[Picture: The Source Crew see page 19] | www.communitygarden.org.au
COMMUNITY HARVEST... Community Harvest is the journal of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network. The journal reports on developments in community gardens and city farms, community food systems and associated topics. It is published irregularly and welcomes contributions. We advise readers to think carefully about trying anything in Community Harvest as the publishers cannot be held responsible for the consequences.
The Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network is an educational and advocacy organisation focused on bringing food production back to town and city. The Network recognises that community gardens and city farms are part of a broader community food movement and that they have a valid part to play in the planning of our towns and cities. We believe that community food initiatives such as community gardens make our towns and cities more enjoyable, humane, innovative and resilient places to live and contribute to cities as places of opportunity.
Community Harvest Editor: Russ Grayson Designer: Fiona Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
A new vision for our cities
Two themes dominate this edition of COMMUNITY HARVEST— the journal of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network. The first is October’s community gardening conference in Canberra, an event that attracted practitioners, local government, planners and researchers. If anything, the conference marked a new recognition of the values brought by community gardening and its associated community food systems such as food co-ops and community supported agriculture. The second theme occupies the bulk of this edition of Community Harvest. It is stories of community gardens and community food systems, many new, others that have been with us for awhile. These stories indicate that the practice of community gardening is now well established in our towns and cities. They are examples of how geographic communities are becoming food communities and stamping their own form of community enterprise on our cities. As you read the inspiring stories that follow, you might realise something. It is this: Taken together, stories like Faith Thomas’ social enterprise project, the story of Cringila public school’s young gardener-students and all of the rest, paint a new vision for our cities and towns. Add to this the surge of activity following the federal agriculture minister’s announcement of a national food policy just before the federal election this year which triggered the unleashing of something new on the Australian social landscape — the emergence of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (http:// foodsovereigntyalliance.org/). What you see are people wanting to take some control over their own food supply. All of this builds on the two successful food conferences of the past 12 months — Adelaide’s Plains To Plate Food Convergence (http://futureoffoodsa.ning.com/) and Sydney Food Fairness Alliance’s Food Summit — Hungry for Change (http:// sydneyfoodfairness.org.au/). There was another conference of note, too, and it happened in Tasmania in March. That was the annual conference of the Tasmanian Community Gardens Network, and what a great conference it was. Tasmania is home to so much that is creative in the world. What does all of this activity mean? It suggests that food issues are now on the national agenda and that the aim of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network to have community gardens seen by government and planners as a valid urban landuse has been achieved. Congratulations to everyone in the states and regions for making that happen. Milestone passed. It means that we are articulating a new vision for our cities that includes how we feed ourselves. … RUSS GRAYSON, Media Liaison, contact email@example.com
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Canberra conference a
for community gardening IS IT A TIPPING POINT for the community gardening movement? As the conference drew to a close, there were comments that it might be so. But if nothing else, the two days of the October 2010 conference on community gardening at the University of Canberra signified that the practice of community gardening is well and truly legitimised as a landuse in Australia’s cities. Who would take the trouble to travel to the nation’s capital just to talk community gardening? Local government officers, planners, researchers and academics and practitioners of community gardening, that’s who. It was quite an organisational mélange, those that attended, and they came from Perth, Adelaide, Tasmania, Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney and, of course, the ACT. Their numbers filled the hall.
Call for larger role The event attracted some significant visitors. Greens senator, Christine Milne, called for the community gardening movement to find a role in addressing the big issues of the day, like climate change. “Place community gardening in the big picture”, she exhorted the audience. “And do this by growing food locally. “Politically, community gardeners are seen as wholesome, nice people not related to public policy and planning. But they have much to do with energy security, medium density development and peak oil, and they address social isolation with migrants. They offer the
Some of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network crew: (from left back row) Kate Hubmayer, Adelaide; claire nettle, Adelaide; Anne Goodall, Perth; Jennifer Alden, Melbourne; Hannah Moloney, Tasmania. (from left, front): Fiona Campbell, Sydney; Russ Grayson, Sydney; Costa Georgiadis, Sydney.
opportunity to reconnect to place, to food, to ourselves. “School kitchen gardens are an opportunity to deal with behavioural difficulties. “Join, not debate, urban planning”, she urged. “No more urban spread… more liveable cities. Put community gardening in the bigger picture.” For visiting UK CEO of Capital Growth—the plan to create 2012 new community growing spaces in London in time for the 2012 Olympics1 and office holder with Garden Organic2— Myles Bremner, “food is political.” Myles, a quietly spoken, neatly dressed and authoritative-sounding man suggested the community garden movement in Australia would do well to start compiling facts and figures on 1 http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/ nov/04/boris-london 2 http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk
the practice. Why? To use to “ …become relevant to policy matters and to link to issues such as social inclusion, climate change and so on.” Like Christine Milne, Myles sees our addressing social and other trends and engaging in advocacy to further establish the role of the gardens in our cities as important to the relevance and future of the movement.
… social media makes localisation possible … He believes that links with local government can be worthwhile. “Cities lead on agendas more than state government… there’s more diversity of representation at the local government level and more community-minded people focused on issues. Engagement here can put community gardening in the big picture.”
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(Above): Some of the crowd at the two-day University of Canberra conference on community gardening.
Myles urged the community garden and associated food movements to use social media to expand the reach of their influence and to connect the movement. “New media makes localisation possible”, he said.
Inner urban challenges Marrickville Council’s Sustainability Coordinator, Lucy Sharman, said that there are a range of issues affecting community gardening in her part of Sydney. These include a lack of open space suitable for community gardening. In Sydney’s Inner West, Marrickville has limited potential to host new community gardens, something it shares with neighbouring inner suburbs. Available spaces are small and there is competition for access to them—community garden
development has to be seen in this context. Soil contamination is another issue exemplified by the experience of a proposed community garden. The garden crew had spent time and effort to develop a plan of management, however when the site was tested it was found to carry a heavy load of lead in the soil. It is for this reason that some inner urban councils prefer the construction of raised garden beds to lift the vegetable root zone above the soil level and above any contamination. Lucy said that there are also social equity challenges—how do you make available open space for community gardening for socially disadvantaged people? How do you press for local food production? It is important that councils have a political commitment to community
(Left): Community food systems researcher and South Australia contact for the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network, claire nettle, shows the Growing Community manual (which she wrote) on starting community gardens to SBS telegardener, Costa Georgiadis. Costa made a presentation and attended the conference. He also attended the Tasmanian Community Gardens Network annual conference in April 2010.
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gardens, she said, recognising that community creativity is generally well ahead of council thinking. Despite this, people still need help with governance in community gardens, Lucy explained. Driving the increasing demand for community gardening opportunities in Marrickville, she said, is demographic change towards better educated citizens who are interested in food growing in public places rather than in home gardens. Gardening skills are often missing.
