Community gardens are experiencing a re-birth in Melbourne, speaking volumes about the pace at which the local food movement is gathering pace and our desire to build our sense of community.
Pop-up Patch at Federation Square is perhaps one of the best hidden secrets in our marvellous city. It’s a joint initiative between Fed Square and the Little Veggie Patch Co with more than 100 do-it-yourself plots enabling residents and restaurants to grow food smack bang in the middle of the city – you can read our story on Pop-Up Patch here.
3000 Acres, meanwhile, is a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to transform Melbourne by making it easy for people to grow food in more places and building our sense of community. With the progress they’ve made in the year since we first spoke to them (click here to read our first 3000 Acres story), they’re doing a sterling job.
There are now six thriving community gardens across Melbourne in Bundoora, Collingwood, Kew, West Melbourne, and two in Brunswick, with four more currently in the planning stages, on land that would otherwise be under utilised.
3000 Acres has a map on its website on which anyone can place a pin identifying underutilised land. Each pin on the map represents a current or possible food growing space, where anyone can connect to map their own site, or watch an existing site and get involved.
On how we can ensure the continued growth of the urban food growing revolution, Ellie Blackwood, 3000 Acres gardens officer at Jewel station in Brunswick says:
“We want to a sustainable food policy for the greater city of Melbourne that prioritises urban agriculture as a seamless part of the cityscape. As more people move to the city, planning for urban agriculture has the potential to provide many direct and indirect benefits to our growing urban population.
First, it makes food as local as possible, reducing cost and environmental impact of food miles. Second, where concrete surfaces prevail, greenery can provide cleaner air and shading to reduce the urban heat island effect. Finally, urban agriculture can promote an important sense of community and influence the shift to a more self-sustainable lifestyle, reconnecting individuals to their natural environment and where their food is coming from.”
Such is the early success of 3000 Acres, a Sydney project of the same intention has been established. Ellie assures us it’s name, 2000 Acres is a play on the postcode – rather than a lower scale of aims!
If the idea of starting a food garden in your neighbourhood seems like a huge undertaking – the barriers to starting a project like this are not as big as you think, says Ellie:
The responsibility seems enormous at first, but once a community is established the gardens become largely self-sustaining entities.
3000 Acres has designed a tool kit to arm you with all the resources you need to start a garden in your community.
“There’s no magic success formula for a community garden”, says Ellie, “They all are successful for their own very different reasons.
Each garden takes on a life of its own as a result of the community that get involved and what those people want to get out if it.
Some are highly productive spaces that subsidize a large portion of the gardeners grocery bill, while others are more about drawing awareness to urban food growing, such as our very public and communal garden at Jewell station which is less productive but great at starting conversations with passers-by”.
If you want to find the nearest 3000 acres project to you, or you know of under-utilised space that could be used as a community garden, head to www.3000acres.org and get pinning!
Photography by Eddie Goldsmith: www.lucifersmonocle.com/