Category 10

Commoning Sense: Growing Food In Public Places


The phrase ‘eating the suburbs’ is for many of us a rare pleasure. Most of the time, public vegetation means ‘don’t eat it’. Look at it, stand under it, breathe it in… but not too deeply in case your allergies flare, and whatever you do, don’t put it in your mouth. Eating from our everyday environment is far less common than common sense might imagine. There just aren’t that many public spaces purpose-grown to maximise edible yields.

The concept of growing food in public spaces seems stuck in first gear in most of our towns. As urban areas become increasingly dense and pricey, growing food in our private spaces becomes a harder ask. While pot plants, backyards, balconies and planter boxes are noble food growing efforts, what about those great big public spaces: parks, nature strips, verges, footpaths, even botanical gardens. Couldn’t we harvest those public assets?

A few folks around the country reckon we can and perhaps should. They’re inviting us to eat our suburbs and make our environment a whole lot tastier. They are the friends of fruit trees in Daylesford, champions of the council-grown carrot in Bega, and defenders of the pawpaw in Buderim.