Melissa Marjo




Organised and funded by Urban Pantry and supported by Waterfront Auckland, ‘Growing the Future’ was held at the iconic Silo6. From April 17th through to 27th, Silo6 was transformed into a lush yet gritty urban garden. Unitec Diploma Landscape Design students, Sam Jennings, Melissa Marjo, Trish Reynolds and Sally Trolove, led the design. Created specifically for ‘Growing the Future’ the project explored and celebrated food growing for inner-city residents through installations, artwork, workshops and film.


The site chosen was inside one of the 14 meter high, 7 meter wide concrete silos. This unique space provided some particular challenges, not least keeping the garden looking its best over the ten day event with minimal sunlight. 

Light sources were limited to narrow interior louvre windows that allowed light from adjacent silos, interior electric lighting and an east facing roller door that could be opened during the day – although this exposed the garden to strong wind.

The design reflected Wynyard Quarter’s beginnings as an industrial site, formerly a working port and tank farm, as well as its more recent incarnation as a public park.

The requirements for the materials used were low cost and recycled; achieving a high impact installation on a limited budget. Materials used included rusted corrugated iron panels, bricks, concrete cinder blocks and recycled air conditioning ducting, all supported by timber framing and scaffolding to create the industrial look desired.


A key challenge for this project was the timing of the exhibition. We had just ten weeks to produce plants of sufficient quality and quantity to be at their peak very late in the growing season. This was achieved by growing most of the plants from seed in the MIT greenhouses at Unitec; supported by the donation of large citrus and feijoa trees that added both height and maturity to the exhibit.

The plants were all edible and chosen for their colour, foliage and/or flowers. A broad selection of 20 varieties aimed to show that even citrus and corn can thrive in these confined urban spaces. Companion plants such as marigolds and nasturtiums were used for bright and contrasting colour. 

Anticipating that the plants would need to be frequently rotated during the festival due to the limited light within the silo, several hundred plants were grown. This allowed for under-performing plants to be replaced with stronger specimens – ailing plants were returned to the greenhouse to be revived. Once installed, the plants were rotated four times over ten days and generally coped well, despite the lack of light. 



At the end of the event attention turned to disposing and dismantling the installation in a thoughtful and sustainable manner. Metal was returned to the scrap yard, and bricks and blocks were reused as fill for a construction development. Timber framing was returned to the Unitec workshop for reuse and the plants were donated to local community gardens or composted. Just one rubbish bag went to landfill.