Melbourne Polytechnic students support Victorian community through urban farming
Melbourne Polytechnic students are helping foster sustainable food systems by supporting the Melbourne Food Hub, as a practical way to learn about plants and different farming options and support the community during a critical time.
A group of over 30 students from Melbourne Polytechnic’s Diploma of Applied Horticultural Science and Certificate III in Landscape Construction, alongside teachers Tim Wilson and Kate Bryce, have visited the Alphington urban farm since last year to construct the timber base of the wicking beds and help level and install the final rows of the market garden.
The students helped to level and compact the bases of the beds, install food-grade plastic liners and ‘WaterUps’ recycled plastic-wicking cells, as well as forming mounded rows with soil and compost which will shortly be planted with autumn vegetable crops.
The Melbourne Food Hub’s ‘Grow/Source/Eat’ initiative gives Melbournians easy-to-access fresh, locally sourced and sustainably grown produce, while providing farmers with a living wage, to enable a direct-to-consumer network through vegetable subscription boxes.
Bringing together the unique skills, resources and networks in the community, the initiative aims to make sure everyone is well fed into our future while rewarding our farmers for their hard work. And being available locally has helped reduce food miles and create a resilient network of food producers of the community at this time.
As Victorians make their way through a second lockdown with ramped-up restrictions, these vegetable boxes have given locals access to quick and no-fuss groceries. With the environment also at the forefront of public consciousness, the boxes support the movement towards plastic-free food packaging.
Filled with fresh produce from the Melbourne Food Hub’s urban farm in Alphington and surrounding farms, the farmers use regenerative farming techniques to limit waste, meaning the vegetable box content changes each week based on what’s in season.
Landscape and Gardening teacher, Tim Wilson, who coordinated Melbourne Polytechnic’s involvement with the Melbourne Food Hub, commented:
“By supporting this fruit and veggie box initiative, we are working towards a different food distribution system, and by supporting this initiative we will work towards a more sustainable future for our farmers and ourselves.
“It’s been a great of hands-on experience for our students learn about bed preparation, wicking bed installation, water conservation, and sustainable food production.”
Clare Harvey, Alphington Urban Farmer, added:
“We feel very grateful for Melbourne Polytechnic’s students’ contributions and for helping to transform what was a contaminated ex-landfill site into an abundant above-ground urban farm.”
For more information on the Melbourne Food Hub’s ‘Grow/Source/Eat’ initiative visit: melbournefoodhub.org.au/