Permaculture at Docklands

The Age 11 June

STROLL along North Wharf in Docklands, among the towering apartment blocks, and at the end of the wharf you’ll come across the precinct’s best kept secret. In the midst of the concrete surrounds, near the far end of the wharf, an oasis of greenery has been created, an open garden with a profusion of ready-to-pick herbs, vegetables, and flowers. It is a community garden, the first to be introduced to Docklands….. The community garden was established as a trial after Monash University student Emily Ballantyne-Brodie approached Docklands’ developers Vic Urban and Lend Lease with a proposal. They gave the space, while the Environment Protection Agency funded the plants and garden supplies.

”Our ecological footprint per person in Australia is 50 per cent based around food, the water used in production and the travel involved in getting it to the city,” Ballantyne-Brodie says. Her concept is for the creation of a community hub, eventually on a permanent site, that will combine sustainability ventures. It already includes an eco-shop selling garden supplies in nearby Merchant Street, where classes are run on establishing balcony and rooftop gardens,  harvesting grey water and rainwater, organic gardening and permaculture design, and sustainable cooking.

Ballantyne-Brodie, 26, is studying for a master’s degree in environment and sustainability. She spent two years researching the idea of urban agriculture and community design at Italy’s Politecnico Di Milano.

Her passion for the project derives from her experience growing up at Upper Beaconsfield ”with a vegie patch and chickens”. The community garden has proved an enormous success with residents of Docklands, she says. She has been helped by a team of volunteers, including landscapers.