Have you noticed tiny productive gardens popping up in the city in the most unlikely places? Indoor spaces, balconies, courtyards, nature strips, roofs and community plots are being used across Melbourne to grow plants and food.
Over the past few months, we’ve been lucky enough to see some wonderfully bountiful gardens up close. As part of OGV’s Green City initiative, and thanks to a grant from the Lord’s Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, we teamed up with 3000acres - a group that encourages people in urban communities grow food for themselves - to open a range of productive backyards in the inner suburbs.
Backyards are normally invisible to outsiders - only close friends and family get to see what’s there. By breaking down that barrier and inviting people into some seriously productive backyards, we hoped to inspire and show them how to grow food in their own gardens.
Through food production workshops and guided tours, we aimed to share skills on how to grow fantastic fresh food sustainably, close to where it is consumed. One of our goals is motivate people to build a more resilient local food supply, and to have a heap of fun while they’re at it!
Starting November last year, together with 3000acres we opened 24 varied productive gardens and held 28 workshops on topics such as choosing the right fruit trees for your garden, summer pruning, techniques for growing veggies, attracting bees, and even raising quail. We heard gardeners sharing skills like permaculture techniques and collective garden management.
The project has taken on a momentum of its own. Almost every event booked out with a total of 1556 attendees of all ages and stages. The children attending, not to mention the children-at-heart, have discovered the joys of gardening to grow food.
Poppy in her garden
It’s also been rewarding for the gardeners, who enjoyed sharing their knowledge and experience with the help of willing OGV and 3000acres volunteers.
We’ve made a virtual tour series of some of the best productive gardens and workshops. This has been especially important for urban spaces too cramped to accommodate crowds. The virtual tours have enabled massive numbers to get a taste of these gardens online even though visits on the day may have been limited. The videos on our Instagram and Facebook accounts have been viewed over 20,000 times and counting!
So even if you couldn’t get there on the day you can still meet Lulu, Peaches, Creamy and Spangles - the chooks in Jessamy’s Northcote garden, and hear how they boost the productivity of her small urban backyard.
Or you can see how Keith and Clare have filled their apartment garden in Melbourne’s south east and have now spilled into the common areas to supply vegetables to all of the units in their complex.
Katrina provides expert tips on attracting bees to your garden and building up a bee corridor in your neighbourhood.
These are just a sample of the productive backyards you can access on the OGV website, and via Instagram and Facebook.
So if you’re hanging out for a garden fix over the winter months when OGV’s garden gates are closed, or you’d like ideas on growing fresh healthy food from your own backyard - take a tour. Bon appetit, and stand-by for news about our next Green City initiative!