Urban Agriculture Study

The following projects are part of an RMIT university design studio exploring access and food production in Diggers Rest. The studio was initiated by Fiona Harrisson from the Landscape Architecture Program at RMIT University as part of a student project in response to a report ‘Investigating Food Security Within Melton Shire’ in 2007 by Djerriwarrh Health Services that identified both Diggers Rest and Rock Bank as ‘food insecure’. Residences have to travel large distances to obtain fresh fruit and vegetables, in Diggers Rest it is about a 12 km round trip to Sunbury. Diggers Rest is a case study for a larger research project looking at the potential of food production in urban environments, otherwise known as urban agriculture, which is becoming increasingly relevant particularly in light of the environmental and social challenges of the 21st century. In addition to the production of food, urban agriculture also asks us to rethink urban and suburban development and this is part of the mandate of the following projects.

These project have been generated by a group of students who have spent a semester exploring the issues and possibilities in Diggers Rest. These projects are not intended as solutions to a problem as this is the domain of the community and local council; rather they are intended to generate discussion. We are aware that we are outsiders but it is hoped may allow a freshness of approach that is sometimes not afforded to those up close.

The studio was set up within the ‘real’ world context so student has the opportunity to engage directly with the people for whom their projects are intended. The studio was structured around two community meetings in Diggers Rest, which were intended to solicit feedback through talking with the people directly involved with their projects on the ground in relation to access to fresh fruit and vegetables in Diggers Rest the community dialogue was intended to be more than just consulting the community. Its intention was to expose students to the implications of urban agriculture as through the eyes of the people directly involved in maintaining and developing the ideas that designers leave behind. Ideally the project ideas offer the community some stimulus in the conversation around food security.

Studio brief:
Through various site visits the student were asked to develop an approach to food within Diggers Rest. The students had to decide what they thought was the best way to respond to the issue of food access including the best location within the town. Whilst the students were bringing in new ideas, they were also required to respond to the forces, which are described as ‘bottom up’. Bottom up includes responding to local spatial and physical conditions, including soil and water, and more significantly, through dialogue with the local communities, which is why the community forums played on important role.

The studio ran over one semester, from July to November in 2008. During this time the students explored Diggers rest through various site visits. During this time there were two community forums held by RMIT University, each tome 700 invitations were delivered to letterboxes. The first forum was held at the Lawn Bowls Club on Saturday the 30th August. It was to get input from the residents into the issues facing the town before proceeding with developing some design ideas. The second forum was a presentation of student work held in the Kindergarten on Saturday the 11th October. This was an opportunity for residents to provide feedback on the design ideas and for the students to incorporate them into their project. We hope they make sense without the verbal commentary.

Where to from here:
We welcome your comments, good and bad, as we are still keen to know what you think. The process, however, is now in the hands of the community as the RMIT project is now complete. Here are the projects for you to with them what you will. Thanks to those of you who shared your insights and time with us along the way. This is an invaluable part of the learning process.

Thanks to:
The Design Institute at RMIT University for research funding.
Melton Shire Council
Diggers Rest Community Web Links (DiggersRest.com)
Diggers Rest Residents Association
Pam Morgan Food For All Program Officer, Melton Shire

Studio Research collaborators:
Fiona Harrisson, Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, Architecture and Design
Melanie Dodd, Lecturer in Architecture, Architecture and Design
Dave Mercer, Associate Professor, Coordinator, International Urban Environment, Global Studies, Social Science and Planning

Studio Critics:
Melanie Dodd,
Jane Shepherd
Soumitri Varadardran
Blake Farmar Bowers

Book Design: Jasmine
Production and ideas: George Wright

Air Space Invaders

A new area of concern in relation to noise complaints is Diggers Rest.  The number of noise complaints from this area has increased markedly.  A Diggers Rest resident has been liaising with Melbourne Airport and it appears that the complaints have been triggered by a planning and development issues involved the Melton Shire Council.  Steve Finlay representing Melton Shire Council confirmed that a community group is opposed to a motion that council passed in regard to a development at the October 2006 council meeting.  Gilbert Richardson commented that APAM is available to speak to the community group on aircraft noise management.  Steve responded that he would advise APAM as to whether this will be required. Action: Steve Finlay to advise as to whether APAM involvement will be of assistance with the issue.  Steve will also provide a copy of the October council report to APAM, which outlines the planning issue causing community concern.

Market Days

Our market days held at the Diggers Rest Primary School are becoming more and more popular for stall holders and bargain hunters alike. Take the hassle out of organising your own garage sale and just bring all your gear to our next market day.  Stalls include bric-a-brac, fairy floss, novelities, kids entertainment, plants, clothes, hot food and lots more…

Crafts and produce are available from local participating residents.  Come and help us to make our market days a real family and community event for all to share.  Proceeds from the market days assist our Primary School and students.

Next Market Day – Saturday November 15th 2008

To book at stall please phone Tracey on 0425 705 114

Keys Please Session

Melton Shire Council Youth Services are holding a “Keys Please” session for learner drivers or soon to be learner drivers and their parents or supervising drivers. The session will aim to provide information about getting the maximum benefit from the Learner period in order to become a responsible and safe driver.

The Free 90 minute session will be held:

Wednesday November 19th
Youth Services 193 Barries Rd Melton
Time: 7:30pm to 9:00pm

You’ll find out about:

complexities of the driving task
why young drivers are at risk
resources to assist you to get more on-road practice
getting supervised practice in a variety of road, weather and traffic conditions
ways you can maximise your on road experience
encouraging support from parents in gaining on road experience.

Download invitation flier http://www.diggersrest.com/files/pdf/2008/invite_19-11-08.pdf