… claire warns against judging community gardens solely on food production. Gardens also have a social focus …
Barriers and stigma Ashley Hunter, a Melbourne student researching urban agriculture, took up Lucy’s theme of barriers to community gardening, citing among them access to land, tenure, funding and support. She has found that a stigma is becoming attached to community gardening around the perception that the practice is for people with low socioeconomic background. This is a NIMBY reaction, she said. Nutrition and developing social capital are among community gardening’s benefits, however different gardens bring different objectives and the benefits are not universal. Complex plantings and nutrient flows through the gardens are among ecological benefits brought by community gardens.
and gaining access to the plants they are used to can sustain their nutritional health. Community gardens may be able to develop a role in doing this. Claire warns against judging community gardens solely on food production. Gardens also have a social focus and they are quite variable in their productivity.
… people still need help with governance in community gardens …
Community education was a benefit also identified by Bethany Turner, a University of Canberra academic engaged in international studies and Beth Mitchell, Sustainability Planner at the University. For them, community gardens are opportunities to embed sustainability practices, promote a longer term commitment to sustainability, overcome the nature/ culture divide and to address our disconnection from the food system. Urban planner, Neil Savery, who works with the ACT Planning and Land Authority, said that food production exists alongside other
Link with policy to gain funding For Adelaide researcher and South Australia contact for the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network, claire nettle, community gardens are one component of a broader system of community food initiatives. This includes allotments, edible landscaping, kitchen gardens in schools, edible street verges, the establishment of fruit trees on the street as at the Glandore Community Centre in suburban Adelaide where the footpath is lined with citrus for part of its length and produce exchanges— the food swaps that are appearing in increasing numbers around the country.
O’Connor (above) and Cook (below) were two community gardens visited after the community gardening conference at the University of Canberra. Many Canberra community gardens are managed by the Canberra Organic Growers Society.
To gain core funding, she suggests community gardeners link with relevant policies of state and local government. Among the benefits, for claire, are growing some of your own food needs, information sharing and community education that leads to an improved knowledge of food and access to culturally preferred food for those needing it. Migrants can find the Australian diet difficult to understand
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urban requirements. This was a point made by Australian urban planning educator, Peter Newman, in a critical response in his book, Resilient Cities3, to permaculture ideas about the ‘ruralised’ city given largely to food production. He asked whether planners have the right zoning and permissible uses in the right places when it comes to urban sustainability. Community gardens can improve public housing and community gardeners are among the people active in their cities.
Organic an elite food? Picking up on the urban food theme, David Pearson from the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra said that organic food is perceived as an expensive, elite food. This is an assertion that has followed the growth of the Australian organics
industry and one that resurfaced at the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance’s4 When Food Systems Collide seminar in Sydney on 13 October. Community workers are among those that sometimes make this claim, however for David community gardens bring the benefit of increasing food security through local production and building social equity and social capital. David finished by saying that local food initiatives, which include community gardening, community supported agriculture and other enterprises connect producers and consumers and sustain a local economics based on food.
… community gardeners are among the people active in their cities … Community gardeners are a geographic community of interest, he told the audience. He recommended that they build links between community groups and support networks. ...Russ Grayson
3 Newman P; Resilient Cities; 2009, Island Press, USA.
Myles Bremner from Capital Growth UK
Myles Bremner’s six proposals... …for community gardeners It was up to Myles Bremner to wind up the conference with six points, six recommendations, for the community gardening movement: 1. Be clear what community gardening is and who its constituents are. 2. Get credible facts and figures, such as the number of community gardens and community gardeners. This is important for advocacy. 3. Develop and deliver a compelling narrative about community gardening. 4. Find spokespeople to deliver this compelling narrative, such as a crazy gardener (said while looking towards SBS telegardener Costa Georgiadis, who attended the conference) and back up this person with a’ suit’. 5. Be proactive. Show off. Invite councils, the media, MPs to events. 6. Assert your food citizenship.
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Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network
Annual General Meeting 2010 Looking down a new road… FOLLOWING the two-day community gardening conference at the University of Canberra in October, the core team of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network met at a community centre kindly made available through the assistance of the Network’s ACT contact and president of Canberra Organic Growers Society, Keith Colls. In some ways the meeting was like looking down the road ahead to find opportunities. The SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) technique from the Appreciative Inquiry process was used to identify what has worked well so as the Network could built on it.
Stronger advocacy role needed Myles Bremner, trustee of Sustain who is leading the Capital Growth program in London and who attended the community garden conference at the University of Canberra, came by to meet people from the national community gardens network. Myles again stressed the need for the Network to adopt a larger advocacy role than it presently has and to develop a short summary on community gardening to present to politicians like Senator Christine Milne, who has addressed the community gardening conference. This could result in assistance, said Myles. He again stressed the need to compile factual data on community gardening to use in advocacy.
Think about collective action
Myles was accompanied by the University of Coventrey’s Phil Harris, who had spoken at the conference contrasting the use of waste in urban agriculture in developing and developed countries.
Ben Neil thanked Canberra Organic Growers Society for providing a venue for the AGM, and for organizing the inspiring conference that brought us to Canberra.
He asked the meeting to think about what big changes the Network could attain through collective action that gardens cannot gain individually, and to ask themselves what politicians could do to help. For Myles and Phil, both of whom are experienced in the dynamics of local food groups and advocacy, the time has come for Australian community gardeners to engage with the political process. At the conference, Christine Milne had proposed that the community garden network and community garden groups in general work out how they could address the big issues of the day, such as climate change. The message from Myles and Phil is that the time for this has come.
He acknowledged the support of Cultivating Community, the Melbourne-based agency acting as the Network’s state contact and supporting community gardens and food systems for public housing tenants under contract to the Victorian Government. An item of expenditure since the last AGM was for website hosting which had to be upgraded to maximum bandwidth because of the increased rate of traffic visiting the Network’s website.
… what big changes could the Network attain through collective action that gardens and individuals cannot gain individually?…
Sorting ideas during the SOAR process.
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Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network annual general meeting 2010, Canberra. Some interstate people attended via skype videolink.
Ben acknowledged the breadth of community gardening work being carried out on behalf of the Network at the local level.
South Australia report Kate Hubmayer reported the SA Community and School Garden Network’s twice yearly gatherings, publication of a SA newsletter, participation in expos and fairs, launch of Growing Community booklet, and partnership in From Plains to Plate: The Future of Food in SA conference, including organizing a bus tour to community gardens. South Australia now has a funded community garden project officer within the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
Tasmania report Hannah Maloney reported the development of a Tasmania-focused community gardening manual and DVD, a successful state network gathering in March this year and community gardens being placed on the agenda of food security and climate change boards.
New South Wales report
Jennifer Alden (CEO of Cultivating Community) reported receiving numerous inquiries about community gardens. Cultivating Community acts as a state network in Victoria.
Russ Grayson reported on presentations given in Sydney, including a keynote at the Parliament of World Religions.
