Food in our streets and centres is a growing and sustainable Placemaking trend. When John O'Callaghan is asked to provide advice on community gardens to Council's and developers he focuses on four key areas - community, design, management and safety.
Image - St Kilda Community Gardens and Art Studios, St Kilda, Melbourne, AUS: a very large and impressive garden and art space in the heart of a busy city centre.
How do we re-learn to grow food? Community gardens are one answer - connecting community, promoting sustainability and growing local food for local people. What should it look like? How should it run? Who should be involved? Here's what I focus on.
1. Community: The public, one of the most important aspects to community gardens, is surprisingly often over looked. They require community ownership - it’s an fundamental relationship between people and place. It can be facilitated from top down arrangements, but requires grass root support. All community gardens are different and reflect the unique needs, wants and aspirations of the local people. What might be appropriate in one place might be completely wrong in another.
2. Design: The design of any Community Garden should focus on the behaviours of local residents and reflect the character of the place. It’s often thought that community gardens are ‘pretty’. In reality they’re a functioning farm with organic waste and ‘unmanicured’ plants. However in saying this, there are opportunities to incorporate public art and welcome the public on arrival. They should also connect with any nearby bicycle or pedestrian paths and provide an important pause on the journey. The Community Garden at Summer Hill is located on a desire line between two destinations. Optimising interactions with locals and providing casual surveillance to the space.
3. Management: The staging and management of any Community Garden should respond to community interest. This will save on initial costs and reduce risks associated with setting up a large community garden. It will also provide time for the community to build a relationship with the space and determine the eventual vision or model for the garden. The Community Garden at Green Square for instance, is made from recycled palette material and is a simple communal plot. As the community grows and membership increases, it’s envisaged the Community Garden will also grow and mature.Add a comment