In the face of unabated development and population growth, Melbourne has cultivated a healthy community gardening scene in recent years, with communal gardening hubs sprouting up all over town.
For many, the appeal of community gardening lies in the promise of fresh, organic, homegrown produce. Others turn to community gardening as a therapeutic escape from the confines of apartment living.
Whichever way you look at it, community gardening has taken root as a natural antidote to Melbourne’s urban sprawl. From the heart of the city to the suburban fringe, you needn’t look far to find the nearest community patch.
Melbourne City: Pop Up Patch
At the edge of the city, the gardening gurus from The Little Veggie Patch Co have transformed an abandoned car park into an urban horticultural oasis. Known as the Pop Up Patch, the site holds more than 140 D-I-Y veggie crates, which are available for rent to inner city green thumbs.
Some of Melbourne’s best eateries rent crates at this community garden, including Eau De Vie, Taxi Kitchen, and George Calombaris’ fine-dining restaurant The Press Club. Pop Up Patch also hosts a range of food, gardening and kids’ workshops that cater for all skill sets, including Edible Gardening for Beginners and Scarecrow Making.
Russell Ct, Melbourne VIC 3000 | http://littleveggiepatchco.com.au/pages/pop-up-patch
Brunswick East: CERES
It’s hard to believe that the abundant Wurundjeri land where CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) now stands was once a landfill site. In 1982, the local Brunswick community banded together to transform this desolate industrial wasteland into a thriving sustainability centre; complete with nursery, organic markets, education programs and community gardens.
CERES (pronounced ‘series’) now rents out about 50 garden plots to locals who have limited space for growing at home. Regular working bees and BBQs are hosted at the garden, giving gardeners a chance to mingle, share freshly grown produce, and swap seeds. The CERES community garden has a pesticide-free policy; soil is kept fertile with manure and compost from the stables.
Stewart St & Roberts St, Brunswick East, VIC 3057 | (03) 9389 0100 | www.ceres.org.au
St Kilda: Veg Out
Tucked away behind Acland Street, a stone’s throw from Luna Park, Veg Out is St Kilda’s best-kept secret garden. The site was once a lawn bowling green, but it now contains more than 140 organic, chemical free garden plots, where locals enjoy getting their hands dirty.
In true community spirit, it’s all about sharing at Veg Out. Unlike most Melbourne community gardens, Veg Out doesn’t enforce borders between individual plots and shared land. And as a result, the garden has become a fertile space for the cross-pollination of ideas, plants and friendships. An eclectic mix of rabbits, chickens, budgies and quails live on the grounds too.
Shakespeare Grove & Chaucer Street, St Kilda VIC 3182 | www.vegout.org.au
These are just a few of the community gardens that we’ve unearthed in our Melbourne travels. Do you have your own little plot of leafy goodness? Tell us which community gardens you dig the most.