Art Gene and Oakmere unite to re-wild


Above:  Events with kicked off in August with a Hugel Mound workshop, photo Maddi Nicholson

Art Gene and Oakmere unite to re-wild


We’re excited to announce a new project with locally established house builder Oakmere, that will encourage native wildlife and flora back to areas around Barrow, through environmental initiatives that will create thriving living environments for the community.

An initial 12-month project has commenced between Oakmere and Barrow-based Art Gene, to produce a series of practical expert-led workshops which will engage the local community in ecological and sustainable food growing. In supporting Art Gene’s wider quest with Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council for climate change action, Oakmere has committed to the environmental projects in Barrow, to share knowledge and ideas that will create environmentally friendly open spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Workshops will be based at Allotment Soup, the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space, Art Gene’s long-term project now in its fifth year, to develop an acre of scrubland on Walney Island into a community resource for food, futures and biodiversity. Led by Ecological Designer Dr Vincent Walsh, who is working with Art Gene on the future development of the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space. The project has received generous support to date, with particular thanks to Sir John Fisher Foundation whose support has enabled Vincent’s role here in Barrow.

Oakmere, which this month launched exclusive new homes development, Abbey Heights, in Barrow-In-Furness, has an adjacent 18-acre meadow dedicated to improving biological diversity, creating an environmental legacy in the community. Planning stage for the land is underway to design and create a self-maintaining habitat for local flora and fauna that will attract and revive species of wildlife in the area.


Commenting on why Oakmere has partnered with Art Gene, Director Mark Wilkinson said:

“Most of our new homes developments are in Cumbria and the Lakes, the region is of great importance to us from a cultural and environmental perspective. It is our job to create aspirational homes for the community and in doing so, we’re passionate about respecting and nurturing the beauty of our landscape.

“We are delighted to support Art Gene with its conscientious local mission to make the most of our public spaces for the good of the environment and our people. By joining together our respective areas of expertise and experience we are positive about the impact we can make.”


Above: practical work at Allotment Soup with Vincent Walsh, photo Daryl Pugh


The workshops will include activities and learning on subjects including: ‘Composting – creating feedback loops’ and ‘Forest Gardening- mimicking nature’ to help harness the power of natural processes to feed native flora and fauna as well as produce fruit and vegetables. Further workshops will focus on the site’s biodiversity such as ‘Edges – diversity popping’ and ‘Pathways – building ecological networks’.

Workshops begin this September until April 2021. All events are free and open to all. Find all workshop dates HERE.


Art Gene Co-founder/Director Maddi Nicholson said:

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Oakmere to further promote and preserve our amazing natural environment as well as continue working with the community of Barrow and Walney.”


Ecological Designer to the Allotment Soup project Vincent Walsh added:

“In a time of climate change and biodiversity loss, it is important that communities transform unused green space in the pursuit of creating sustainable and ecologically rich environments for both natural and human wellbeing. The partnership between Oakmere and Art Gene is just one demonstration of the exciting possibilities when two diverse organisations come together.”  


Works have begun on site at Abbey Heights opposite the grounds of Furness Abbey, to bring forward three, four and five-bedroom executive homes made of natural red stone and Burlington slate roofs. The development offers larger than average areas of space around each home.








Above: Hugel Mound workshop, photo Anna Litchfield



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