Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sustainability and Safety Through a Community Garden

Northey Street City Farm. Activating space on market day - all photos by Mateja Mihinjac


Mateja Mihinjac is a criminologist completing doctoral research in CPTED at Griffith University, Australia. She is a member of the International CPTED Association and been involved in criminal justice issues in Europe and Australia for a number of years. Mateja’s guest blog offers an excellent example of placemaking through community gardens.  

For an avid market-goer like myself, Northey Street City Farm with a Sunday organic market is a perfect place to stock up on my fruit and veggies for the week. By promoting social interactions at a micro-level, community gardens like Northey improve community integration, strengthen social ties, promote wellbeing and even improve safety.

These by-products of community garden activities cumulate in social capacity building (a basic principle of 2nd Generation CPTED), which advances self-sufficiency and a sense of community ownership. In turn that promotes what Jane Jacobs famously called the healthy ecosystem.

Urban gardens for placemaking have made appearances in this blog, such as those in Portland and Indianapolis. The Northey Street City Farm provides yet another version - the urban farmer's market.

A market-goer pedaling her own smoothie
Located in the suburb of Windsor in Brisbane, Australia, Northey gets swamped by both stallholders as providers of sustainably grown local produce and Brisbane residents as its consumers. It is, however, more than just a market.

Northey Farm is also a welcoming community garden that has been open since 1994 as a non-profit community organisation offering economically sustainable produce and community building activities through permaculture.

On a daily basis this place is activated by a number of placemaking activities; tours around the Farm, courses teaching how to start a community garden, how to garden and plant, cultural events, and playgroups for kids. The place also offers a quick meal and a cuppa at the garden’s cafĂ© or you can maintain your own vegetable garden within the Farm community.

Offering ample opportunities for refreshment and interaction
Translating these ideas across the whole city offers the prospect for building a vibrant city with positive interpersonal relations. It will help connect people with their environment while offering opportunities for fun and exploration.

Northey Farm symbolises the ideas stemming from Jane Jacobs’s vision of a modern urban city—to become a safe and liveable ecosystem. Because it is sustainable, it demonstrates how we can create thriving urban ecosystems in the years ahead.

View of the cafe at the centre of the market