Good food grown local

Urban farmers are getting their hands dirty across Melbourne to cultivate nutritious food and community spirit.

Nina Ceddia is the passionate Chairperson of Kensington’s Stockyard Food Garden, set amid the rustic timber stock pens of the old Newmarket saleyards.

When she retired, Nina wanted to use her farming and business skills – not to mention her green thumb – to give back to the community. She championed the food garden from the first community consultation event.

‘I want residents to better balance their food intake through active participation in growing food and to promote freshly-grown foods to those who may not be able to tend to a garden day-to-day,’ Nina said.

‘Stockyard Food Garden is very young as it was only planted in June with a variety of winter veggies such as broad beans, peas, kale, lettuce, coriander, onions, garlic, herbs, a few fruit trees and edible flowers.

‘We want to create a colourful and peaceful environment that is welcoming of all ages and backgrounds.

‘We have a few young children that join in the working bees alongside their parents and one can see that they are in their element wanting to help and learn. It’s so great to see such enthusiasm in the little ones.’

‘We want to create a colourful and peaceful environment that is welcoming of all ages and backgrounds.’

So far, Stockyard Food Garden has 26 self-watering wicking beds – created from recycled material and filled with organic worm matter by Melbourne Award-winning company Wormlovers.

The garden is so popular that it has a long waiting list of enthusiastic locals who want to get involved, so Nina is seeking to increase its capacity and ensure that the project becomes viable and self-sustaining.

This work includes planting out extra garden beds at the neighbouring Kensington Community School, applying for funding to create 40 new wicking beds, and sourcing donated seedlings from local nurseries.

‘We don’t want to turn anyone away, so we want to set up an arm called Friends of Stockyard Food Garden, which will offer workshops, events, food swaps, cultural cooking and the occasional working bee,’ Nina said.

‘I have lived in Kensington for over 24 years and it was not until I retired that I began to really appreciate the wonderful Kensington community spirit.

‘With the support of City of Melbourne, the stockyard site can become an amazing place, fully-utilised and buzzing with local activities.

‘My personal aim is to see the entire stockyard site filled with fresh growing food and lots of community activities, including a combined men’s and women’s work shed, within the next five to six years.

‘My personal aim is to see the entire stockyard site filled with fresh growing food and lots of community activities.’

‘I know it will take effort but I also believe the Kensington residents will achieve it.’

Stockyard Food Garden, an initiative of the City of Melbourne’s Food Policy, will be formally launched with a special event on Saturday 20 October at 2pm.

If you are interested in joining Friends of Stockyard Food Garden, email stockyardfoodgarden@gmail.com

To find out more, visit food policy.