The Streets of Melbourne, 2014
Watch the HerbShare Pozible Video:
Listen to Flynn Hart talk about Herbshare on ABC radio here:
Pollen Studio has been helping Ben Hart, a local resident of Carlton North, to develop an idea about increasing access to a diversity of abundant fresh herbs while fostering stronger community networks in his neighbourhood.
Above: Ben tending to his laneway herb tubs with prototype HerbShare Markers
HerbShare is about bringing neighbours together and creating a new food resource by mapping herbs and other food growing in front yards and public areas. These maps will not only tap into an otherwise private and un-shared resource, but also encourage people to increase their production of food and community networks. Already many houses across Australia contain herbs on their front fenceline.
Above: Pollen’s prototype pallet planters in front of our Westgarth hideout – Please help yourself!
HerbShare would give households and local businesses the option of placing their herbs on an online neighbourhood map, thereby turning it into a community resource. Then, when anyone participating in the scheme logs on to the HerbShare website, they see where to find different kinds of herbs in their community. The website would be set up in such a way that people could manage their listing on the map. For example if their rosemary bush was becoming denuded due to over-picking, they could give it a ‘break’ by changing its online status to a HerbShare ‘X’.
As another safeguard, participants would be sent a set of HerbShare Herb Markers when they signed up, indicating they were participating in the program. These signs would effectively be the ‘consent’, with one side showing the HerbShare green circle indicating the herbs are available, and the other side showing the HerbShare ‘X’ indicating the garden or particular herb needs a rest from picking.
It is hoped that those with existing herb gardens would have an incentive to grow a wider range of herbs. For instance, someone with only rosemary would see that there was no parsley in a six-block radius and could decide to establish some. This would contribute to a sense of shared purpose in a local community while encouraging effective urban food production.
Above: Pollen’s prototype HerbShare planters (Westgarth)
HerbShare also promotes a more sustainable approach to food production by harnessing existing private urban gardens to help feed neighbourhoods. If successful, HerbShare has scope to expand to include workshops, fruit and vegetable swaps and even other foodstuffs like eggs. So many possibilities!