Australia’s first indigenous rooftop farm opens in Eveleigh

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Clarence Slockee with Governor David Hurley at the opening of the Yerrabingin rooftop farm at South Eveleigh.

“You don’t expect to see an indigenous farm in the middle of the city,” she said.

By Heath Parkes-Hupton,
Daily Telegraph
April 10, 2019

Excerpt:

What started as an idea drafted during a comedy gig about 12 months ago has become Australia’s first indigenous rooftop farm, right in inner-city Sydney.

Cultural start-up Yerrabingin opened the working urban farm on top of its headquarters on Wednesday, in the heart of Mirvac’s $1 billion South Eveleigh redevelopment.

The garden, featuring more than 30 native bush foods including finger limes, warrigal greens, native raspberries and sea celery, will be used for cultural education and its products will be sold as fresh produce.

Yerrabingin co-founders, Christian Hampson and Clarence Slockee devised plans for the 2000-plant garden alongside Mirvac to produce a project that recognised Eveleigh’s rich Aboriginal heritage.

Mr Hampson said he hoped it would influence future designs by showing how native plants can integrate a sense of history into new developments.

“What we’re hoping to do with this place is there will be new chapters written at the site,” he said.

“This is a significant step forward in embedding reconciliation into placemaking while harnessing the potential of Aboriginal social enterprise.”

It would be self-funded through 16 monthly workshops, including cultural art and weaving, sustainability classes on permaculture, and food origin and cooking lessons.

Located in Gadigal land, the redevelopment site includes Eveleigh’s locomotive workshops, which were a source of employment for Aboriginal people who worked in the foundry, boiler room and workshops.

Mirvac managing director Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz said the company had paid “careful consideration” to the site’s Aboriginal significance, both in modern times and before settlement.

“You don’t expect to see an indigenous farm in the middle of the city,” she said.

“By working with Yerrabingin we were able to co-create an experience at the precinct that will engage and connect the public to Aboriginal culture and traditions, while educating them on the history of the site.”

NSW Governor David Hurley and his wife Linda Hurley attended Wednesday’s event, while Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis did the honour of proclaiming the site open.

Mr Georgiadis said the farm would produce “food for the soul”.

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