Every now and then we get to design a completely different project. The 107 Projects Roof Garden in Redfern, NSW is home base for many Milkwood training workshops as well as the 107 Projects Gallery. For us it is one to remember not just for the awards it received but also as example of what can be achieved by an enthusiastic group of people determined to build a garden using planet-friendly methods. Built on top of the freshly waterproofed concrete slab on the first floor, the garden produces food for the local community, showcases permaculture garden techniques, provides teaching resources, and is a place to hang out at lunchtime or host events.

Nick Ritar from Milkwood gave us thorough briefing about the perils of the site and worked with the Milkwood team to build our combined vision for the garden. Everything had to be built without damaging the concrete. It really wasn't pretty in the beginning.


One of our design ideas was to build raised beds using curved gabion walls filled with recycled bricks that could double as seating for large groups.

313 3b

The finished gabion walls are built straight on top of the slab (no footings) and are topped with salvaged timber.

Gabions with recycled brick

Of course we had to think about how the design would work with many doorways and different uses.

use areas

Nick wanted to plant willow branches to create instant shade. They grew really well and make a green leafy canopy which is quite surprising to discover on the first floor in the main street of Redfern. All the dirt for the planting beds was carried in buckets up to the first floor one morning by volunteers!

 Roof garden


 We had an idea for a mobile food forest using wicking beds to grow fruit trees underplanted with beneficial groundcovers.

mobile planters

These elegant wicking beds made in small water tanks were the final result. Very clever of Nick to think of using a hand operated palette lifter to move them around.

Mobile wicking beds

There were green walls of all kinds used to hide the old walls and increase the growing space. The water collected from the roof is stored in the tank until it is needed for irrigating the garden.

 green walls

Fresh Landscape Design received national awards in 2016 from the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers for the 107 Projects rooftop garden:

  • Gold award - Commercial Landscape Design - Educational or Institutional
  • Gold award - Landscape Design - Rooftop 
  • Silver award - Landscape Management - Environmental

Read more about building and using the roof garden by Kirsten from Milkwood.