The Little Veggie Patch Co.’s Pop Up Patch, Melbourne’s biggest community garden and a popular outdoor-function venue, may be forced to close.
In an official statement released on Wednesday, Federation Square’s general manager of operations Sharon Pollard announced the licence for the upper car park area within the landmark had expired and is now open to expressions of interest for future tenure.
Mat Pember, co-owner of The Little Veggie Patch Co., was shocked by Pollard’s statement.
“We represent everything Fed Square wants to be known as, so [the announcement] really baffles me. We’ve been here for four years, and it’s been so successful,” Pember says. “It’s an amazing sustainable space, which is great for the community, and then there’s this huge commercial aspect. It ticks all the boxes.”
A hub of vitality within the sharp geometrical surrounds of Fed Square, Pop Up Patch houses more than 140 garden plots, which can be leased for $25 per week. It's also a popular destination for weddings and parties.
Notable plot renters include George Calombaris’ fine-dining restaurant The Press Club, located on nearby Flinders Street.
“We have had six containers there for three years, and we use it a lot for seasonal ingredients. At the moment, we mainly grow garnishes, like silver fennel, dill and Greek oregano,” says Press Club general manager Nick Imanisani.
“It’s nice to tell our customers the herbs and the garnishes are grown in the green area across the road.”
With leasing applications closing July 8, Pember hopes the local community and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, who has publicly praised the space for being “so Melbourne”, will assist in saving the Patch.
“Our priority is to find a home, regardless of whether it’s Fed Square or not. We just want to promote new and exciting ways to grow food,” says Pember.