Urban Crop plants – photos by Earl Carter

Photo – Earl Carter

Have you been spotting tulips in unexpected places recently? Last week I was dashing around sourcing all manner of gorgeous things for a shoot… and it seemed that every single shop I visited (Safari Living, Loom Rugs and Mark Tuckey… to name a few) seemed to have these luscious blooms in their windows, each wrapped in a signature brown paper bag…!

Very curious indeed. ‘What is going on around here!?’ you might ask – ‘Who is filling all these shop windows with stunning fresh flowers, and where can I get my hands on some?’

The man behind this brilliantly hair-brained scheme is of course Melbourne’s best loved horticultural dynamo, Joost Bakker. Just launched this month, Joost’s Urban Crop project involves selling tulips, hyacinths, irises and herbs from the back of a van in various locations across Melbourne’s CBD.

I guarantee you’ve never seen such vibrant blooms… but in truth, it isn’t really the tulips that Joost is peddling. What he’s most excited to share is the unique nutrient-rich ‘Urban Crop Soil’ that each plant is grown in. This special soil mix, developed by Joost himself, is made from a blend of composted organic waste, worm castings, and a somewhat magical ingredient called Bio Char. It is a miraculous concoction which ensures the healthiest and most prolific flowering plants – in the most sustainable possible way.

Joost packages Urban Crop tulips - photo by Earl Carter

Joost and business partner Renee Nutbean hope Urban Crop will demonstrate the value of organic compost rather than fertilized soil – which takes vast amounts of fossil fuel to produce and doesn’t make for healthy, happy plants. Urban Crop plants are full of energy and nutrients – not pumped full of fertilizer and water only to slump into a sad heap once you get them home. Urban Crop herbs will happily sit in your kitchen for a week or two, ready for you to harvest as you need them. Urban Crop flowers will produce the most stunning blooms that last longer than any cut flower.

The idea is to take your bundle of gorgeous Urban Crop blooms or herbs home, keep the soil and root system intact, enjoy them for a week or more, then either compost the plant when it dies, or keep the bulbs for next year. All in all, it’s a much more sustainable way to give and enjoy flowers and plants at home.

Not surprisingly, Urban Crop stockists are growing quicker than Joost can update his website! He loves the idea that bars, cafes and all sorts of shops across Melbourne are selling flowers and plants in the middle of winter…. ‘Maybe this City will become famous for being able to buy living flowers on every street corner! Anyway I’ll just keep on dreaming..‘ he says!

Urban Crop plants are now stocked at over 40 Melbourne locations – from a bike shop in Greville st Prahran, to a book shop in Elwood… of course I spotted them at Safari Living, Loom Rugs and Mark Tuckey, and also you can try Leo’s Supermarkets in Hartwell, Kew and Heidelberg. OR for the real guerilla-gardening experience, hunt Joost and Renee down in their Urban Crop van… at various locations listed here.

Please leave a comment if you have another Urban Crop location tip-off!

Renee Nutbean in the Urban Crop van!