Monday, July 1, 2013

Mushroom Farm Park - greening urban areas

Johannesburg boasts that it's the world's largest man-made urban forest and that's difficult to imagine until one actually visits the city and see how many open spaces, parks and nature reserves there are.  One of these parks is Mushroom Farm Park in Sandton.  I've passed here a couple of times before but visited for the first time on my last visit to the City of Gold. 

Sandton started out in the 1930's as farms and estates and only transform from a farming community to a business district in 1973 when Sandton City was built.  In the 1990's it became part of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality at the time when there was quite a boom in development which seemingly hasn't stopped yet.  I haven't found any history on why the area is called Mushroom Farm, but in 2006 during the construction of the Gautrain a shaft was sunk here to access the underground tunnelling operations. 

After the completion of the Gautrain development, rehabilitation of the area started by representatives of the developers.  The terrain has been landscaped, new pathways have been laid, a children's play area created, irrigation and pathway lighting installed, topsoil introduced, the waterways have been cleared and new indigenous flora was plated.  Most of this have now been well established and the park is looking stunning.  On my visit the park was being utilised by both families and business people taking a break away from the hustle and bustle of their offices.  I imagine there will be a couple more people using the park late afternoons after the end of business as well as on weekend, specially those living in apartments in the area.

There is an aerial balloon in the park in which visitors can go up to 120 meter for a lovely view of surrounding Sandton and Johannesburg in the distance.  The Mushroom Farm Park is a prime example of what can be done in urban areas by municipalities in partnership with the private sector when there is a will to do so.

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