Community Garden

Guest Blogger: Kathy Finigan shares her thoughts on the role of community gardens

This week, the lovely Kathy Finigan from My Productive Backyard blog, has taken the time out to share her opinion and insight into the role of community gardens in upskilling and motivating their communities in food production. 

My Productive Backyard is a horticultural consultancy service dedicated to helping and inspiring people and organisations to learn, practice, and pass on the skills necessary to produce healthy, nutritious, organic food in a sustainable way.

In recent research conducted by the Australian Institute it estimated that 52% of Australian households participate in some form of food production and a further 13% would like to. However they also discovered that the turnover rate of people participating in home food production is high with most of the 52% only having been engage in home food production for less than 5 years.

In my experience with teaching community groups, it is often the lack of knowledge, which leads to disappointing results that then leads people to “give up” growing their own food.

Also most people need to have some form of external, ongoing motivation to keep them engaged. This may be as simple as a sms saying “great time to get your onions in this week” or a monthly workshop on what is happening in the garden this month.

The percentage of the population surveyed, not participating in food production cited lack of space and lack of time as the two main reasons for non-engagement. However the researcher indicated that from the statistics collected that this was a perceived perception rather than reality.

So how, as a community can we increase participation in food production and increase the amount of production per household.

I have just given a presentation at the Right to food coalitions conference on Putting food on the table, on a program I have developed called Share and Grow, which uses peer education and social media as a way to increase participation and production, but I can also see community gardens playing a vital role in achieving these goals.

With the demise of the local nursery I can see the local community garden becoming a centre of learning and motivation for local home food producers as well as supplying access to locally grown plants and other products, such as compost, which have been produced by the volunteers. This would make Community gardens self-sustaining which is necessary in they are to continue after government grants or local government support has ceased.

To give you an example of how I could see this working.

I recently presented a workshop on integrated pest control and part of the presentation was on attracting beneficial insects to your garden.

There were a number of people from a local community garden in attendance, and we got talking about the potential for community engagement and community garden sustainability and come up with a plan to run a short workshop on attracting beneficial insects to your garden.

The workshop would be advertised heavily in the local community, put on at a time when people are available, have a corresponding kid’s activity going at the same time and would supply morning tea to increase the social inclusion potential.

You would have to charge participants to cover the presenter’s costs (we were looking at $20.00 ahead).

We also looked at the potential of having, on sale, packages of insect attracting herbs and flowers, both plants and seeds, both produced by volunteers at the community garden.

Then engaging with local men’s shed to build attractive little insectaries which could also be sold on the day.

This gives the Community garden an income to develop and deliver further engagement type activities to ensure ongoing interest and enthusiasm in the community garden, but which would also flow onto home food production.

 

In order for a community garden to become the hub of the communities’ food production they must:

  • Encourage more people to become involved.
  • Have some method of ensuring there is a constant roll over of governance to avoid burn out waning of enthusiasm.
  • Be Welcoming of everyone.
  • Non-judgemental.
  • Tolerant of people’s different gardening philosophies, but with good governance guidelines for how things are down to reduce conflict.
  • Develop at range of communication strategies to inform everyone what is happening. This is so people don’t feel left out, ie notices, flyers, emails, SMS etc.
  • Have open days to encourage wider community to come and have a look at their local community garden.
  • Provide morning tea, lunch or afternoon tea to encourage social interactions and knowledge sharing.
  • Run weekly /monthly workshops that are of interest to the wider community, survey community to see what they want to learn.
  • Encourage local children to participate- research has proven that if children are interested in food production their parent will engage as well- run holiday workshops, always have child friendly activities on open days, have corresponding kids’ activities when holding adult activities. Always make the children feel welcome.

There is a need to develop the local community garden as the “One stop shop” for their local communities. Where people can come and participate in activities, learn and share knowledge, maintain motivation for food production, buy or swap seeds, buy plants, compost and other garden products.

With this model, community and home food production would become an accepted integral part of everyone’s lives.

You can visit My Productive Backyard on Facebook and Twitter also: 

https://www.facebook.com/MyProductiveBackyard

https://twitter.com/MPBYau

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GRAND OPENING THIS SATURDAY: Rose Bay Community Garden

Despite only beginning this year in July, the Rose Bay Community Garden has gained an enormous amount of traction and is ready only three months after to host its GRAND OPENING this Saturday 25th October!!!

