Artist Neville Gabie has been exploring Cambridge with an eye to subtly changing some familiar paths, secret short cuts and small patches of land. Commissioned by the Council to look, with an artist’s response, at routes and connectivity for the South Cambridge area, Neville has been working on how to enhance way-finding between the new housing developments in the area, and the new biomedical campus at Addenbrookes. He wants to bring these communities closer to the existing landscape, and in so doing promote walking and cycling routes between them and the existing, much loved, green spaces of Nine Wells Nature Reserve, Byron’s Pool and Grantchester Meadows.
Neville’s vision is for these routes to be mapped out in living trees – apple trees, in fact. He will use their names, attributes and historical associations to create signposts along some well-known, and some less obvious, routes between the new communities and Cambridge. You can imagine how pleased I was to be asked to be a member of the team working to allow Neville to fulfil his vision. I have had to keep it a secret all winter until we got the official go-ahead. And that was hard for me to do!
Trumpington Community Orchard will, in itself, be one of the hubs in this apple network, and we will be providing help and information on the whole experience of orchard-start ups. So, the apple tree collection is underway. As I type, 200 newly grafted apple trees are growing away at the National Fruit Collection in Brogdale, Kent. There is an amazing number still to be grown over the next few years. You see, this Cambridge Collection is ambitious. This will be a planted network of every UK apple variety, ancient and modern, that we can get hold of – and that’s about 2,500 at the last count. Truly, a twenty first century fruit forest.
Neville will launch his project at the Southern Fringe Forum on 4th June, and everyone is welcome to attend. Look out for further details in future posts.

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