Food meets art as urban gardeners and artists around the world are coming up with creative ways to grow their own, proving that being short of garden space doesn’t mean being deprived of home-grown produce. A desire to save money, an increase in interest in where food comes from, and a growing mistrust in food companies is inspiring artists and city dwellers to look at alternative space and methods for urban gardening.
At this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, food and art combine in unexpected places in a creative series aimed to prompt visitors to think about the origins of their food. ‘Feasting Vignettes’, which runs until tomorrow, is a series of installations which explore the concept of mindful eating: understanding where food comes from, food sustainability and the challenges of growing produce in an urban environment. A group of talented artists and landscapers were commissioned to address these issues and the resulting public artworks scattered throughout the city illustrate some of the challenges of urban food gardens and how these might be overcome.
”We’re using art as a vehicle for communicating ideas around sustainability, Slow Food and urban and edible gardens to a public audience,” said Din Heagney, artistic director of Platform Artists Group Inc. ”A lot of famous artists were renowned for their gardens… you have to have patience and vision to be an artist, and they’re the two qualities you need as a gardener as well.”
”[My piece] shows people that you can grow food in the city and in awkward places,” said Karen Sutherland, whose installation has taken over the steps of the State Library. ”If I can grow a garden here, others can have gardens on their garage roof, or on a balcony. Edible gardens enable you to use space vertically.”
This is being proven in England’s higher density cities, where urban dwellers are taking up balcony farming, and many are blogging their experiences. The Royal Horticultural Society reports that enquiries about vegetable growing have doubled in the past few years, and seed sales have increased by 40 percent. “You don’t need an allotment or garden to grow your own food, [in the UK] we’ve got the equivalent of 344 football pitches’ worth of growing space right on our windowsills,” says Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust, which launched a grow your own campaign earlier this year.
Meanwhile in France, a designer-landscaper team recently launched a line of portable urban garden bags made from porous textiles. The idea was conceived the company Bacsac as a solution to the constraints of traditional rooftop gardens, with bags that can be moved around easily and therefore provide endless possibilities of functional growing spaces in urban areas.