Western Australia report Anne Goodall reported that the Growing Communities WA project has finished. The resources produced include a website1 and three publications: mm Funding Your Community Garden mm Community Gardening Success Factors: the nine Ps of growing vibrant and viable community gardens mm Growing Education: Community gardens building effective partnerships with education providers. These are available from the Growing Communities website. Ben thanked WA community gardeners for their contribution to the network, and for including ACFCGN in their local work. 1 www.communitygardenswa.org.au
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The ACFCGN had input into the City of Sydney’s Community Gardens Policy. Russ has produced a plan of management tool that can be used in the development of submissions to councils. He tabled a log of contacts over the past 12 months from media, local government and community, deriving from his media liaison role for the Network. This included comments on how community gardeners and local government was finding very useful the Network’s fact and educational sheets. These are issued under a Creative Commons Australia 3.0 licence so that people can download, print and distribute them. ...Russ Grayson
Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network
Annual General Meeting 2010 Attendees... IN ATTENDANCE were Network representatives and other participants: mm Jennifer Alden, (Victoria, CEO of Cultivating Community which provides community garden and food system services to social housing residents for the state government)
New core team... Elected to the executive core team of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network are: mm President—Fiona Campbell (NSW) mm Vice-President—Jane Mowbray (NSW)
mm Keith Colls (ACT, president of Canberra Organic Growers Society that manages community gardens in the ACT)
mm Treasurer—John Brisbin (Qld)
mm claire nettle (South Australia, university researcher into community food systems)
mm Media liaison—Russ Grayson (NSW)
mm Secretary—John McBain (WA) mm Public officer—Jennifer Alden (Victoria)
mm Caro Macarthur (South Australia, university lecturer and local government community worker)
Why turn when you can let the worms do the work for you… You mightn’t find smelly fish waste in your compost, but you might want to try Ann Fenton’s trench composting… I’m a member of Marrickville West Community Garden and want to recommend trenching of fruit and vegie scraps as opposed to using compost bins. It’s a lot less work in the long run as you can rotate trenched beds or trenches in a bed and don’t need to turn or aerate the compost, or run the risk of having unsuitable waste added to the compost (in one of our bins we found smelly fish waste which was pretty disgusting to remove). You just:
mm Jane Collier (ACT, planning consultant)
1. Dig a trench (or wide hole) about 30-50 cms deep in the soil.
mm Jeanette de Haas (Western Australia)
2. Throw in your scraps. 3. Cover with more soil.
mm Fiona Campbell (NSW, local government sustainability educator) mm Hannah Maloney (Tasmania; temporarily working with Cultivating Community in Melbourne) mm Anne Goodall (Western Australia, community development consultant who ran the Growing Communities project) mm Adrienne Fazekas (Canberra Organic Growers Society) mm Russ Grayson (NSW, coordinator of community garden and volunteer projects, City of Sydney).
4. Water it every now and then. 5. The worms will do the work for you. Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network, Kate Hubmayer chatting with SBS telegardener, Costa Georgiadis.
Ordinary members elected to executive: mm Kate Hubmayer (South Australia)
6. You can throw in blood and bone or such if you want to and in a few months the soil is enriched and ready for some vegie planting.
mm Nel Smit (Tasmania) mm Carolyn Macarthur (South Australia) mm Keith Colls (ACT; Canberra Organic Growers Society) mm Jana Norman (NT)
mm Attending via skype video link were:
mm Morag Gamble (Queensland)
mm John Brisbane (Queensland, creator of Australian Community Foods website)
mm claire nettle (South Australia).
mm Hannah Moloney (Tasmania)
mm Jane Mowbray (Sydney, Glovers Community Garden) mm John McBain (Western Australia).
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wins Heart Health award MEDIA RELEASE Kempsey Shire Council KEMPSEY FAMILY Community Centre’s Community Garden Project has won the Local Government Heart Foundation Award for ‘programs that improve heart health in priority groups’. The hard work from employees and volunteers at the Centre was rewarded during Local Government Week at a ceremony in Sydney. As well as providing an opportunity to learn about healthy eating options the garden encourages people to engage in passive exercise and occasional visits to the centre for basic health checks. Mavis Symonds from Kempsey Shire Council and Margo Johnston representing North Coast Area Health Service travelled to Sydney to accept the award during Local Government Week celebrations.
Jo McGoldrick, Manager Community Relations at Kempsey Shire Council said ‘the award has recognised the clear benefits the garden has to the community and long term sustainability of the project’.
Garden to kitchen Volunteers and program participants maintain the gardens and are currently planting spring vegetables which will be used to prepare healthy meals in the Centre’s outdoor kitchen. A seed propagation area is already underway. This project encourages community members to take seedlings and seeds home to establish their own home vegetable garden.
The benefit of partnerships The Kempsey Family Community Centre has developed the garden with partnerships including Housing NSW, Kempsey Shire Council, Mid North Coast Regional Council for Social Development, Durri Aboriginal Medical Service, Booroongen Djugen Aboriginal Training College and North Coast Area Health Service.
Seed propagation workshop The Kempsey Family Community Centre held a seed propagation workshop in early October. Phil Pettit presented to community members interested in learning how to propagate seeds. Phil is the coordinator of the Community Greening program, a partnership between Housing NSW and the Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney. For more information or to register your interest, please phone the Kempsey Family Community Centre on 02 6562 1911.
For comment: Kathy Oliver, Director Community Engagement, Kempsey Shire Council 02 6566 3200. Issued: 30 August.
Kempsey community gardeners are now award winners.
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Faith links city farming & social enterprise In Brisbane, Faith Thomas is taking Northey Street City Farm City Farm into new territory with her social enterprise project...
VILLAGE LIFE, an exciting new social enterprise development project, is off to a great start at Northey Street City Farm. The project is being implemented as part of the long-running Sunday markets with support from Brisbane City Council. Village Life centres around a colourful and vibrant cultural marketplace that provides a space for artisans, craftspeople, healers, visual and performing artists and other creative folk to sell their wares. As a result, our community now has better access to locally hand-made clothes, massage and other healing services, second-hand clothes, beeswax candles, biodynamic herbal skincare and locally made, non-toxic hair care products.
Social enterprise — community benefit Social enterprises are an intrinsic part of a healthy and sustainable local economy. By definition, they are noy-for-profitmaking ventures that are designed to benefit the local community both through their activities and the investment of their profits.
Supporting small enterprise Village Life is working closely with twelve small enterprises providing resources, support and training to help them become sustainable in the long term. Apart from the bustling Sunday gatherings, the project has also run two successful workshops on small enterprise management that have resulted in ethical guidelines for the
project. These guidelines establish the marketplace as a place for locally made and environmentally sustainable products and services. In the coming months we will be developing a transition model to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project once the funding ends, as well as working to create a guide for other community gardens who wish to support social enterprise in their communities. We’re currently looking for artisans with skills in traditional crafts such as woodwork, ceramics, basketry and leatherwork. We favour those selling items necessary to life, rather than just knickknacks. ....Faith Thomas, social entrepreneur The Village Life project is being implemented with support from Brisbane City Council.
