Published in Eumundi Green Issue 183

Urban Pop Up Patch

Last week in Melbourne, I stumbled upon a gorgeous community garden, smack bang in the middle of the city. Now when I say smack bang, I really mean smack bang, right in the centre – on the rooftop of the Federation Square car park.

Although the gardens weren’t open to the public at the time I was there I was lucky enough to be having a sticky beak through the fence when a lovely couple came along to water their patch and invited me in.

Not only did I delight in the plethora of photographic subjects but enjoyed learning how the city folk bring the outdoors, gardening and fresh produce into their lives.

All of the raised garden beds had quaint stencilled signs on them, indicating their owners, and I was thrilled to recognise the name of the restaurant I had just eaten in – no wonder their food had tasted so fresh! It sure limited the food miles I contributed to that day.

My hosts, Roy and Lisa (pictured) were retired school teachers living in the city centre; however, like many city dwellers, their high-rise balcony-less lifestyle didn’t allow for much more than a pot of herbs on a windowsill.

Although we hinterland folk would just about choke at the price, residents of the CBD pay $25 a week to use the facilities and become a part of the community gardens.

This cost raised quite a bit of discussion amongst us but was put neatly into perspective when the price differences between apartments with balconies or gardens were compared to those without, and the cost of buying fresh herbs and greens at the supermarket each week was factored in.

There were other benefits too, like getting an extra raised bed if you were prepared to water the communal gardens and other people’s plots, the sense of community that grows out of meeting those who share similar interests and ideals, not to mention the perfect positioning of the patch, practically on the banks of the Yarra, making it an ideal party location for fireworks and cultural celebrations.

You can find out more about the Pop Up Patch (run by the Little Veggie Co), on their website, and also on Facebook, and see the other magnificent ways they are bringing like-minded members of the community together with healthy and life-affirming pastimes.