The edible town square gardens surrounded by cafes, restaurants, a gallery, station and library in Ringwood, Melbourne delighted and fascinated me yesterday when I stumbled across them. Today I caught up with good friend who lives locally. She told me this space has become her favourite local place to meet people and get a bite to eat - a peaceful place and absolutely so much nicer than the old-style food court inside the shopping centre. I completely relate to this. Those places are deafening, unappealing and impossible to have a conversation in. I also find them terribly difficult to manage with a pram and a two year old.
Anyway, I was very curious to find out more about this new edible (sub)urban design, so today I excitedly called the local municipal offices, Maroondah Council. I mentioned how wonderful I thought the herb gardens at the town square were and asked lots of questions about who looks after the gardens, who uses the produce, whether passers-by are welcomed to pick the herbs, who designed the space, and so on... There there was a brief silence, then, "Mmmm, what very good questions! Maybe the restaurants use it ... it could be for the markets? Just a moment, please. I will ask my team." After some time, she returned to the phone and suggested I contact Centre Management of the Eastland Shopping Complex and gave me their number.
I immediately called Centre Management at Eastland and asked the same questions. The friendly woman who answered seemed quite surprised but delighted that I was asking about this space, but her response was almost the same. "Just a minute, I check with the others"...then, "You'd best talk to the marketing section. Send them an email with your questions and they'll get back to you". I thanked her and sent off the email.
|Swathes of basil, mint, sage, rosemary lemongrass, lemon verbena fill the garden beds - surrounding the restaurants and cafes. |
Marketing? I thought I'd be put through to a design team, or facilities management, or perhaps community engagement or a sustainability officer. Perhaps it is just a marketing and promotional project. Surrounding the restaurants with herb gardens provides shoppers and diners with a "gastranomical experience" - urban agriculture, growing your own food and community gardens are so trendy right now. I refuse however to become the cynic so tomorrow I will endeavour to delve deeper and deeper until I find some real answers, and a clear design brief for the town square.
By the end of the day I had received a response from Centre Management marketing asking for my phone number to have a chat - so hopefully tomorrow I might be able to find out more. While I have them on the phone I am going to check about signage - the plants, the project, the protocol.
Meanwhile, my friend also told me of the rooftop gardens at one of the adjacent restaurant/cafes .... so guess where I'm heading tomorrow! I look forward to hearing back from Eastland, but I'm also definitely planning to visit the restaurants and ask around directly.
|Artichokes, thyme, lavender, mint, nasturtium growing at Ringwood Town Square in open accessible gardens to be enjoyed by the community.|
Labels: community gardens, herbs, urban agriculture