Growing Together

As the first lockdown started, local nurseries were inundated with compost and seed orders as gardens were transformed into vegetable plots and allotments were tended with more loving care than ever before.

“It is within that space, that breath, when growing or foraging, preparing, eating, drinking or simply sitting with plants, that we are able to heal on a deeper level.”

Cambridge Herbalist, Vanessa Neville


Whether motivated by concerns about access to food or a need to be in the garden and productive, growing spaces were cultivated and nurtured whilst many people were furloughed or working from home and we have more spent time connected to the earth. Learning traditional skills, growing together, and sharing the harvest: from ‘help yourself’ boxes on doorsteps and ‘Plant Swap Sunday’ events, to donating gluts of fruit and vegetables to the local food hubs – gardens, allotments and communities have thrived.


Community Growing

CoFarm – Cambridge’s first community farm – is currently being developed off Barnwell Road, on the Green Belt next to Coldham’s Common. It is producing organic vegetables for the benefit of the local community. Guilaine and Phil, the first residents to move into Ironworks, have been volunteering at CoFarm: “It’s made me so happy,” said Guilaine, “the farm is a mere 10 minutes bike ride from Ironworks. It only started this year in May, but it already has a large number of loyal volunteers and everybody we’ve met there is hugely enthusiastic, positive and community-minded.”

Guilaine Veneziani in conversation with Hilary Cox Condron. FORGE 2020.


Guilaine and Phil, Ironworks residents and CoFarm volunteers. Photo courtesy of Guilaine Veneziani 

“I see so much overlap with the values and creative endeavour of the Ironworks public art program,” said Guilaine. “I am convinced there is potential for some partnering. The multiple crises we are living through right now remind us that we need to build more resilient communities to face an uncertain future. Builders and farmers must come together to create a stronger and more purposeful framework for society to thrive in. The best neighbourhoods of the future will not just have hipster coffee shops and art galleries, they’ll have their own organic farms on site. It’s good for the physical and psychological health of residents.”

With thanks to Guilaine and Phil, Ironworks is pleased to donate spare building materials from the site during building work – and look forward to discussions and ideas to continue support and partnership.


FORGE 2020 at The Museum of Cambridge


FORGE Pop-Up Exhibition at The Museum of Cambridge 17th December – 8th February

As you move through the kitchen and up stairs you will discover how so many lockdown experiences – of baking, growing, foraging, making and spending time in nature – have reconnected us to traditional skills and crafts and ways of living. You will see QR codes around the museum which link you to some of the Cambridge groups and initiatives exploring and developing these themes – from community farming and measuring your carbon footprint to exploring Cambridge’s Urban Forest and Cambridge Doughnut Economics.


‘We bring people together to grow and share delicious food, build stronger communities and healthier ecosystems.’

CoFarm Cambridge, August 2020. Photo:

CoFarm donated all of its produce in 2020 to seven emergency food hubs which have been established across Cambridge to support people experiencing food insecurity, as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. Find out  how you can get involved HERE


Find out about local community growing spaces, crop sharing and how to get the most out of your urban garden HERE


FORGE is an evolving project, sharing stories, ideas and actions together. We would love to hear from you!

 Please email Ironworks artist in residence Hilary Cox Condron at

Join the conversation on our Facebook page HERE

Hilary Cox Condron on Twitter @mshilarycox

Social distancing has meant we have had to find lots of different ways to connect. The FORGE Community Gallery is another digital opportunity to share our creativity and ideas – and spread a little joy – too. If you would like to add to it, it’s really quite straight forward, there are instructions on the page – posts can be anonymous if you’d like them to be – and all posts will be monitored before it is made public. We would love you to join us there!

#ForgeCambridge #shapebondtransform

If you would like updates about the IRONWORKS public art programme and future community events, you can sign up to the Resonance-Cambridge mailing list  HERE