So we have just a week in Melbourne, a city I've long wanted to spend time in, and I have been looking at the best ways I can fit in as much as possible whilst here. So far we've seen penguins by night in the harbour, danced along a singing bridge somewhere deep in the city, eaten some amazing street food and explored many cool places.. Unfortunately I'm now 2 months into pregnancy and my morning sickness is taking hold with a vengeance, so I'm going to gently while away the remaining days exploring as many of the city's community gardens as I can (whilst slowly chewing on ginger sweets to make the tube rides bearable)..
Community gardens are everywhere in Melbourne. It actually reminds me a lot of Barcelona, where you can feel the spirit of the local people taking ownership of the streets, bubbling out through cracks in the pavement with the creation of gardens, raised beds, community enterprises all over the place. Abandoned bits of land are quietly and quickly colonised by painted beds made of scrap wood, nasturtiums and tomatoes seeming to just pop up all over the place, with beautiful painted signs letting everyone know just how important it is that we take back space for the most important of reasons, for our health and the health of our planet.
The local food movement feels very strong here (well, at least as strong as it can feel when dwarfed in the midst of a huge overwhelming city) and a quick google search brought up an array of gardens that I put onto my map and set out to find.
One of the most impressive that I came across was in St Kilda. The land has been in public use since 1881, and has been so beautifully designed and cared for that it feels half like a garden and half outdoor art installation. Paths meander through beautifully kept food plots, flower gardens, sculptures, murals and a childrens playground, all surrounding a central green kept for social events, a popular monthly farmers market and a space for children to play.
An indoor space provides home for a ceramics workshop, and the artist in residence invited me in to make some pottery whilst we chatted over tea. Whilst I was there a man came in and started to talk about a common friend and gardener who had recently passed away. Although it was a really sad time and story to hear, the thing that will stay in my memory was how he spoke of just how important this garden had been to his friend, bringing connection, community and support to him through really difficult times, and how other members of the garden space had come together to help his family and friends through the days after his passing. It really brought home how much of a community hub a space like this can be, and how it can provide a home to those who may be otherwise reclusive and socially isolated. Gardens, what beautiful medicine they can be.
You can find more on St Kilda community gardens at: https://vegout.org.au/