The campaign has been following the work of the dedicated garden members for a couple of months now via their Facebook, and through the help of a few dedicated people they have finally reached their objectives of creating a beautiful garden for the local community of Rose Bay and surrounds to have fun, socialise, learn, and of course grow fresh fruit and veggies 🙂

This Saturday will be such an exciting time for the gardeners and for the entire community as their will a plethora of things to do such as: meet Costa from Gardening Australia, have a sausage sizzle, play games, visit many stalls, have a peek at the Community Garage Sale, and OF COURSE take a look at the community garden and get involved!

With SO many things to do, means a lot of help is needed from 9am onwards in the form of a few different jobs.

If you’re handy in any of these areas that the Rose Bay Community Garden Facebook page has listed, please either email them on info@rosebaycommunitygarden.org or rock up on the day and help out in the following areas:

We’ll need:
1. A photographer. Are you handy with a lens? Or a pro with your iphone? Please come take some photos for us! We want to be able to look back on this in a year’s time and say, “Wow! That was a fun party!”

2. A runner. Do you drive? We might need to get extra supplies on the day if hordes of people descend on us and we run out of snags or ice. We have no idea how many people to expect, so we may need someone to do a run to the shops.

3. People to help set it up. 9am start
4. People to help break it down. 5pm start

5. A number of stall helpers. There will be a cake stall, raffle station, seeds and seedling sale, t-shirts and cap stand, books stall, flower stall, garage sale, kids zone, barbecue, lemonade stall, that all need back up helpers. Let us know if you’re able to do a few hours.

6. A head counter. Just so we have an estimate of numbers of people.

Extra stuff:
7. Tables. If you have any trestle tables, please let us know. We may need one or two more.

8. If you’re baking a cake or cookies or a slice or whatever, please put a label on it, so people know what they’re getting.

Have a fantastic weekend!! 🙂

*Image: Courtesy of the Rose Bay Community Garden Facebook page 

Being green in the Eastern Suburbs with Jess Cheah

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Eastern Suburbs resident and inspiring sustainable sister, Jess Cheah, runs the social campaign The Green Flat which endeavours to provide healthy, easy alternatives to nasties without it being difficult or expensive. 

Jess and I have many interests in common in regard to being green and sustainable, so I thought I’d take the time out to interview her and give you all a little insight into the mind of an Eastern Suburbs resident and her thoughts on community gardens in the area.

What inspired you to start up ‘The Green Flat’?

I have always been interested in cooking, making my home feel like a home and beauty products… interests that have been with me for life. But when I moved out of home this year I started to notice just how many additives were in not only the food I was eating, but the products I put on my face and body, and the products I use to clean my home. Once I started to notice, it was really hard to stop. We are exposed to so many toxins without realizing, but the alternatives out there are fantastic and accessible.

Why do you believe that being green and sustainable is important?

We’ve only got one earth… If you ask me, it’s a pretty good one. I’d like to make sure we look after it so that we can keep enjoying it, because we’re the ones with the power to make a change- even if that change is switching to a different laundry powder. Every little bit from every person counts.

Do you grow much produce at home? If not, what are your reasons why.

Moving into an apartment from a University college, we are constrained on outside space. I don’t have access to a personal garden like I’d like, however we do have lots of potted herbs around the flat, which are functional as well as calming.

Are you aware of the community gardens in your area? And have you ever thought about joining your closest one?

We’ve got the Coogee Community Garden and the Randwick Community Organic Garden just down the street- both look fantastic. Brushing up on my gardening skills is definitely needed; I love the idea of growing your own fresh vegetables and while I don’t have much experience, I am definitely keen to get involved.

How does this statement make you feel…”There is a divide in the lack of understanding surrounding community gardens, their processes and food production, as well as a lack of enthusiasm and connection from urban dwellers within the Eastern Suburbs”?

