Historic stock route in Kensington could be home to fruit picking

Historic stock route in Kensington could be home to fruit picking
Brendan Rees

Visitors to a historic shared pathway in Kensington may be able to pick their own fruit and nuts from trees under a project being considered by the City of Melbourne.

The community is being invited to have their say on the proposal, which would see fruit trees and other edible plant species planted along the popular Kensington Stock Route, which runs from Racecourse Rd to the Maribyrnong River.

Under the project, which would be called Kensington Stock Route Food Walk, walkers would be able to pick their own fruit including citrus, nuts, and figs – with the council aiming to establish a long-term planting plan for the stock route.

The City of Melbourne said the 1.5km shared pathway which winds through the precinct would provide a “unique location” to introduce edible trees, increase species diversity and improve local food production.

“The harvesting of the fruit would be undertaken by the local community and we want to hear from you to ensure we’re planting the types of trees that you would like to harvest and eat,” the council said.

“It is also a quiet area where locals can safely harvest fruit away from vehicle traffic and provides a link to the local community gardens.”

If approved, the proposal would introduce “a very gradual transformation of the landscape,” with edible trees being planted when existing trees required replacement.  

City of Melbourne councillor Rohan Leppert said enthusiasm among the community was growing for the project.

“As a Kensington resident I’m particularly excited about it,” he said. “The stock route is being used more than it ever has been because of lockdowns and people working from home.”

Cr Leppert said the council would not “uproot any of the heritage Peppercorns or anything like that”, but rather “this is a long-term vision to make the Kensington Stock Route somewhat more edible”.

“The plan that we’re floating is to gradually change the character of the area by planting edible trees as existing trees come to the end of their lives,” he said.

“Locals have been pretty excited about this so far, the feedback that I’ve been getting is we should really focus on natives so we can use the stock route to educate people about Indigenous plants and how they can be used.”

Greens state MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell said edible plants would be a “wonderful thing for all the community to share”.

“I’m really excited about the idea of potentially planting native edible shrubs and fruit trees along the stock route,” she said, adding it would be a great educational tool for children who may not have a garden at home.

The project, which forms part of the council’s Urban Forest Strategy, would also see “character zones” of edible deciduous, edible evergreen and edible native trees to guide species selection.

Prior to the 1960s, the old stock route was once used for cattle and sheep, which were led between the saleyards and abattoirs.

Consultation for the project closes on December 3 with plans to be finalised by January/February 2022 •

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