Melbourne Skyfarm: a public rooftop farm

A group of leading Melbourne-based sustainability companies are planning to transform a 2000-square-metre rooftop car park in the heart of Melbourne into a thriving farm with sustainable and contemporary dining, environmental education and conference spaces. The project will be nationally unique and is called Melbourne Skyfarm.

Located in Melbourne’s emerging Seafarer’s precinct, Melbourne Skyfarm directly overlooks the Yarra River across to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. It is perfectly located for tourists and locals alike, being close to Crown and Southbank precinct, major tram routes, cycling trails and Southern Cross train station. Melbourne Skyfarm is planned to be open to the public, providing a much-needed urban rooftop oasis for inner city Melbournians. Visitors will be able to tour the working farm, visit the orchard, sample rooftop honey, dine at the sustainable café, have a drink on the deck, hire unique event spaces, attend classes at the environmental education centre or enjoy the children’s playground. The venue is planning to open in late 2020.

Melbourne Skyfarm has been initiated by Melbourne-based nature regeneration and protection group Odonata, urban farming company Biofilta and The Sustainable Landscape Company, with the generous support of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) and City of Melbourne Urban Forest Fund.

The site is expected to host thousands of school students annually, visiting to participate in immersive education experiences on sustainable living and nature protection. Thousands more visitors are expected to undertake farm tours, enjoy workshops, visit the café or attend events. The site will demonstrate how to grow fresh produce and incorporate nature into city spaces, whilst using greenery to help cool the urban environment.

Melbourne Skyfarm designs incorporate the following elements:

• Advanced urban rooftop farm, rooftop orchard and beekeeping

Melbourne Skyfarm will feature an innovative, water-efficient, pop-up farming system designed and manufactured in Melbourne by urban farming company Biofilta. The Biofilta urban farming system has been judged as internationally innovative, and is low maintenance, soil based, self watering, ergonomic and can be rapidly assembled within days. The farm will grow over five tonnes of fresh produce per annum, with a large proportion of produce being donated to Melbourne food charities as well as being used on the menu of the Melbourne Skyfarm café. The farm will also incorporate a rooftop orchard and working bee hives.

• Environmental education centre and design hub

Melbourne SkyFarm will feature high-tech classrooms and a design hub, providing an exciting a platform for educating primary, secondary and tertiary students, community groups, businesses and future leaders about our natural world, the challenges it is facing and the rapidly growing field of sustainable solutions to these challenges.

Melbourne Skyfarm will showcase advanced sustainability features on-site, demonstrating and educating students about a range of best practice initiatives including passive solar design, renewable energy, urban greening, zero emissions buildings, carbon neutral transport, zero waste living, urban farming, rainwater harvesting, closed loop cities and urban biodiversity.

The Melbourne Skyfarm design hub will provide a space for designers, innovators and students to interact in the design of sustainable, nature-friendly cities and communities. The space will also allow students and visitors to use video conferencing to connect with environmental leaders and innovative projects worldwide, as well as virtually visit large scale nature restoration projects around Australia, some of which are being undertaken by Odonata.

• Café and event space

Melbourne Skyfarm will feature a 90 seat licensed café and elevated terrace and, drawing on discussions with and inspiration from the iconic Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm in New York ( ). Skyfarm will feature a unique range of public and hireable spaces for events, exhibitions, meetings, conferences and celebrations. The hospitality venues of Melbourne Skyfarm will champion the best practices in food production from around Australia including sustainable and regenerative farming, ethical food production, low-waste hospitality techniques, and native ingredient use. Melbourne Skyfarm will also champion sustainable, local food and wine from the Greater Melbourne and Victorian regions.

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