Pocket food in the park

The City of Bayswater Council in suburban Perth is allowing residents and ratepayers to plant “edible pocket gardens” within its parks and reserves.

Earlier this month, the council voted unanimously to free up the approvals process for growing edible plant species on those green spaces it manages or owns, exclusive of formal community gardens.

Deputy Mayor Chris Cornish said it is an exciting new initiative.

“In essence we have created some very simple guidelines that allow residents to nominate a smallish section of their local park and plant some edible plants, whether that be a tree or something similar,” Councillor Cornish said.

“If someone sees a suitable location where they'd like to plant a macadamia tree or something, they just have to phone or email the city, state what they want to do and where they want to do it.

“They might get approval then and there, or if the officers have some concerns they might suggest a different spot.

“Then they will get approval or written notice of why it has been declined.”

There was some resistance to creating the new approval process for the Edible Pocket Gardens Policy from the city's insurer, who raised risk and liability concerns.

Initially, the insurer claimed residents doing gardening and planting trees would be, in effect, volunteers for the City and have to do an induction course, keep a logbook of their hours and have their work checked.

“Our staff went back and explained to the insurers that these reserves are generally zoned for recreational purposes,” Councillor Cornish said.

“Gardening is recreational so it's not volunteering for the city, it is utilising the land for the purpose which it is zoned for.”