, or see to pruning once-a-year. Community spaces can only be established if there is support in the community to care for them in the long-term.

I'm thinking of volunteering with Growing Spaces - how much time would I have to invest?

  • That depends entirely on how much time you want to commit! Maybe you're busy but you'd like a space in your neighbourhood to look nicer, so you might spend an hour a month giving it some care. Or maybe you have ambitious edible landscaping ideas and can commit to following them through, so you might take on a new space, be involved in its design, and grow bean tipis and direct strawberry rings or plan forest garden progression plantings.

What's the difference between a public space and a community space?

  • A community space is accessed by a number of members of one community, such a block of flats, a community centre, or a neighbourhood garden. Some of our current community spaces include a garden at St. Regis, a block of Clare College flats and Woodlands Care Centre which includes a raised herb bed for low-mobility and wheelchair access. A public space potentially could be accessed by anyone in Cambridge, such as fruit bushes on the Midsummer Common.

Are you concerned with vandalism?

  • If people take ripe fruit or cut herbs from these plants, then that's ok; in fact that is what they are there for! Most people who forage or get their food locally care enough not to take too much. Otherwise we don't expect vandalism to be any more likely than for any other public plants, which are ubiquitous in Cambridge and seem to hold up just fine. Converting underused spaces into Growing Spaces may even decrease the likelihood of vandalism, as unused or neglected spaces tend to accumulate rubbish and encourage anti-social behaviour.

Sponsors and Funding

A big thank you to Scotsdales, Ridgeons, and Cambridge WoodWorks for their in-kind donations!

Thanks also to P&G's Future Friendly Contest. In the 5th annual awards (2011) we were the area finalist for the Anglia region and won 1000 for use towards the project. Thanks so much to all those who voted for our project!

And finally, a huge thank you to Sustainable City Grants for their support of this project! We were one of the recipients for the 2012-2013 funding year with a grant of 3000.


Media

4 green projects in it to win it 19th August, 2011, Cambridge News.

Growing Spaces on BBC Radio Cambridgshire Morning Show 18th January, 2012 (no link available).

New sculpture to be unveiled in Cambridge, 19th January, 2012, Cambridge News

Cambridge News piece on our edible herb and flower garden at Browns Field Community Centre 18th April, 2012