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LISMORE COMMUNITY GARDEN… THE NEW Lismore Community Garden was one of the first major initiatives of the Rainbow Region Community Farms Inc (RRCF) which was formed in late 2006. After more than three years of persistent work by a dedicated core group of RRCF members, and many consultations with the community and Lismore City Council, a suitable site was found. Work commenced in earnest in early December 2009 with many keen volunteers joining up.
The plan—forward looking, ambitious The Garden occupies about 0.4 hectares (1 acre) of flat open parkland, which is centrally located less than a kilometre from the CBD on the corner of Brewster and Magellan streets. Expert planning has gone into creating the community garden, which provides for a staged development based on permaculture design and organic gardening principles. The plan incorporates vegie growing areas, orchards, bush foods, a nursery, a backyard demo area, worm farms, sculpture and art space, central meeting area and an admin building. It is a forward looking and ambitious project for all citizens of the City of Lismore, including families, young and old. Particular design emphasis has been given to ensuring easy and safe access to everyone. For example, there are specially raised garden beds, well planned paths and clear wheelchair access. As well as being a food garden, it is also designed to be pleasing to the senses, to be a place of beauty, for relaxation and outdoor recreation. The Lismore
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Community Garden embodies the overarching aims of the RRCF, which seeks to improve family nutrition, promote local health and fitness, bring about environmental improvements and to provide education and training aimed at creating a positive and interesting community experience for all to enjoy. Part of our vision is for it to become a central hub, a training and resource centre and model for other neighbourhood gardens in the region. It is not just a garden, but a place for developing and inspiring practical ideas in cooperative enterprise, sustainable technologies, more efficient use of resources, water conservation techniques, recycling, etc. But more importantly, we hope to enthuse and promote a wider community-minded approach, welcoming not only so called ‘greenies,’ but those who might be described as ‘mainstream.’ The garden is open six days a week and on every Saturday a meeting is held for all to attend to discuss ongoing operational matters and any other ideas to promote and improve the garden.
Our vision Our vision is very broad and constantly evolving as we grow with the garden itself. We plan to have local Primary and high school students attending, as well as community residents for workshops and demonstrations, and an outreach program to assist local people to set up their own backyard gardens.
Local businesses have also been supportive. We have already had food demonstrations— for example, a Philippine lady who showed us how to cook a salad meal from sweet potato leaves. There are people from Africa planting some of their national vegetables and a Quaker group, who propose to plant herbs used in the 17th Century. Disability support organisations are also getting involved.
Community gardens growing in region Community gardens are emerging all around the region, in Yamba, Byron, Mullumbimby, Kyogle and other towns. Coffs Harbour City Council has recently put up $250,000 to establish a community garden there. Community gardens are spreading throughout the world. In Lismore, there is enormous enthusiasm among our volunteers, as people experience the fun and enjoyment of working together, meeting new people, gaining new skills and learning about all aspects of gardening like composting, worms, construction work, etc. They see how plants grow each week and how they thrive with proper care. Getting in touch with soil and the environment is one thing, but our focus is also on engaging people through social activities such as open discussion, guest speakers, poetry, music, cooking demonstrations and so on. …Lismore gardeners
By Class 45L...
Why garden? Often other schools visit Cringila to look at our magnificent Permaculture Garden and we get asked the question, why garden? It’s like a contradiction, we have the steel industry on one side and then
A few words from Cringila Primary School’s gardener-students...
this fantastic living classroom on the other and it never fails to impress even the toughest critic. This garden provides tremendous learning opportunities for students
It’s pretty simple—we dig, plant and
There’s something very special about
grow our own vegetables, then when
working hands-on learning that you
they’re ready we harvest them and
don’t get in a classroom. Every child
celebrate our work by eating them
who comes to Cringila will leave
It gives everyone in the Cringila
as wraps or in a stirfry.
with life long skills and a greater
school community a reason to come
Teachers link the work right across
right across our school and also for parents and community members to get involved.
to school, it makes us all feel proud and gives us a sense of pride.
all key learning areas so learning
knowledge of the environment. … Class 45L
occurs not only outside but back in the classroom as well.
...not your average teacher! Aaron Sorenson is a teacher at
The first thing you notice about
a quality teacher. Aaron has used
Cringila Public School, but not your
Aaron is that he looks different to
his skills not only at schools in the
average classroom teacher.
most teachers, not that matters to
Wollongong area but also Sydney and
the students at Cringila. He’s about
even overseas, in Indonesia.
Aaron is a Permaculture and
190cm or over six foot on the old
environmental education teacher.
scale, and has a mass of dreadlocks,
He works with students from Kindergarten to Year 6 at Cringila as well as students at Warrawong High and Warrawong Primary on the Living Classroom Program as part of the Permaculture Partners Initiative.
with large weathered hands that have seen many hours of manual work in gardens and with his work in creative arts. Beneath that imposing exterior lie a heart of gold and the abilities of
Aaron Sorenson, not your average teacher!
Aaron was born in Caringbah in 1970 and he has two brothers. When he was at school he always wanted to be an archaeologist but decided late at high school to study creative arts and teaching at University instead. For many years Aaron has worked with primary & secondary students in a variety of contexts weaving both organic gardening and community arts projects into educational practice since 1993. … Chayce Lamovsek, Jaber Ayoub, Yousef Abdul-Hamid, Ashley Mihajlovski, Liam Todoroski, Jennifer Saveska, Roukaya Ali—Cringila Public School
Photos: Cringila primary school
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Cringila Primary’s kitchen garden program…
practicality | collaboration | social learning Dear Editor…
I want to explain… ....how Cringila is becoming such a healthy school. Firstly our teachers encourage us not to bring junk and to eat fruit and vegetables and to drink water. We can get prizes for just doing that. We care about the environment too, so we are all asked to use recyclable containers if possible, not plastic bags.
