An Oasis in the City

By Robyn Nowell

For just three days, Melbourne’s Southbank has been transformed into River Graze as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival—a sumptuous array of all things food and wine.

Among the delights being plated or poured are an incredible array of seafood at the Southgate Seafood Feast, refreshing cocktails at the St Germain Spritz Bar and everything from Greek to Spanish to Vietnamese fare at the Food Truck Stop. Those with kids can also let them burn off their extra energy at the Sanpellegrino Beach Club while indulging in a sparkling fruit beverage from Italy.

When it’s time to step away from the crowds, a must-visit is Bank of Melbourne’s Edible Garden, an informative, meditative and interactive space that transports you to another destination all together.

From the moment you step into this lush pop-up oasis, the air has a magic freshness I didn't even realise was lacking and the temperature feels slightly cooler than the 33 degrees elsewhere on the riverbank. Suddenly, I’m aware of the subtle aroma of herbs as a rush of tranquility overcomes me.

The LittleVeggie Patch Co., in partnership with Broadsheet and Bank of Melbourne, has created this luscious space planted with over 400 vegetable, herb and sunflower plants. It’s a wonderful place to relax and reflect on the ways beautiful produce can be turned into gourmet feasts and how greenery can be brought into the CBD.

The message is simple: Just because we live in a city, it doesn't mean we need to miss out on all the benefits that growing your own vegetables can bring. 

There is plenty of help on hand to discuss how you might create your own garden oasis at home. Even if your outdoor space is but a tiny balcony, the experienced gardeners will take the time to talk you through the process of starting your own vegetable patch. (Don’t miss the hands-on planting workshops with seeds available to get you started at home.)

If you are already experienced in growing your own veggies, the staff can share their tips to make it even better, as well. Seasonal planting guides and the encyclopedia of city gardening, Grow Food Anywhere: The New Guide to Small-Space Gardening, are available for purchase, covering everything you might need to know about inner-city produce growing.

When I finally vacated my seat to allow others to enjoy this incredible experience, I realised the total immersion in this oasis had completely recharged my batteries. I was ready to brave the crowds on the riverbank again and head to my next tasting experience.

Bank of Melbourne x Broadsheet 'The Edible Garden' is open Saturday and Sunday from 12-6pm at the Southbank River Graze.

This story was produced as a part of "Eat Your Words by Le Cordon Bleu," an immersive workshop on food and wine writing for new writers.