I think that this is true, it is so easy to get caught up with work, social lives, and trying to balance everything that people forget to think about where such a basic necessity comes from and how important it is.
I also think that if kids aren’t involved from a young age, a lot of the emphasis on the importance of natural food production and the community is lost. It’s not all pessimism though, there is a real surge of people reconnecting with growing their own food, it’s much more fulfilling, and you know exactly what was used on it.

Do you think more initiative should be taken by the local councils in the Eastern Suburbs to encourage people to join their community gardens?

Definitely. People move home all the time and might not even realize there is a garden close to them or how to join. It’s a wonderful activity that makes us healthier people in body and mind, uniting communities and making sure we pay attention to what we are consuming.

If you were given a brief by the local council endeavoring to encourage more people to connect with their community garden, how would you go about doing this?

I think it would be a great activity for parents to involve their kids with, providing kids with a better knowledge of food processing, fostering community spirit and supplementing family diets. Talking to the local school communities would help to get families involved, also perhaps having seasonal guides or tips on the best way to garden or suggesting people sign up with friends- really getting information out to people via social media would increase the uplift.

 

To witness more of Jess’ wisdom, visit her social campaign blog at http://thegreenflat.wordpress.com/ or via Twitter @thegreenflat . Maybe you even want to follow her on all accounts (p.s. the campaign has a Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest also!) Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thegreenflat / Instagram: @thegreenflat / Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thegreenflat/

Conceptualising community in community gardens

Is it just me or is the significance of ‘community’ slowly diminishing in our society? I feel as though everywhere I turn people are no longer willing to help their next-door neighbour put up that fence in exchange for a few beers anymore…But maybe it’s just where I’m living – in urban Sydney.

I’m sure quite a few people would agree with me, however I’m quite sure some people would think I’m crazy! However Moseley (2003) put it best when saying that the term ‘community’ cannot simply be applied to any collection of people who happen to live close to one another; communities are socially constructed through people sharing and interacting with a common purpose.

People always say, “I’m part of the ____ community”, but really you’re not if you don’t contribute and connect to the vibrant network of people that surround you. Keeping your head down walking down the street, not talking to anyone in the area, and not participating or contributing to an organisation or activity is NOT generating social capital. THIS is why I’m campaigning for people in the Eastern Suburbs to join their community gardens!!! I see too many people each day doing exactly this!

Honestly, who doesn’t like fresh fruit and vegetables? And who couldn’t take a couple hours out of their day to tend to a garden plot and catch up with some really lovely people in the area. If you just took those two hours that you spend at home watching a TV series, and instead you turned them into two hours of gardening and helping out at the garden…

A) You’d have a GOOD set of guns for summer

B) You’d feel A LOT better about yourself after getting outside and talking to people (or just talking to your plants!)

Community gardens generate a huge amount of social capital in various different ways, and I’ll run through a few of them for you now:

  1. People from different backgrounds are brought together with a common interest…FOOD – whatever the age, ethnicity, religion…A girl’s gotta eat!
  2. You feel like you’ve contributed in a joint activity and done something with a common purpose – My first foray into Coogee Community Garden saw me shoveling wheelbarrows full of mulch and then placing it around member’s garden plots – doing something for yourself is good, but doing something for another person is exhilarating
  3. Gardens create a physical meeting place – they give a place for people to meet new people and interact/contribute. Hopefully you all know by now that meeting someone at a nightclub or bar at 2am probably doesn’t mean that they are going to be the love of your life – and MAYBE just maybe, you’ll meet a like-minded individual at a garden!

So yes, you may just meet someone that you actually bond with on some sort of level because community gardens create networks of individuals with a similar interest and help people engage in social activities and share their skills and knowledge about food production, preparation and consumption – which is pretty scarce these days!

Community Gardens in the Eastern Suburbs: Woollahra Municipal Council Area

This post is the final post in the three-part series of community gardens within the Eastern Suburbs. This finally brings us to the Woollahra Municipal Council area and the gardens that have been established within these vibrant suburbs.

Considering that this area contains many suburbs and lots of open green lots, there are currently only two community gardens located within the area:

– Rose Bay Community Garden

– Paddington Community Garden

ROSE BAY COMMUNITY GARDEN

Location

Woollahra Park near oval 2 (behind the Woollahra Colleagues building)

General Info about the garden from the Woollahra Council website 

The Rose Bay Community Garden was officially opened in July 2014, to provide a space to create a beautiful garden for the local community, where people can learn, socialise, have fun, and grow organic fruit and vegetables.