Our canteen, run by friendly Janet, is just the best with fruit skewers, watermelon, apple slinkies, toasted sandwiches and much more. As for all those fruit scraps, we put them in a bucket and then they are composted and other things recycled if possible. We are trying to reduce the amount of rubbish we send to landfill. I want to ask readers of this paper what are you doing to stay healthy and look after the environment? If a group of kids can do it, can’t anyone? … Crystal Niazi, Year 4
Thanks to David Lamb, Principal, Cringila PS and the Cringila students
A scene we would like to see more of … new uses for an old traffic island at Randwick Food Fair. 14 SUMMER 2010 — COMMUNITY harvest
For inner urban Sydney
two new community gardens IT’S 10am on the sunny and warm Saturday morning of 30 October in Redfern when the tree planting ceremony to mark the official opening of the James Street Reserve Community Garden takes place. For Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, participating in the tree planting is out of the question because her recent bicycle accident has left her with a broken bone in her lower leg. From her red wheelchair she watches as the gardeners lower the fruit tree into its hole. The James Street garden is the product of a determined but highcapacity group of local people who
are transforming a poorly-used area of pocket park into a productive and edible ecosystem (read their story on page 30). It is the first community garden to be built under the City of Sydney’s Community Gardens Policy (download from: http://www. cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Residents/ ParksAndLeisure/CommunityGardens/ CommunityGardensPolicy.asp). No slouchers these James Street gardeners, they have secured not only City of Sydney support but the support of local businesses, and in doing so they have transformed a boring patch of lawn into food for all. More at: http://jsrcg.blogspot.com/
http://jsrcg.blogspot.com/ (Below) The James Street crew on opening day. (Left above) Tree planting ceremony to open the new community garden. (Left, below) Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore (seated) officially opened the James Street Reserve Community Garden. Janet Verden (standing) is the community garden’s liaison with the City and is one of the core team who have taken the garden from good idea to reality.
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IT’S 11am on the sunny and warm Saturday morning of 30 October in Darlington as Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, opens the Charles Perkins Reserve renovation. A part of the makeover of the Reserve is Charlie’s Garden, a small food garden managed by a group of local people. It’s a shared garden, Charlie’s, a couple rows of raised beds of recycled bricks built by Sydney Organic Gardens (www.sydneyorganicgardens.com.
au) and finished by the gardeners in a September working bee. Now, the seedlings that were planted then are growing, tended by the gardeners who have set up a watering roster. Charlie’s Garden demonstrates how community gardening can be incorporated into the design of city parks as one of the landuse options. The Reserve also has passive recreation, a children’s playground, BBQ and shaded sitting areas below the mature trees.
www.charliesfoodgarden.com.au (Below) The Lord Mayor opens the reserve. (Right, from top) Charlie’s Garden’s Tanya Rajaratnam introduces children to worms at a learn to wormfarm workshop. Irrigating the raised beds with a mix of water and worm juice. Jazz and pops brought a musical note to the opening.
The Left: Familiar faces at the Tasmanian Community Garden Network conference in April 2010.
From left: Christine Milne, Greens politician, Costa Geogiadis, landscape architect and host of SBS, Costa’s Garden Odyssey Nel Smit, Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network state contact who works with Eat Well Tasmania and is a member of the Tasmanian Food Security Council.
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, April 2010 conference
Build a tipi… here’s how To begin the process, choose an odd number of uprights, and enough people to hold them in place in a circle (small photo below). Weave the vine cuttings to form a band near the base (small photo below). Continue weaving bands of vine, ivy or similar cuttings at intervals up the structure. Jo and Ted place the teepee (not yet finished, as you can see from the top binding—photo on right) in a garden bed where it will serve as a bean trellis.
builds a tipi… OUR BEAUTIFUL WALYO YERTA garden continues to thrive. An abundance of winter veggies means that we’ve all been feeding ourselves silly for weeks on the healthiest food imaginable. As well, we’ve just celebrated the end of our third month in existence with a teepee-building workshop. Jo Russell, one of our most dedicated members, taught a group of twenty novices the way to create garden sculptures that are both decorative and functional. Many thanks to Jo for her expertise, to Chris for the bamboo, and to Jude and Laraine for the glory vine cuttings.
After the great time we had building this first teepee, we’re keen to do more on any Sunday that offers fine weather. We welcome both members and nonmembers—anyone, in fact, who wants to lend a hand and learn the finer points of this great process. In other news, a final year student from Urbrae Agricultural College has offered to design an extension to our garden; we continue to receive positive comments from visitors and formal tour groups, and we will continue to hold Last Sunday of the Month morning teas in the garden. For more info, contact Mij Tanith on 07 8212 0078 or 0405 086 533.
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SYDNEY IS SET to catch up with Brisbane, Newcastle, Melbourne and Perth, with consultation about Sydney City Farm progressing through Leichhardt and City of Sydney council processes. Coming from so far behind other Australian cities, it’s encouraging that we could see recommendations for up to three City Farm sites emerge out of the current consultation processes. City of Sydney Council is unanimously in favour of establishing a City Farm in the Sydney local government area. The Council appointed Clouston & Associates to conduct a feasibility study to provide recommendations for the most suitable site and model for Sydney City Farm.
Sydney Park most likely option At the conclusion of the third community consultation on Wednesday 25 August, the front running site option seems to be Sydney Park as the first stage in an ‘articulated model’ that would include a site behind the Powerhouse Museum almost concurrently. There is the possibility of the Crescent Lands starting as a satellite site within five years and the adjacent land in the Harold Park redevelopment possibly being included within ten years.
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The high degree of enthusiasm and commitment from the Powerhouse Museum would make Sydney’s first city farm unique in its capacity to include highly sophisticated training, exhibitions and online resources to promote sustainable living.
November deadline Clouston’s deliveed its final report to Council in November. For more details or to participate: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov. au/Residents/ParksAndLeisure/ CommunityGardens/ CityFarmFeasabilityStudy.asp
City farm popular at Callan Park Leichhardt Council’s Callan Park master planning process, run by McGregor Coxall, is showing an extremely high degree of support for proposals to create a City Farm on the site. An online collaborative map triggered enormous community engagement in favour of a City Farm on the site, with comments like this: ...a unique opportunity to build a city farm modelled on other great examples such as CERES in Melbourne. Research shows people value the environment by their exposure to the natural world during their childhood. It is essential to offer such spaces in metropolitan cities. Spaces where
people learn about growing food, can connect with animals and build community. A city farm could also be an important vehicle for community education on sustainability and inner city food security which will become increasingly important in years to come. It too can provide a wonderful space for community gatherings and celebrations that acknowledge the traditional and current custodians of the land. McGregor Coxall will wrap up the consultation process by the end of the year. To view the online consultation process, visit: http://callanparkyourplan.com.au
To be kept up to date with all developments regarding establishing city farms in Sydney, visit www. sydneycityfarm.org and join our email list. We are a not-for-profit Incorporated Association. Our goal is to generate support for the creation of a city farm and sustainable living centre in Sydney. The organisation belongs to all its members in the community and we will hold our third AGM in October. …Carolin Wenzel, Communications Director, Sydney City Farm
In Hobart, there’s a new
of good food A food co-op where you pick your own fresh vegies? Only in Tasmania! TASMANIAN COMMUNITY GARDENER and sustainability consultant, HANNAH MOLONEY tells us all about this amazing place on a hillside overlooking the broad blue waters of the Derwent… SOURCE COMMUNITY WHOLEFOODS is a community-driven, not-for-profit venture that includes: mm an ORGANIC FOOD CO-OPERATIVE providing affordable organic, local, minimally packaged & fair trade goods. The co-op lives in a beautiful strawbale and earth building. mm a COMMUNITY GARDEN providing a fun and healthy way for people to spend time together, share valuable skills and grow their own food. The garden includes a wood-fired pizza oven, small apple orchard and composting facility and has been designed along permaculture principles.
