Nature lovers and environmentalists have referred to nature strips as a waste of space and believe it’s time we turn our attention to this often-neglected patch outside our homes.
Some even questioned the definition of the word nature strip, arguing that there is so little nature on most nature strips.
Eco-friendly individuals and groups are looking at changing the use of the nature strip from being an area of often neglected grass used by visitors when parking, the postman when delivering your mail and the dog stopping by to do its toilet.
Improving nature strips by converting your footpath into a food forest proves to be a fantastic way of connecting communities. It is particularly a great option for people living in higher density areas with limited backyard space.
Taking your vegetable garden to the street redefines the traditional role of nature strips and develops a community garden. Growing seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices on nature strips help beautify the area and most importantly promotes health and wellbeing through eating your own home grown fresh produce.
The Urban Food Street model has been an inspiration for many Australians to get out onto the nature strip and start making productive use of it. Urban Food Street is a built environment initiative, which began in 2009 in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast of Buderim to tackle Australia’s social suburban isolation by using edible plant species, grown on nature strips as a cause to generate socially active and engaged suburban streets.
Today, Urban Food Street acts as a leading model for Australians to give purpose and meaning to their nature strips.
However, some councils have fairly tight regulations and strict policies regarding planting on nature strips. It is advised to always check with your local council before planning to plant anything.
One council in Melbourne’s north, the Hume City Council has provided members of its community with nature strip guidelines around what you can and can’t do. The council allows its residents to plant low growing species with a maximum height of 400mm and doesn’t allow the planting of trees or vegetation that blocks existing footpaths and storm water inlets. The council also provides ‘The Nature Strip Landscaping and Planting Information Sheet’ which contains information that will guide residents in their planting choice.
“Council plants over 5000 street trees across the municipality every year, with many of these on nature strips, providing shade and climate control to the urban environment”, says Hume Council’s Director of Sustainable Infrastructure and Services, Peter Waite. He says, “Council understands the social value that communal planting brings to the community, and this has driven, in part, Council’s development of community gardens and support for community led food growing initiatives.” The Council has produced a vast number of community environment projects focused on food growing says Mr Waite.
Urban Food Street encourages providing environmentally sustainable and functionally rewarding streets for people to connect. In 2015, the Urban Food Street neighbourhood produced 900 kilograms of bananas and 300 cabbages.
Growing crops on your nature strip can be an attractive, functional and productive use of what can tend to be a waste of space most of the time.