Russ Grayson, media liaison firstname.lastname@example.org http://.communitygarden.org.au M: 0414 065 203 20 January 2010
Proposals — City of Sydney draft community gardens policy The Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network, NSW team, congratulates the City of Sydney on its progressive and proactive approach to the increasing demand for community gardening space by undertaking the development of a policy on community gardening. This brings the City into alignment with other Sydney local governments that have adopted community gardening policies or plan to do so in the near future. Together, these local government bodies assume a national leadership role in community garden development. The proposal to include the opportunity for community gardening in the City's Local Environment Plan as an exempt development is particularly welcomed.
Proposals regarding the draft community gardens policy Section: Different types of community gardens —- page 4 This section describes street verge plantings, school gardens and community gardens. The Network believes that these are associated but separate categories of gardens. The approach of the City would presumably differ towards the three types of gardens. Ideally, a separate policy or approaches and criteria to assist each of these types would be appropriate as the policies would address the pecularities and different need, design and management criteria of these types. Proposal The Network proposes that community gardens, school educational gardens and street verge gardens be treated as separate entities in the City of Sydney community garden policy and not be lumped together. A policy that combines criteria for the three distinct types under the appellation of 'community garden' risks perpetuating confusion over the term ‘community garden’ and of applying policy recommendations that are not relevant to or effective in all of the types of gardens. Due to the way that they have evolved in Australia and because of differing site, design and participation criteria, the three types of garden deserve their own policy and guidelines or approach by the City. Guidelines for developing the three types of garden, in separate chapters so as to properly recognise the differences between them and the consequent design and management criteria, could be included in the community garden policy. Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network submission
Definition – an explanatory note Community gardens These are primarily areas provided for food production, education and community-building on public open space or on land owned or administered by organisations other than local government. Community gardens can be considered to consist of two types: •
public gardens, in which the general public is free to participate
non-public or special purpose community gardens in which there are particular qualifications for participation, such as residence in public housing or membership of an institution, such as school teaching staff, students and their parents.
Local government sometimes assists community gardens on public housing estates, however the primary source of assistance for such gardens comes through the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust's Community Greening program. Gardens in schools and on public housing estates are generally not open to participation by the general public. A small number of schools, however, have made use of part of their land available to the public for authentic, public community gardens. The school may also make use of the community garden. Most gardens on education department and private school land are for the use of people associated with the school.
Section: Different types of community gardens – page 4 1. Community gardens Community gardens are often established on public open space with a small number in school and church grounds and others on public housing or other state government land. There are a number of different models of community gardens. A description of the most common forms in Australia follows. a) Self-managed community gardens These may be established with initial assistance from local government. The gardeners assume responsibility for management of the garden, including decision making, either: •
from the start of the garden
or assume an increasing management role over time as they develop the capacity to do so.
Self-managed community gardens are probably the most common type. They imply less of a hands-on role for local government, although it is common for council and gardeners to maintain a close liaison. They consume less council staff time and energy. The self-managed model offers the best opportunity for the development of social capital (including the skills of decision making, problem solving and management) among the community gardeners. Commonly, community gardens of this type feature both shared gardening areas and allotments allocated to families, individuals or groups of friends. Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network submission
b) Council managed community gardens There are few of these in Australia. In this model, council retains responsibility for management of the community garden and for decision making. Community gardens of this type are developed as allotment gardens. This model offers limited opportunity for the development of gardener management skills. c) Council volunteer community gardens In this model, community gardeners become council volunteers similar to Bushcare volunteers. There are few community gardens of this type in Australia. The potential for developing gardener decision making and management depends on the attitude of council staff. The model suits some gardeners, however a limitation is that council staff must be present when gardening takes place. This does not always coincide with times of availability of gardeners, which can include summer evenings during daylight saving time, weekend days and public holidays. d) Community gardens on social housing land Participation in community gardens of this type is restricted to residents of the social housing estate. The model is a successful one and is found in NSW and Victoria. Because the gardens are not open to the general public, they can be classified as a 'special use' type of community garden. Proposal It is common practice within community gardening circles to refer to all of these models as 'community gardens'. The Network proposes that the City of Sydney community garden policy adopts the same appellation for purposes of common terminology and clarity. The Network proposes that the City of Sydney’s policy includes a breakdown of its approach to community gardens on both council land and land owned by other entities.