Inside the co-op waits a welcoming array of fresh and processed foods and cheery staff.
Source was initiated in 2005 by a group of students and community members interested in creating a more sustainable future. The centre provides a place to explore social and environmental issues, acting as a living example of urban sustainability which encourages community involvement and creativity. After five years of enormous amounts of work from numerous volunteers, Source opened earlier this year. With over 600 members it has quickly established itself as a community icon
and hub for demonstrating a more sustainable and ethical approach to urban food systems. Source is now developing an educational stream to the project, providing community and school groups opportunities to learn how to grow your own food, cooking techniques such as preserving and fermenting, alternative building approaches, composting systems and permaculture. While Source is proving to be popular with the local community it is not yet financially sustainable. This is an issue the board is now focusing on addressing through phone surveys with members and meetings with core members. While the food co-op has over 600 members, they do not always shop there. To raise awareness on the importance of support from the community, the Source board are creating an information booklet so members can be more aware that it is not just another health food shop and that volunteers are critical to its existence. Despite facing challenges to secure long-term viability, Source is an ever evolving, exciting and dynamic project which is committed to working towards providing the Hobart community with ethical food choices as well as leading the way to a more sustainable urban environment. Watch this space for future developments! Source is open from Tuesday— Saturday and is located at 12 French Street, Sandy Bay, Hobart.
www.sourcewholefoods.org.au SUMMER 2010—COMMUNITY harvest
IMAGINE… Imagine Hobart’s bracing climate of warm summers and cool, windy winters. Imagine the city spread over rolling hills and along the valley of the Derwent River. Imagine one of those hills terraced into a cascade of vegetable and herbs gardens spilling to the compost bays at the bottom of the hill. Imagine trellises with apple trees espaliered along them bearing the juicy, crunchy promise of the coming season. Look up and see a building of recycled timber and rendered strawbale—THE SOURCE food co-op high on the ridge above Sandy Bay. This is no ordinary food co-operative. If you buy here you can be sure that your vegies are fresh—some of them you can pick yourself straight from the terraced garden out the front door. THE SOURCE is a social place, a member-owned social enterprise that shines exemplary like a fresh, rosy red apple catching the bright sun of a new morning. Here, it is still the morning of the Earth.
(Top right) Glass windows and doors let in the warming light of morning as leafy greens spill from a vegetable terrace. (Right) A member builds a herb spiral while others enjoy the warmth of the morning sun and chat to friends and acquaintances.
Always elegantly dressed in her handmade clothes and often encountered astride a bicycle in her hilly hometown of Hobart, Hannah Moloney occasionally ventures footloose to the mainland, collecting good ideas or involved in innovative projects. A young community leader, she has been instrumental in advancing the practice of community food gardening in Tasmania.
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A pocket park
Community Garden Half of a pocket park tucked away behind a car wash in Redfern has been transformed from a patchy, underutilised lawn into a productive food garden thanks to the efforts of a team of local people and support from the City of Sydney. IN APRIL 2009, a group of inner city residents was inspired to start the James Street Reserve Community Garden to transform an under-utilised and undesirable space into a vibrant and community oriented one. It also presented us with an opportunity to overcome the space challenge associated with our inner city gardens and increase our ability to grow fruit and vegetables.
sit in the garden. Circular raised beds were selected to create the largest planting area, to provide space for new soil, to prevent sharp corners and to provide a bright distinguishing pattern. A row of small fruit trees was planted along the lane footpath, including deciduous nut and quince and a variety of evergreen citrus. We formed the James Street Reserve Community Garden committee even
before the grant had been approved. Regular meetings were held and our committee focused on the development of its management plan (including its approach to governance, membership, gardening practices, health and safety etc). On approval of the Matching Grant, a membership drive was organised so that local residents had the opportunity to become active
Our garden vision is m
â€˜to create a living garden (an ever-evolving and experimental space that embraces change) that makes the James Street Reserve an attractive and safe space that welcomes everyone, encourages community spirit, facilitates learning and information exchange and acts as a sustainability role modelâ€™.
A City of Sydney Matching grant enabled our project to be realised by providing the approval to build the garden on public land and the funds to build the garden. The garden, designed to fit into an existing run-down pocket park that is a well-used pedestrian route to the nearby supermarket, allowed all existing, main park elements such as the path, seats and large native trees to remain. A low, unlocked fence was placed around the garden area to enable everyone to walk through and
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Educating ourselves Member education sessions are a key priority for monthly working bees as a way to exchange knowledge and educate members on a variety of organic gardening related topics. The first member education session, focusing on seed planting techniques, was extremely well received.
Ricky, one of the James Street Reserve gardeners, said to tell readers that this is a wheelchairaccessible garden. participants in the garden. The members Information Session was well attended and there is now a core group of motivated and engaged members, including a number of young and enthusiastic gardeners.
Building the first phase The first phase of the garden build and planting took place in spring 2010. An initial planting design was developed that would allow the vegetable and herb crops to be rotated for ongoing soil health. Two of the beds contain perennials such as herbs and strawberries to ensure there will always be something growing and to maintain an attractive garden.
The first planting was in spring 2010 and a wide variety of vegetables and some fruits were grown, mostly by seedling. Like all living things there will be a bit of trial and error in the first few years to see what species thrive and are the most successful. While small teams have responsibility for maintenance of each bed, the harvest will be shared. We have a number of plans for further developing the garden, including additional garden beds to maximise our harvest and the garden aesthetics, a children’s space to further engage local children with the garden and a compost system and water-tank in support of our organic and sustainable garden objective.
The official opening of James Street Reserve Community Garden by Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, is scheduled for October 30, 2010. This will be an opportunity to celebrate the establishment of the garden and to thank the many people who have already contributed to this positive community project. It is hoped that the James Street Reserve Community Garden delivers a number of benefits including increased community spirit, improved quality of life and increased understanding of sustainable and organic gardening practices. …Janet Verden
Kate & Caro - Adelaide’s food system mavens Caro MacArthur
coordinates Black Forest primary’s school kitchen garden program; state contact for Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network
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uni lecturer, local government community worker, works alongside community gardeners, Transition Towners, fruit and veg swappers and local markets in the West of Adelaide
Secuteurs Community food gardening is not something that is commonly associated with historic houses, however Adelaide’s St Andrews is showing th world that it is something just a little bit different... Mary Chapman, Coordinator of the Secateurs Community Gardening Group takes up the story...
BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS
that’s the experience of community gardeners growing food in the grounds of St Andrew’s Hospital on South Terrace, Adelaide. KINDY CHILDREN with no gardens to play in, homeless adults living rough in parks, city residents keen to meet their neighbours, hospital patients craving some fresh air away from the ward, people grappling poor mental health, teenagers participating in community service... young or old, rich or poor, the garden project epitomizes the true definition of community. Secateurs is supported by over 20 adult volunteers and another 20 youth and has been gardening at the hospital for less than a year.
