By Sunny Liu
Behind the concrete facade of the 174 Collins St building is a growing indoor community garden with a purpose to bring fresh urban-grown produce to local tables.
Flourishing at the basement of Urban Seed’s Central House behind the Collins St Baptist Church, the micro farm is the brainchild of the Urban Seedlings team, comprising husband and wife Geoff and Sherry Maddock, Dan Ong and Mady Sieben, who all live in the building.
Earlier this year, the team transformed the disused basement into an incubator for micro greens and aquaponics, which is an integrated aquacultural system creating a symbiotic relationship between fish and plants.
With a goal to officially launch the program in March 2018, Urban Seedlings is raising “seed money” to fund this not-for-profit program.
Eventually, when the plants are harvested, Urban Seedlings will become a supplier of organic vegetables for CBD restaurants and cafes and a community safe haven for local residents to get together and get their green thumbs.
Geoff Maddock told CBD News Urban Seedlings wanted to promote a sustainable lifestyle in the CBD.
“We want to offer sustainable ways of community involvement and at the same time also present a hospitable, welcoming place for people to gather and share their skills,” he said.
“Urban Seedlings can create a social impact through showing people how to be sustainable and reduce their food waste through systems like a worm farm.”
Having lived in the US for the past 20 years, Sherry and Geoff Maddock were inspired by the not-for-profit Kentucky organisation FoodChain, which operates a large-scale indoor farm.
Mr Maddock said they also hoped to see locally-grown produce on tables in CBD restaurants.
“We want to grow part of the food in the urban centre. We have been liaising with local chefs and they are keen to source some of their vegetables from us,” Mr Maddock said.
The Urban Seedlings team said it wanted to develop a curriculum for students and local residents where they can learn how to turn their homes into an indoor green garden.
“We will host workshops so people learn how to grow it at home. There’s a huge potential for people to grow their own food in the urban area,” Mr Maddock said.
Urban Seedlings is already taking school tours and the students have been curious and interested in how the indoor micro farm operates.
According to the team, there are many benefits of having an indoor green space.
“It purifies the air. No machines can be compared to the efficiency of actual plants. It’s also very therapeutic and relieves stress,” Mr Maddock said.
CBD residents and workers will soon be able to check out the micro farm and purchase some succulent plants from Urban Seedlings.
For more information, visit urbanseedlings.org