The new community garden and Esk activity space at Inveresk have been designed to spark curiosity, foster a love for learning and encourage active, healthy lifestyles.
Visitors can now discover and learn about the cycles of growing and harvesting produce, play on multi-sport courts that accommodate basketball, netball and table tennis, or make use of the climbing wall, exercise space and seating.
The spaces were shaped by the community, history, and place, and delivered through the University of Tasmania’s Northern Transformation Program.
Professor Dom Geraghty, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Launceston) said the latest outdoor features are an important extension of the new Inveresk campus.
“We want to make sure the entire campus precinct is a place of learning and these spaces are essentially an outdoor classroom – a genuine place of active learning,” Professor Geraghty said.
“They will enable hands-on educational experiences for students, especially those studying nutrition, health, exercise science and physical education, while being a place that can be enjoyed by the entire community.
“The gardens will grow produce all year round helping to supplement the diets of the 450 students who will eventually be living on campus and those in need from the surrounding communities, while introducing people to the concept of growing, harvesting, cooking and eating.
“We’re in a time of very high food insecurity, and with the rising cost of garden produce it’s important that our university can positively contribute.”
Creating an edible campus experience
Around 1000 edible plant seedlings are already putting down roots thanks to the help of visitors who attended the site’s ‘Plant and Play’ opening event on Thursday, 14 July.
These range from herbs to silver beet, brassicas like cabbage and swede, kale and other leafy greens, with tomatoes, zucchinis and beans the next varieties to be added in spring.
They will be sustainably irrigated with rainwater collected from the rooftops of surrounding buildings and fertilised with organic matter from an on-site composting machine that can take up to 75 kilograms of the precinct’s green waste each day, and convert it into compost in as little as two weeks.
The edible plants are contained within 850m2 of galvanised steel raised garden beds, chosen for their durability and raw appearance to match Inveresk’s industrial heritage. Their unusual shape and diagonal grid align with the nearby railway spine and buildings to assist with site orientation.
Other features of the community garden include a glass house, shed, seating, hammocks, and Tasmanian native species which border the walking paths.
Jeff McClintock is the University’s Community Garden Coordinator who will be overseeing the maintenance and activation of this flourishing space.
“There are so many benefits to community gardens, from providing nutritious food to reducing food miles by growing food close to where it’s consumed,” Jeff said.
“It’s good for your physical health by getting you out and exercising, good for your social health to meet other like-minded people, and increasingly we’re understanding that connecting with nature is really good for your mental health.
“Food insecurity is a challenge many people in the community face, so creating places where they can come together, learn about local food systems and how to grow sustainable, healthy produce is an amazing opportunity.”
Supporting an active healthy community:
Distinctive bursts of purple and blue mark the location of the Esk activity space. The positioning of these colours on the courts and nearby surfaces tell the story of rising and falling river water levels dating back hundreds of years before there was a flood levee.
The line markings speak to Inveresk’s industrial past by revealing the former location of the railway and where a station platform once stood, with zig-zag patterns echoing the sawtooth building roofscapes nearby.
Landscape architect Alaric Hellawell, Principal - Realm Studios, helped transform what began as a vision into a design concept, imagined with feedback from students, staff, nearby organisations, schools and community groups.
“We’re trying to bring a connection to place into everything we do. We start from what we find and build on that based on the community’s future desires,” Alaric said.
“This is a place that should be making you ask questions, be inquisitive and discover new understandings. We have developed a canvas for the community to layer their own stories into and feel comfortable to get involved and learn about how to create a resilient and sustainable future.”
The community food garden and Esk activity space form part of a $6.8 million Urban Realm development - a series of interconnected outdoor spaces on site - with Baker Group leading its construction utilising a local workforce and materials as a priority.
The project was funded through the Launceston City Deal, with contributions from the Australian and Tasmanian Governments, City of Launceston and the University of Tasmania.
Anyone visiting Inveresk can access and enjoy the new spaces. Community members who are interested in learning more about the community garden, or becoming involved, can contact Jeff McClintock via email: email@example.com