Batches of preschool children from the Halifax Street Children’s Centre visit twice weekly. Many have little chance to spend in gardens—often, family homes have no garden and many working parents have little spare time to spend with their children outdoors. Children rarely see veggies growing, let alone grow any themselves. So pleased are Centre staff, who see the positive benefits for themselves, that they have already spread the positive message beyond the walls of their centre, inviting Education Department officials to visit the garden.
Comments pre-school teacher, Michelle Rodgers: “We’re using the garden for small groups of children (aged 4-5) for collecting pine cones, watering, weeding and planting. ‘It’s a place where we draw, share books and have our lunch. The garden opens up many learning opportunities within all curriculum areas (art, craft, science, physical development etc) and we will be organizing Teddy Bear Picnics, games and family event nights where the children can show their parents the garden they have been a part of creating.
The community garden retains the formal garden arrangement in keeping with the architectural and landcaping style of the historic building.
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“The garden is a place for children to come feel, smell, taste, touch, listen and enjoy the wonder of nature. The garden opens up many opportunities to explore, investigate and discover. Bringing children into the hospital garden brings laughter, spontaneity and an opportunity to give joy to others.”
The value of partnerships Secateurs has also partnered with the Hutt Street Centre and Uniting Care Wesley. Clients come together every week to garden together. The Hutt Street Centre provides services to hundreds of homeless and socially isolated people and UCW also runs programs for clients facing mental health and social isolation issues. Volunteers and their clients, who face acute levels of social isolation, can relax in a beautiful space without any pressures put upon them. They feel connected because they are meeting new people; they feel valued because, if they wish to, they can help keep the garden ticking over. Comments UCW care worker, Ed Mak: “The sense of community is palpable and the interaction and developing bonds between everyone is great to see, especially as some have lived in isolated environments. “Men and women from a variety of backgrounds, who may be dealing with life’s challenges or are marginalised by society at large, find in the Secateurs a place where they are accepted unconditionally. “They begin chatting with each other in genuine friendship, as they interact in the garden, or while enjoying a cup of tea or piece of cake or even while kicking the footy around the lawn area. “Such is the amazing power of outdoor gardening, sunshine and the beautiful
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setting on the parkland fringe with its abundant birdlife. “But let one of the participants tell you about it. Anne Goodridge is a volunteer with UCW, and also one of our clients, and she has been assisting in the community garden. She is very keen and enthusiastic and regularly provides the group with information about vegetables suitable for planting and how best to grow them. She also provides a lot of assistance with the practical side of manuring, digging and so on. Here are her observations”...
patient and admire the garden. The community can be involved in our food garden and what we can do it is limitless. “Every seed Annie grew. The garlic Tony grew with his bare hands. Many others have donated things. We have children from Halifax Street Children’s Centre who play dinosaurs in the rock pool. “We all work together and “earn our stripes” as we all put our love, hands and hearts into each of the different jobs. We are real team players.’”
‘I volunteer with Uniting Care Wesley and I graduated in Certificate 4 Horticulture. What drew me to the hospital is the love of people and the community garden which is a growing place to work and get well at the same time. Anne’s story
‘My name is Anne Goodridge and I’m from Secateurs. This is my personal story about the Secateurs and my passion with the food garden.
The good vibrations spread beyond the garden. For instance, Hutt Street Centre kitchen staff bake a cake for the group’s afternoon tea and the photographic club members take photos to display in the Centre.
‘I volunteer with Uniting Care Wesley and I graduated in Certificate 4 Horticulture. What drew me to the hospital is the love of people and the community garden which is a growing place to work and get well at the same time. “The community food garden is a futuristic garden. To me it has a calm, simple, healthy and healing affect. It’s set in a heritage setting and we all love being in the garden. “Mary Chapman is the co-ordinator who keeps us on our toes. For me it’s a healing place and an opportunity to share my knowledge and information with the community. “The garden is a place where you can come whether you are a visitor or a
Hospital medical staff have visited the children at their Centre—and the spinoff from that was that the children drew special pictures of themselves and their hearts which were displayed in the hospital reception during National Heart Week. Patients’ families and friends regularly wander into the garden to see what’s growing —a space that’s now enticing and attractive and once overgrown with woody shrubs and weeds. Hospital patient, Eric Randall, owns a hardware store and donates tools and other items to Secateurs to show his appreciation.
Comments Eric: “It’s wonderful to see the work you’re doing in the garden at St Andrews Hospital. In my line of work I have come to realise that many men of all ages find relaxation and enjoyment from having or spending time in a vegetable patch/garden. “It tends to have a very strong connection with healing, whether from stress or medically related issues. For this reason, I would love to see the garden at St Andrews Hospital expanded so that more men and women can take part in this wonderful initiative. “I can personally appreciate the healing properties of a garden; I have a small vegetable garden at home which I like to ‘escape’ to when dealing with difficult times, or when I feel ‘under the weather’. “I enjoyed my walks through the garden at St Andrew’s. It was a nice sight to see and very relaxing when given the opportunity to go outdoors during my recent stay.’
People come together One of the first tasks Secateurs volunteers undertook was to reorganise the garden furniture that had become scattered around the hospital grounds, together under the trees and around the veggie patches.
PLANNING TO MANAGE...
Suddenly the garden looked inviting and it did not take long for staff to feel drawn to the seating during their breaks— taking their lunch, chatting to colleagues.
In community garden development, social design precedes site design. It is a process of defining what we might term a group’s ‘governance’—how it will make decisions, how it will resolve disagreement, how it will communicate, how it will regulate behaviour in the community garden and so on. The process can be done before land is acquired and complements any land management plan for the community garden site.
Like music and dance, when people come together to grow produce cares and woes are cast aside and it doesn’t matter where you come from, or what your personal circumstances are, the glow of satisfaction of growing food together is felt by everyone. Best wishes to you all,and happy community gardening! ....Mary Chapman, Coordinator, Secateurs Community Gardening Group.
A new community garden start-up provided the opportunity to test the latest iteration of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network’s social design process for new gardens.
These social/organisational considerations are critical as experience shows that it depends on interpersonal relationships whether community gardens are harmonious or not and whether they succeed and fail. These relationships in turn depend on how fair, participatory and open the garden’s decision-making processes are, how the garden solves the conflicts, minor and major, that come up in the garden and how inclusive and considerate the management team is.