The site is fenced and includes individual allotments, a shelter and a shed.

How to get involved?

The garden is having a Grand Opening on Saturday 25th October at the garden and you can find out more about the garden and membership then.

Links and email for Rose Bay Community Garden:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RoseBayCommunityGarden

Email for more info: info@rosebaycommunitygarden.org

PADDINGTON COMMUNITY GARDEN

Location

Trumper Park. Located at the rear of the Palms Tennis Courts, adjacent to the Council Nursery, and access is from Quarry Street.

General Info about the the garden from the Woollahra Council website:

On 29 January 2008, Council resolved to establish a Community Garden at the Trumper Park location.

The site is fenced and includes individual allotments, a shelter, water tanks and seating.

The garden acts as a demonstration site for the community to utilise small sustainability measures in their own homes and gardens like water tanks. The site is also used by Council’s Waste department to conduct community workshops on composting, worm farming and no dig gardening.

How to get involved? AND Membership (Information from the Paddington Community Garden website) 

The garden members require you to copy and fill out an expression of interest form as there is a membership waiting list for space in the garden, this form must be filled out and hand delivered to the letterbox at the community garden – Quarry Street, Paddington.

The form can be found here.

When there is a vacancy you will be notified to come along to the garden to gain some skills, to meet and get to know other members. You will need to attend 2 working bees and 2 workshops on composting/worm farming and organic and no dig gardening.

At the workshop a member of the committee will give you a membership application form to complete. Your application will be reviewed by the committee at their next meeting.

Links for the Paddington Community Garden: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaddingtonCommunityGarden

Website: http://www.paddingtoncommunitygarden.org.au/

COMMUNITY GARDENS IN THE EASTERN SUBURBS: WAVERLEY COUNCIL AREA

Part Two of our “getting to know your garden” blog posts is all about the community gardens located within Waverley Council area.

There are currently three community gardens within the Waverley Council area:
– Waverley Community Garden
– Waverley Park Communal Garden
– 241 Bondi Road Community Garden

WAVERLEY COMMUNITY GARDEN

Location
Behind Clementson Park, corner Ebley Street and Newland St, Bondi Junction

General Info about the garden from the Waverley Council website

Established in 1999, the Garden was renewed by Council in 2007.
The Garden includes 26 ‘kitchen garden’ plots licensed out to individual gardeners, 2 double plots licensed out to community organisations and 2 plots in a children’s learning area.

The Garden also features an ‘edible native border’, composting facilities, a rain water tank, a pond, storage sheds and a shaded meeting space for public activities such as environmental education.

A licence to garden a plot will allow the individual or group to plant, tend and harvest annual (food) crops using organic gardening methods, access to a share of water, compost and mulch, and use of some shared gardening tools.

How to get involved?
The garden hosts a number of environmental workshops such as organic gardening, composting and worm farming and bush tucker.

Membership
Membership is open to Waverley residents over the age of 18.
The current annual fee is $55 and you can apply at any time.
Email Colleen at civicpride@waverley.nsw.gov.au to lease a garden plot or become a shared garden member.

Links for Waverley Community Garden
Website: http://www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/services/environment/parks_playgrounds_gardens/community_garden/waverley_community_garden
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WaverleyCommunityGarden/

WAVERLEY PARK COMMUNAL GARDEN

Location
St Mary’s Avenue, Waverley Park – view map

General Info about Waverley Park Communal Garden (Info from the WPCG Blog)
Bondi Junction’s local Sustainability Street Group in association with Waverley Council and Transition Bondi created the garden. The garden is a 20x2m strip for a verge garden, along the fence line of the Youth Centre in Waverley Park, behind the netball courts on the Birrell St side of the Park. It is a chemical-free garden.

How to get involved?
Join us for a garden catch up on the third Sunday of the month between 10:00 am and 12:00.

Following the working bee we split the harvest between the workers then usually have a cup of tea and small picnic under the paperbark trees nearby, so if you drop by please feel free to bring something to share.

