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Jo Szczepanska

An award-winning design proves a sustainable success for one Monash graduate.

Jo Szczepanska


January 14th, 2010

Urban living inherently isolates us from agricultural practices, but Jo Szczepanska has prototyped a solution to shorten the distance between field and plate.

A first prize award for a water saving design at the INDEX Aspen Design Challenge – the global student competition held in Copenhagen – sent the Monash University graduate globetrotting with mentors to brainstorm her award-winning design ‘VeggiePatch’.

Delivering a sustainable solution to inner city dwelling, the ’VeggiePatch’ is an eco-friendly landscape design made using post-consumer and industrial waste such as ceramic coated cardboard, banana paper and tyre crumb.

The portable patch can be positioned in even the most modest urban outdoor settings, with a downloadable plan for easy construction – the base patch can be bought by the metre then the size and contours can be selected to suit your space.

An effective irrigation system ensures that there is minimal water waste and watering a ‘VeggiePatch’ uses just 12 litres of water, which is equivalent to a toilet flush.

A metre-long ‘VeggiePatch’ would have fifteen cultivation pockets within which you would plant one of the ‘SeedDisks’ – a specialised packaging made from recycled paper pulp and soy-based dyes, which provide nutrients for the seedlings.

“Before the competition I wasn’t really a person who put a lot of value on pitching ideas and selling the ’dream’.

“For me it was mostly about function, if something worked, and how well it worked. But in Aspen I found that if you had a genuine story and it was personal it added more to a presentation than a slide of dry numbers on a PowerPoint. So if you have one, I’d say give it a shot.”

Jo is currently studying a Masters in ‘Man and Humanity’ at the Eindhoven Design Academy – a sustainable and humanitarian design course.


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