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TIME TO READ: 3m 15s

“We’re trying bridge the gap between traditional grassroots methods of growing food and city planning policies.”

The Melbourne urban agriculture initiative 3000 Acres is on a mission to convert vacant land into useable space for community gardens.

Founded by Scottish landscape architect and urban designer Kate Dundas, 3000 acres was born out of a desire to make fresh produce more accessible to inner-city dwellers. The not-for-profit organization began working with landowners, developers and government bodies to make the most of these underutilised urban spaces and bit by bit, green up the cityscape.

“Sometimes, when people want to start to grow food, it can be hard to find a site or know who to talk to for access or planning approval. We have noticed a lot of empty and underutilised land across Melbourne and beyond. We are helping to connect people who want to grow food, with land, with other people, and also with the right people in local government, to make sure everyone can work together.”

3000 Acres

3000 Acres first project was in a Collingwood carpark

3000 Acres kicked off with their first project in a carpark of 9 Smith Street, Collingwood thanks to the property developer, Neometro. Creating a modular garden design with fully transportable raised beds the group occupied the site for 18 months.

These garden beds have since moved three times around the Fitzroy area, with many of the original gardeners moving too. The portable plots not only allow for transportation from site to site, but also help deal with the difficulties that come with construction sites such as soil contamination.

3000 Acres

An online platform provides connection

“What we’ve found is that there are many people interested in using vacant land, but no one is really there to facilitate the necessary relationships,” says 3000 Acres project manager, Ellie Blackwood.

Inspired to provide a means for people to connect with urban sites and resources to grow food, 3000 acres have since built a website to provide an interactive map.

“We’re building a platform to connect people to land, resources and each other so that more people can grow more food in more places. We want to build holistic and sustainable cities for generations to come by changing how we use vacant land, establishing strong relationships between community, business, and government.”

Essentially the organisation navigates the complex world of bureaucracy that individual and landowners find too complicated. The result is an online space which grows a network of like-minded people interested in community gardening. Eventually 3000 Acres will reduce their broker-type role and the online platform will act to connect these green thumbs with vacant plots and landowners.

3000 Acres

3000 Acres

“We really try and get the gardeners to be as involved as possible, because the more work they put into the garden and the more they invest into it, the more they’ll care about it in the long run,” 3000 Acres project manager, Pippa French tells Assemble Papers.

A Pozible campaign inspires others

The 3000 Acres team are realistic about the limit of their community gardens. While they know they’re not going to conquer world hunger or rival the supermarkets, French believes the initiative will provide a better connection with fresh food as well as with people of their local community.

“I think a community garden creates another type of open space, as opposed to a park. It creates different opportunities for people to be in public spaces and for them to interact and to get to know each other. I don’t have kids and I don’t walk a dog, but a community garden is something I can go to every week to be a part of. I think that is really the most important thing.”

Like most startups, 3000 Acres ran a Pozible campaign which finished successfully on the 5 December raising $20,055, double what they hoped for. Word of their success in engaging communities in growing produce in urban plots has gained the attention of Sydney, with a initiative 2000 Acres recently establishing.

Thinking about joining the initiative and enhancing your community? Visit 3000 Acres for more info and to find a site in your area!

Images: burrowed from 3000 Acres.

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