MCEC's Urban Farming Partner Picking Veggies from the Sky to Help those in Need
By Sarah Burt|
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is proud to be a partner of Melbourne Skyfarm who have harvested and donated a total of 650 kilograms of produce (8,840 servings of veggies) to MCEC’s food charity partner OzHarvest, since the first planting at the urban farm in September 2021.
Melbourne Skyfarm is still under construction, but the urban farming component has been operational for over 6 months.
The urban farmers have been growing, harvesting, and donating food to OzHarvest on a regular basis, assisted by some great volunteers from MCEC.
With the rising cost of living, OzHarvest has seen that those who require their help multiply, the sharpest increase having happened this year in April and May.
The Melbourne Skyfarm project is transforming the 2,000 square metre rooftop of MCEC’s Siddeley Street car park, into a thriving farm with sustainable and contemporary dining, education and event spaces.
MCEC Sustainability Manager Jacinta Caraballo said she is proud of what MCEC, and Melbourne Skyfarm have been able to achieve in such a brief time.
“At MCEC we’re always working to find innovative ideas that provide better outcomes for our community, our customers and our environmental footprint, Melbourne Skyfarm is the perfect project to bring all these elements together.
“To have had such an impact before Melbourne Skyfarm is finished construction is a testament to our partnership with Melbourne Skyfarm, and to see the harvest going to OzHarvest makes sure the crops are going somewhere they’re really needed.”
Ronni Kahn AO, OzHarvest Founder and CEO, said “We are deeply grateful to Melbourne SkyFarm and MCEC for their incredible support. In less than a year, 650kg of beautiful, fresh vegetables including lettuce, herbs, cauliflower, and carrots have been donated.
“With the rising cost of living, so many people cannot afford to buy fresh produce, so to have a regular supply, locally grown helps put healthy food on the table for families in need. The Melbourne Skyfarm project is sustainability at its best.”
Melbourne Skyfarm Director Brendan Condon, said “It is wonderful to see this former underutilised carpark growing significant amounts of vegetables and herbs for charity. Skyfarm helps us reimagine our cities as food producing, nature friendly spaces. With the current increases in the cost of fresh food, there is an acute need and ample opportunities to design food abundant neighbourhoods and city spaces.”
Melbourne designed and manufactured Foodcube wicking beds are being used for vegetable and herb production, while a number are being used as planters for fruit trees as well as flowers, herbs, climbers, biodiversity plantings and pollinator attractor plants.
Comparing the price of the produce to the price of fruit, vegetables and herbs at Coles online, Melbourne Skyfarm uses this metric to reflect the actual retail value of the produce paid by the public.
The crops grown so far include beetroot, snow peas, coriander, basil, silver beet, rainbow chard, lettuce, kale, rosemary, sage, thyme, radish, cauliflower, Bok choy, carrots, parsley, sorrel, mint, chillies and apples.
Melbourne Skyfarm is a collaboration between MCEC and three Melbourne based sustainability companies, Biofilta, The Sustainable Landscape Company and Odonata Foundation, backed by ethical investors, to transform a 2000 square meter rooftop car park into an urban farm and environmental oasis in the heart of the city.
Each year, MCEC improves its sustainability performance through measurable and achievable changes to operations. This includes eliminating single-use plastic, working to divert 90 per cent of their waste from landfill by 2025, aiming to source 100 per cent of their power from renewable sources by 2028, and achieving net zero emissions by 2030.
MCEC work with OzHarvest and several other community organisations to help deliver long-lasting, positive social impact in Victoria.