A community that grows together grows, together. In individual plots and communal spaces dotted all over Melbourne, you can find communities bonding over food, gardening and sharing some agricultural know-how over a cup of tea and a working bee.
For those living in the inner city, outdoor space is a luxury. It’s often accompanied by a price tag that makes it out of reach. Community garden projects are bringing local green-thumbs together in the name of food security, sustainability and friendship where space is in short supply. Find a garden near you with this handy directory from the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network.
Here’s a guide to some of our favourites that welcome visitors. You can stop by for some inspiration, get you hands dirty and help out with a working bee (and if you’re lucky a BBQ) or sign up for a plot of your own.
This meandering, art filled garden will celebrate 20 years of soil, seedlings and friendships in 2018. It’s situated on what was once a bowling green in St Kilda with the rush of Luna Park’s Scenic Railway in the background. It’s now home to 140 plots where members cultivate fruit, veggies, herbs and an eclectic collection of art. It’s also home to some happy chooks, quails, budgies and a few rabbits. The garden welcomes visitors who want to learn, help or just have a look. A regular farmer’s market raises funds to keep the garden going and supports local farmers and artisans.
Tucked away at the centre of the Parkville campus is a productive little oasis tended by students, alumni and local gardeners. They focus on sustainably, often organically, grown produce and welcome anyone who’s curious to come along to a weekly workshop or working bee. You don’t need to be a student to get involved – the garden is open to the public. If you’re on the campus during semester, visit the University of Melbourne Farmer’s Market.
A well-established garden in the Thomas Kidney Reserve in Fitzroy North is home to a vibrant community of growers and green-thumbs. It celebrated 10 years in 2014 and is continuing to grow. It’s divided up into individual allotments and communal plots for those on the waiting list for their own patch. You can get involved in one of the regular working bees – which we hear are followed by a delicious BBQ – and learn a thing or two about growing your own fruit and veg. An annual open day welcomes visitors to explore the garden and join in a workshop with some local experts.
This grass roots initiative is about people, communities, gardening, farming, the environment and food. They build and support communal gardens for residents of public housing and those living in poverty. It’s a way of giving neighbours a place to meet and share food and experience even if language is a barrier, and give communities access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food. They also support school garden projects, food-waste reduction program Food Know How, and community garden projects for non-public housing neighbourhoods. Cultivating Community gardens are dotted all over Melbourne. You can find out more via their website.