Article and Photo: Russ Grayson, Pacific Edge, January 2011
Slim striped eggplant, fat purple eggplant, green tomatoes, flares of bright yellow sunflower, corn coming into cob and kale… what has happened to Sydney’s Town Hall Square?
To put it simple, the farm has come to town… or the garden, at least. Where there was once only paving, passers-by glance, realise that this is no ordinary garden, then stop to look at the edibles that have invaded the Square.
Over the coming weeks fresh produce will ripen before city workers’ eyes, including tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, sunflowers, lettuce and silver beet.
The display is part of this season’s City of Sydney Living Colour display which can be seen in the city’s squares. Themed ‘green living’, the display celebrates community gardens and embraces new ideas to help residents and businesses adopt sustainable practices by reducing carbon emissions, water and energy used when delivering food from growers to shoppers. In Australia, the food supply chain produces 23 percent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions – that includes direct emissions from agriculture and emissions generated from energy, transport, food production, processing and distribution.
There are 15 community gardens in the City of Sydney area which are run by the local community to grow herbs, flowers, vegetables and conserve rare plants and seeds. The City is also planning for a new City Farm which could be a hub for food production and sustainable living in the heart of the city.
The City’s latest Living Colour display includes 30,000 individual plants – a flourishing mix of vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and colourful annuals – most of which are edible.
The Town Hall Square display includes vegetables, herbs and flowers useful for insect pest management, and smaller displays off to each side planted to culinary and pest management herbs.
The display will be in place for 6-10 weeks and following that will be replanted in community gardens, schools and parks across the city.
The City is not encouraging people to actually eat the vegetables on display; this is a live demonstration of how fresh produce can be successfully grown in pots in inner-city conditions.
It is anticipated, though not encouraged, that the odd eggplant and tomato will disappear into briefcases and end up on the dinner plate. Then there’s the question of whether flocks of passing cockatoos will realise that those big yellow sunflowers are packed tight with crunchy, tasty seeds.
Town Hall Square may not be so edible for some time to come.
Other LIve Green, Living Colour installation themes around the city include: community gardens, rooftop gardens, vertical gardens, ethical shopping, composting, worm farming, waterwise plants, reuse & recycle, saving water, grow veggies, food waste, grow fruit trees.