Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne
Dr Chris Williams lectures in urban horticulture at the Burnley Campus of the University of Melbourne where he specialises in urban agriculture. Chris' Novel Crops Project works to bring new or unusual edible species into cultivation, especially perennial plants of high aesthetic value and with links to migrant communities.
Urban Food Gardens in Public Spaces: variations on a theme of yield and inspiration
Edible plantings in public landscapes need to achieve aesthetic as well as functional goals to maximise their public health benefits. Gardens that look beautiful and abundant are usually productive and more able to activate urban green spaces both for food provision and recreation more readily. There is a dynamic relationship between aesthetic pleasure (visual and experiential) and the reality of seasonality and harvest periods in food gardens. I outline examples of food garden projects that are aesthetically pleasing for active gardeners and passive users of urban green spaces alike. I also argue that what makes these gardens work can be critically analysed and taught in design and hands-on horticulture courses; this is especially the case where 'harvest' is regarded as an aesthetic and functional task to be widely celebrated and encouraged in public spaces. Implications for training of hands-on operational staff in councils and for community gardeners are also discussed.