Urban Commons, Melbourne<br/>
Shawn Ashkanasy<br/>
Justin Hutchinson<br/>
<em>Urban Commons kitchen garden</em> 2013<br/>
Supported by the Spotlight Charitable Foundation<br/>
© courtesy the artists

Melbourne Now countdown – day 17

Urban Commons, Melbourne
Shawn Ashkanasy

Have you ever walked through our city and longed for a sign of nature, for something green, living and growing? What would our city look like if we suddenly filled it with vegetable and herb gardens, which would not only look fabulous, and feed communities but also bring people together?

Last week, NGV Schools met with Justin Hutchinson and Shawn Ashkanasy from Urban Commons who design community gardens, which blend into everyday urban spaces.

Many have heard of landscapes and seascapes but have you ever heard of ‘foodscapes’? Foodscape is a specific term Urban Commons use to describe the kinds of productive spaces they create through their designs. They have coined the word to show that food can be a fundamental part of the urban environment, and that the way it is incorporated can be beautifully designed.

During our meeting Shawn and Justin discussed the notion of foodscapes and cities around the world which have ‘food deserts’ or  places where affordable healthy food isn’t available to those living in certain areas. The Urban Commons Foodscapes are scalable, flexible edible garden spaces made for cities, which have been designed to address this problem.

For Melbourne Now Urban Commons are in the final stages of setting up an Urban Commons Foodscape, which will include a greenhouse, a Wayward forest and a Kitchen Garden in the Garden at NGV International.

Students visiting this installation will have the opportunity to participate in interactive and educational programs which explore novel ways to grow and eat food and recycle food waste. They will also be able to contribute to a collective mural on the Urban Commons greenhouse.

Further opportunities to extend learning include programs such as

•       Field naturalists – Learn to look, look to learn and create a nature journal to record observations and ideas

•       Good enough to eat – Design your own food plate incorporating forms, patterns and images inspired by an edible garden and the food cycle.

•       On message – Urban Commons have a message for you! You have an hour, a video camera and an innovative, productive garden setting in the middle of the city, and your imagination. Create a short video that will inspire people to look at the urban environment in a new way.

Fabulously suited to the Australian Curriculum Cross-Curriculum Priority, these programs will encourage an appreciation of the need for more sustainable patterns of living, and help students build the capacities for the thinking and acting that are necessary to create a more sustainable future.

Bookings essential

T. 03 8620 2340 (12–5pm weekdays)

E. edu.bookings@ngv.vic.gov.au

Projects within the garden at NGV International are supported by Spotlight Charitable Foundation.