Membership
Join the group Facebook for more membership information

Links to find out more about WPCG:
Wordpress: waverleyparkcommunalgarden.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/210214755666812/

241 BONDI ROAD COMMUNITY GARDEN

Location
241 Bondi Road, Bondi (near Boonara Ave)

General Info (Obtained from Transition Bondi website)
The garden was set up as an initiative of the Transition Bondi Group . The group have community gardens at the front and the rear of this block of units.

At Transition Bondi, we enjoy growing food for everyone to share. Our Community Gardens network consists of our Community Garden at 241 Bondi Road (Community Garden HQ) and the many Verge Gardens we have created in Bondi to date.

’241 Bondi Road Community Garden’ serves as our educational gardening head quarters. Features of the garden are an Aquaponics system, a honey bee hive, a native bee hive, worm farms, worm hotels, wicking beds, raised garden beds and a herb spiral. We also like to turn previously abandoned fence posts into garden beds where we grow our organic fruit, herbs & veggies.

How to get involved?
They have Digs and Workshops. “Digs” every second Sunday of the month (except Dec 2013 and Jan 2014) – 10-12 noon. Workshops can be viewed here.

Membership
For information on membership and lending a hand, email: info@transitionbondi.org

Links to find out more about 241 Bondi Road and Transition Bondi:
Transition Bondi Community Garden page: http://transitionbondi.org/bondi-farm/
Transition Bondi Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TransitionBondi

Next week will be Part Three of the community garden information and will feature Woollahra Council’s community gardens.

Community Gardens in the Eastern Suburbs: Randwick City Council area

Are you interested in finding your green thumb? Are you wanting to grow your own food but have no backyard? Have you walked past community gardens and wanted to join but didn’t know how?

This post is for YOU! This post is the first of three posts which will be dedicated to identifying all of the thriving community gardens specifically within the three local councils of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs: Randwick City Council, Waverley Council and Woollahra Municipal Council.

The post has been created in order to make it easy for people to see all of the community gardens that exist within the Eastern Suburbs, and to have a look at their group pages and websites.

Randwick City Council – Community gardens

Randwick Community Organic Garden

Location
The Northern end of Paine Reserve on the corner of Rainbow and Botany Streets, Randwick (187-203 Botany Street)

General Information about the garden from the RCOG website
RCOG is a community of gardeners interested in working towards a sustainable future by growing fresh organic produce and plants, learning about organic gardening and permaculture techniques, sharing skills and knowledge with the local community and cultivating the health of soil, plants, wildlife, people and community. We don’t use pesticides or herbicides, we create our own composts and collect our own rainwater. We share the fruits and vegetables of the communal gardens and tend our own plots.
Our present motto is: ‘He who plants a garden, plants happiness’.

How to get involved?
The garden holds its monthly working bee every third Sunday of the month (10 am in winter and 9 am in the daylight saving months) Everyone is welcome to come and lend a hand!
Free Monthly educational workshops are also available for members, and non-members are also welcome for a small donation!

Membership
2014 annual membership fees are $55 for an individual ($30 pensioner/student) $80 for a household membership ($60 pensioner/student). For all membership information click here.

Links to find out more about RCOG:
Email: randwickcommunityorganicgarden@gmail.com
Website: http://www.rcog.org.au/
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/128944703851767/

Coogee Community Garden

Location
Behind the scout hall on Dolphin Street

General Information about the garden from the Randwick Council website
A group of people living in Coogee who love the smell of home grown tomatoes. We want to establish a garden in Coogee so we can grow vegetables and nurture community. Over the past few years, a small but dedicated crew have maintained the enthusiasm and the dream of a community garden. And, now it is a reality!

How to get involved?
Gatherings are held on the first Saturday and third Sunday of every month

Membership
Membership of Coogee Community Garden (CCG) is open to adults of 18 years and above, although children and young adults can attend the garden with their parents and guardians.

There are two kinds of active members at the CCG.
** Garden Lovers — those who participate in activities of the garden, such as using the community garden areas, but do not have a plot
**Garden Growers (Plot members) — those who have been allocated plots.
(For more information on membership, click here.

Links to find out more about CCG:
Email: coogeecommunitygarden@gmail.com
Website: http://coogeegarden.wordpress.com/ (no recent posts though)
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/290920733307/