When Victory Gardens was established nine months ago we articulated our goals as being to develop transportable infrastructure for urban greening on rooftops or other vacant or disused areas in and around commercial buildings in the Newcastle CBD.
We envisaged that our activities would contribute to the overall image of the Newcastle CBD and provide a set of lungs for the city while simultaneously assisting in the beautification of the city centre.
Urban agriculture goes “hand in glove” with aspirations for the Newcastle city centre long held by planners and architects. In our view, this activity can provide (through practical small scale steps) a prism through which the community may engage in a style of “future gazing”.
Productive use of vacant land or underutilised spaces is a meaningful thing for the community and actively engages them.
As you know, Newcastle is no stranger to meaningful social enterprise, with initiatives such as Renew Newcastle, placing Newcastle at the forefront of the Australian creative economy. Urban agriculture folds neatly into this milieu, providing further opportunities for local people to engage in a craft to benefit themselves and their local community.
So what are the real benefits to green roofs and walls, and urban farming more broadly, in the city? According to Australian leaders in this field at the City of Sydney, they include the following:
Air Quality: Greenery on roofs and walls helps remove harmful air pollutants, making the air cleaner and healthier. They can also improve air quality inside the building.
Beauty: Green roofs and walls are beautiful. They can turn a drab wall or bitumen roof into a striking feature of the building.
Biodiversity: They provide space for insects, reptiles and bird life to find water, food and shelter. Biodiversity is vital for a healthy urban environment.
Health: The human need to be around living plants is called ‘biophillia’. Numerous studies show the physical and mental health benefits we experience from being in and around growing plants.
Insulation: They insulate buildings, reducing our reliance on active heating and cooling, and energy consumption.
Noise: They also help insulate the building from outside noise creating a quieter and more peaceful indoor environment.
Space: Previously unused space can be turned into valuable space for recreation, growing food, gardening and so on.
Roof life: They can extend the life of a roof by up to 40 years, limiting exposure to sun and weather. Green roofs keep temperatures more even and minimise expansion and contraction from temperature changes.
Solar panels: They improve solar panel efficiency keeping the surrounding temperature at an optimum level.
Urban heat island effect: Hard surfaces absorb heat from the sun and radiate it back into the environment, leading to higher city temperatures. Green roofs and walls lower this effect, making the city a more comfortable place.
Water: They slow and clean the rainwater run-off from buildings, improving our waterways.
Supporting Rooftop Gardens in Newcastle
If you like the idea of a community led rooftop garden in Newcastle you can support this idea, at https://newcastle.ourcommunitymap.com/ideasbank#marker/1762
Stay in touch via our blog, Facebook, or Twitter and Instagram. You may have an idea for an edible garden at your workplace or home. There are so many fabulous opportunities to enliven the spaces we live in. We have the infrastructure to make this happen and love to share ideas.