Urban Farms Cropping Up Around Melbourne
Growing your own food and buying locally grown food are two ways of reducing the waste associated with the food you consume. A number of urban farming initiatives are cropping up around Melbourne with the aim of providing food grown on your doorstep to your doorstep.
Could we move farms from outside the city into the city, removing transport emissions and the need to package the food, rather providing it in its raw, nude, fresh-from-the-dirt form to local customers living in the same street and neighbourhood? A few new initiatives in Melbourne are doing precisely this!
Spoke & Spade
We recently did a tour of one of Spoke & Spade’s urban gardens in Heidelberg. The self-professed “urban farm growing vegetables for a hyper-local community” has three urban sites that make up 750 metre squares of growing space. The other sites are in Heidelberg West and Ivanhoe. Using these spaces it produces enough to provide weekly veggie boxes to about 40 to 60 families, depending on the season.
Every bit of land of the rental property he lives in that we visited had been transformed from lawn or flowers to food-producing plants. He has a greenhouse out back full of seeds and a workshed full of gorgeous-looking produce he was preparing to wash and prepare, and a commercial freezer, which has been made to be energy efficient, that he uses for storage.
Simeon from Spoke & Spade hopes “to create not just good food in the local economy, but a greater sense of place in community” and “change, challenge and improve on food systems locally and abroad”.
You can order boxes of his organically grown, locally grown produce weekly or pay a visit to his farm gate freezer, which is stocked Wednesdays and Saturdays at the moment. Boxes can be picked up from local pick-up points or he does bike deliveries if you’re in an up to a 3 to 4 km radius from Heidelberg West. We took home some of his produce after the tour and can highly recommend its quality!
Strettle Street Market Garden
Strettle Street Market Garden is a similar urban farm that has recently begun producing food and selling boxes in Thornbury, Fairfield and Northcote. Launched in late 2018, the garden covers two residential properties and is split into three large plots.
Ryan, Jassy, Pippa, Lucille, Mitch, Adam and Gabriel, the backyard growers behind this garden, note that they “are approaching this project as a learning opportunity to get a taste for what it means to be a small-scale market gardener and develop their skills and confidence in the area”.
Through a carefully-managed crop rotation cycle, they are able to include a range of crops in their weekly boxes and they use interplanting to manage pests. If you’re interested in getting a weekly box, send Strettle Street Market Garden a DM or email via its Instagram page.
If you’d like to have a look at this urban farm, Open Gardens Victoria is doing a tour of it in March. More info here.
Another urban planning project that will soon be providing veggie boxes to its neighbours is Farm Raiser. Farm Raiser is a not-for-profit that is starting to establish urban farms on unused school land. It aims to “deliver a long-term learning resource and healthy fundraising opportunity for the school” through the sale of veggie boxes to the local community.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign on Start Some Good, it is now in the process of planning its first farm. The site of this pilot project is Waratah Special Developmental School in Bellfield. Using this pilot project Farm Raiser aims to establish a model of self sustaining school market gardens, including tracking its financial model, measuring community engagement, gauging fundraising capacity and figuring out how many people it can supply.
If you’re in any of these areas please support these worthy projects and if you’re interested in starting your own, Simeon from Spoke & Spade offers collaborative consulting. The more urban farms the better!