2. School gardens These gardens are often classified as ‘edible classrooms’, ‘outdoor classrooms’ or 'school kitchen gardens' (especially where the food grown, cooked and eaten by students, or where it goes to the school canteen) or some similar description within the community gardening movement. Often, the gardens have some educational function in relation to the school curriculum. Local government sometimes provides support to these school gardens. School gardens in which the predominant plant types are food, have unique criteria for: •
linking the garden to the school curricula, which may imply the inclusion of particular design features
Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network submission
the avoidance of plant species that are injurious or toxic to children but that may be found in some community gardens open to the general public
design that facilitates easy surveillance of children in the garden by teachers and parents but that may not be relevant to community gardens open to the public.
Feedback to the Network is that applying the term 'community garden' to these school gardens can be confusing because the gardens are not open to the general public. Proposal The Network proposes that the City of Sydney community garden policy: •
adopts the term 'school kitchen garden' for purposes of common terminology and clarity
adopts separate and specific criteria for supporting school gardens and treats them differently to community gardens.
3. Street verge gardens These are small gardens established on street verges. They may be used to grow ornamental, native and food plants or a combination of these. Small fruit trees are sometime included in the plantings. The growing of food on street verges is a practice dating back at least 20 years in Sydney and it is currently growing in popularity. Generally, such plantings are termed 'street verge plantings' by those involved or interested in the practice. The term 'community garden' is not commonly applied to them. For the most part, verge plantings are the initiative of adjacent residents and are considered to be an extension of their home garden. Conversation with people making these gardens suggests that this is a commonly-held perception although many are willing to share what they grow on street verges with passers-by and neighbours. Few street verge plantings are authentic community gardens built, maintained and cropped by a community. Two examples of verge garden as a type of community garden are the Myrtle Street, Chippendale (City of Sydney LGA) verge plantings and those in Port Kembla. However, even these initiatives are commonly known as verge plantings. Were a street or adjacent neighbours to agree to garden the verge cooperatively, then it might be termed a community garden. 'Community verge garden' may be a more accurate term that would serve to distinguish them from the common type of community garden established on public open space. Street verge gardens have unique design and management criteria dictated by their location and site conditions for: •
access to and from vehicles parked adjacent to them
for wheelchair access between vehicle and footpath
for the types of trees and other vegetation appropriate to sites of limited space
Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network submission
access for waste and recycling bins on collection days
maintaining site lines for traffic and pedestrian movement particularly around corners
the future of the verge gardens after those managing them move residence.
Ideas on design and policy considerations for street verge gardens can be found at http://pacific-edge.info/farming-the-urban-footpath/ Proposal The Network proposes that City of Sydney: 1. develop a set of guidelines for verge plantings that address design and management considerations 2. treats verge plantings as a separate category of community planting initiative to community gardens on public open space, state government public housing estates, church or other land.
Section: The city's role — advice and materials - page 6 Proposal: The City of Sydney develop a model community garden management plan and conflict resolution process. These would be suitable for adoption by community gardeners, however there would be no obligation for gardeners to accept them. This would allow alternative plans and procedures, that would be equally effective, to be adopted.
Section: Community management of Gardens — conflict resolution and complaints procedure - page 7 Proposal: The management plan developed by community gardeners include a gardeners' agreement. The agreement would include: •
expectations about the behaviour and conduct of gardeners on site
access to and management of shared garden areas and allotments.
New gardeners would sign the gardeners' agreement, signifying their intended compliance with the conditions described. The agreement would include the process of conflict resolution that members agree to follow.
Section: Insurance and risk management - page 8 Proposal: Additional to the second point, include that an incorporated community garden group consider sourcing public liability insurance by joining Landcare Australia and participating in their group insurance scheme. This will provide a discounted rate for buying public liability insurance.
Section: Incorporation of the garden group - page 8 Proposal: Include a final sentence to the effect that being incorporated and having a management committee shares the tasks of garden management and avoids excessive responsibility being placed on a few, or the garden management becoming dominated by a single person. Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network submission
Section: City of Sydney use of the garden as a demonstration site - page 8 Proposal: Appended to the statement about outdoor learning spaces in paragraph one of the section, add outdoor learning spaces/performance spaces/meeting space. This includes the opportunity for celebration and cultural activities, including arts and performance activities to be included in the community garden as part of the demonstration of sustainable living.
Section: Supporting other local food production initiatives page 10 Proposal: Excerpt this section from the community garden policy and include it in a City of Sydney food security policy. Restate the material in the introduction on page 4 in the form of a statement about community gardens being part of a strategy to develop sources of local food in the LGA.
Section: Appendix-3 â€” procedure for starting a new community garden - page 13 Proposal: Remove diagram and place to follow 'Site selection criteria' on page 9. The diagram would clarify text, as a visual representation, on page 9.
Russ Grayson Media Liaison ACFCGN
Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network submission