IT WAS an accidental discovery. Fiona spotted it while we were walking along Evans Street down by the wharves. We found the gate and went in.
“Hmmm… rows of large compost bins, raised planters, fruit trees, veges and herbs,” she said as she wandered off to check out the garden.
We were the only people in the Edible Precinct, which is part of the Macquarie Point redevelopment where old waterfront port facilities are being repurposed to new uses. I’m not going to hazard a guess at its dimensions, but it is a large garden of self-watering planters—wicking gardens, in the jargon. They were supplied by WaterUps, a wicking garden construction company.
“They’ve got citrus and olives, apples, stone fruit, figs, loquat, pepinos, apricots and lots of herbs and vegetables”, Fiona tells me on completing her reconnaissance of the garden.
Plans are to recycle used grain from the Hobart Brewing Company, just down the road, to feed the worm farms. It’s an example of closed-cycle production where the waste of one process, brewing beer, becomes the feedstock of another—worm farms to produce vermicompost as garden fertiliser.
Although more a botanical or educational garden of edibles rather than a production garden, The Edible Precinct is an example of projects which grew out of the surge of interest in urban agriculture. That had its modern origins around 15 years ago in parallel with the local food movement. Like other once-edgy social trends, the movement mainstreamed.
The actual origin of urban agriculture in Australia, as a social movement of sorts, lies in the practice of community gardening which started in Australia in 1977 in Melbourne and which reached its apogee in the opening years of the present century. Like other cities, there was a viable commercial market gardening, orcharding and chicken production industry within the suburbs and on the urban fringe before that. It still exists but is being consumed by suburban expansion.
What of The Edible precinct? It’s worth taking a walk through it next time you find yourself with time to spare in downtown Hobart.