Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Edible Town Square part 2

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. 


Swathes of basil, mint, sage, rosemary lemongrass, lemon verbena fill the garden beds - surrounding the restaurants and cafes. 
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.

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.

4 comments:

  1. I hope you get some answers to your questions...the garden beds look amazing.

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  2. Hello and greetings from Tassie. Just came over from Rhonda's blog. Very interesting blogpost... so wonderful to have those community gardens.

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    1. Welcome - thanks for visiting. I just love community gardens. I have been involved with them for more than half my lifetime.

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  3. I found out today that the restaurants and the public can harvest the food. The beds are looked after by a contractor. As well as adding fresh food to the plates of Ringwood diners, one of the key aims is apparently is to provide a wonderful sensory experience for the people gathering there. I understand it is part of the social and environmentally responsible actions of the shopping centre development and that they would have received a higher Green Star rating for adding urban food gardens into their designs. The person I spoke to today from Eastland Centre Management said it also just made good sense because that are attractive and hardy, and really visually add a lot to the space.

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