I love the idea of a community garden. We have one in Noosa which is fantastic as so many people live in apartments here. We also had one in Gloucester, The Tucker Patch, which initially I found strange as everyone had a large garden of their own, and yet they came together to grow vegetables which were then sold at the Farmer’s Market. Despite have over 5 acres garden of my own, I assisted at the Tucker Patch and learnt the real value of gardening with others.
Coming across the Pop Up Patch in a car park in Melbourne’s Federation Square was unexpected. Apparently, I was told, there was a problem with the structure being used for car parking and so Federation Square and The Little Veggie Patch Company joined forces to create a green space on the unusable section. The view as you approach gives no hint to what lies inside. Here any member of the community can rent a square garden and plant whatever they choose. Naturally there are more vegetables than flowers but there was an abundance of petals to delight also.
There was a little shop selling coffee so you could sit amongst the greenery, breathing in the herbs as they released their aroma as people brushed by their foliage. A shop was also onsite selling seeds from the garden, gardening equipment and books and the gardeners could put their excess produce for sale. Advice was given out for free. I imagine on a weekend the place would be alive with gardeners, tourists, conversation and laughter.
The space also aided in keeping Federation Square a carbon neutral. Another rooftop use that was not open to the public, which also went towards creating a carbon neutral environment was the rooftop bees, part of the urban honey movement. On top of another building are 10 hives which supply Federation Square restaurants and cafés with all their honey needs. The hives yield, I’m told, around 350 kilograms of honey each year.
If in Melbourne, Federation Square is worth a visit (do the free guided tour) and take in more than the architecture and artwork. What a wonderful public space for the city to have.