Attempt to systematise
The process to systematise this has been developed and prototyped by the Sydney team of the Network. It has evolved from the two-session strategic planning process trialed with a North Shore community garden team a few years ago. Like that early iteration, the process produces a document that is useful as a submission to council or other landholder to accompany an application for access to land and assistance to start a community garden. The document also serves as worksheet for developing responses to the questions it raises. Called a ‘Plan of Management’ because this is the term used by some councils that require one as part of a submission for community garden assistance, groups work through the questions, deleting those not applicable and adding any others they need. After a final edit, the document forms a succinct plan of management for a community garden organisation that indicates to the landholder that, having gone through the process, it is a credible, high capacity group. The Plan of Management template comes as a MS Word document for typing directly into and editing as part of a submission for assistance in starting a community garden. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The trials & tribulations
of setting up a community garden... FOR ME, this Community Garden journey began when as a five year old I decided to become Johnny Appleseed & plant trees all over the world. As a child of an Italian immigrant father growing fruit trees, broad beans and chooks in a little suburban backyard was just how things were mean to be. Right? Wrong! For a long time horticulture/ landscaping has been in the wilderness but this is just now slowly changing. Urban agriculture and community gardens are becoming buzz words as are climate change, peak oil & carbon footprint.
But what does it mean? There is a huge need to localise our food production, to end the era of greed and work towards a sustainable way of life. This is no longer the province of a few but an imperative from our planet. Urban agricultural is enormous: a reduction in food miles, bringing local communities together and educating our children about healthy, fresh seasonal produce. There are enormous psychosocial and physical health benefits of gardening both as a form of stress reduction that comes from being absorbed in a task and immune system benefits from getting “down and dirty’ with Mother Nature. But back to community gardens.
What to do? ... Just do it! Lobby You will become political animals. Tip—bombard councillors with emails (better than petitions).
Some good contacts
They hate getting millions of e-mails & will do anything to make it stop.
mm http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ Cooperatives_and_associations/ Associations/Associations_ legislation/Changes_to_ associations_legislation.html The new Associations Incorporation Act 2009 and Associations Incorporation Regulation 2010 commenced on 1 July 2010.
Write to you local paper Never underestimate pest power. Engage your members early on Give them something to do even before you’ve got your land. Really, not many people are interested in governance, manuals, policies and procedures—they just want to garden. Have really good education/ workshops Become social advocates and eco warriors Find sponsors—money is always nice! No land? No problem! You can garden on vacant land, street verges, your backyard, someone else’s backyard. (Yardshare will be a new initiative where a landed non-gardener will share their backyard with a landed gardener).
It’s been a long hard, frustrating time but Manly Vale Community Garden Inc will finally be opening its proverbial garden gate on 11th September.
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Thanks to Councillors Virginia & Christina, Warringah Council staff—Lia and Russell, our dedicated and hardworking committee and our longsuffering families, this dream is finally becoming a reality.
mm http://www.ourcommunity.com.au Our Community is a world-leading social enterprise that provides advice, tools and training for Australia’s 700,000 community groups, schools, governments and business. Free resources, subscription-based newsletters, books, training, jobs and much more for the Australian community sector, schools and government at local, state and federal levels. mm http://www.communitybuilders.nsw. gov.au/ This site is an interactive electronic clearing house for everyone involved in community level social, economic and environmental renewal including community leaders, community & government workers, volunteers, program managers, academics, policy makers, youth and seniors. By Jenny Brown, Manly Vale Community Garden Assistant Garden Co-ordinator/ Media Officer/General Dogs body
LIKE MANY STORIES this one starts… Once upon a time…… Once upon a time, sometime in the late 1990s, a few residents in Woolloomooloo thought they could use a piece of vacant council land to grow a few things. The land was not being used and it seemed a good idea to utilise it. So they planted it and grew a few things. The council wasn’t terribly concerned. It did no damage and it looked better than an unused vacant block. But a time came when council decided they had a use for the land and they had to move the gardeners from the small community garden they had ‘assumed’ on the property. The gardeners, now a bit more organised and no less enthusiastic, approached council for another piece of land for their garden. These negotiations took some time but eventually they reached a successful conclusion with council including a community garden in its design for the redevelopment of Sydney Place in Woolloomooloo. The late Rebecca Milligan, in her role as landscape architect for South Sydney City Council, designed the
Woolloomooloo Community Garden. The garden faces north from the southern end of the area and consists of six garden beds, two of which are raised to provide easier access for the disabled. Rebecca’s design also includes: mm paths wide enough to allow wheelchair access throughout the garden mm pathways made of pulverised granite to reduce weed growth mm two wooden compost bins mm some on-site locked storage for communal tools mm a bin for soil or mulch or other products used in the garden. A low fence, also designed by Rebecca, surrounds the garden. To the east it is bounded by a basketball court and to the south by an lawn area with barbecues. I joined the garden shortly after we moved into the area in late 2000. At the time the garden had been built and a core group was already organising themselves. We were lucky enough to be allocated a plot of our own as soon as we joined.
In the early development of the garden on its present site, council provided a pert-time community worker to help establish the garden and to develop the garden ‘community’. Council provided many cubic metres of soil to establish the garden beds and the Royal Botanic Gardens provided a range of gardening tools.
Design The gardeners decided to divide the garden into areas that were communal and those that were individual plots. The communal areas were to be tended by the garden community and, generally, they featured herb beds and more substantial plantings such as fruit trees. Because of the limited space for trees in the garden we planted multi-grafted fruit trees to increase the variety of fruit. The square garden beds used for individual plots were divided into nine, with the central area of each being designated as a communal plot. After our initial start-up assistance from our community worker the garden became self-managing. It had a small garden committee and we were offered advice, support and assistance from council through their Waste Education Officer. When South Sydney City Council was amalgamated with the City of Sydney the South Sydney staff moved and we’ve maintained a continuity in our relationship with council.
Problems Unlike some other community gardens, Woolloomooloo is not tucked out of the way. It’s right in the middle of the suburb in an area used for recreation. It is part of the community.
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Some in the community see the garden as the sole preserve of the gardeners and resent the fact that public space is taken over by these gardeners.
over the years, every vandalism event is dispiriting for the gardeners.
One or two people who don’t like community gardens can wreak a lot of havoc on it. If parents don’t respect the garden then their children are unlikely to either and it can become a place where bored children run amok or where a drunk decided to bed down for the night, or where someone frustrated with life decided to take it out on the things growing in the garden.
At one time there were a number of gardeners who thought a high fence would offer protection. But when it came to counting the numbers, the majority were of the view that if you built a tall fence around the garden then it wasn’t a community garden. A tall fence would make it a private garden, its uses and enjoyment restricted to those who had access. The gardeners agreed that if we needed to build a fence then we might as well give up.
The locked tool shed poses a challenge for anyone who has wanted to know if anything truly valuable is locked in there. We’ve had our fair share of that. Vandalism has been a problem for many years and while this is decreasing, and has decreased a lot
I think that decision was a big thing for us. it is very disheartening to come down to the garden to see the fruit and veg, the flowers and herbs you have planted and tended for years strewn around the place, pulled out, hit with a stick, trampled. And all for
no reason... to see the shed unlocked and the rake of the fork or the wheelbarrow missing... to see a blank space in the garden where a fruit tree had been growing for three years... it is disheartening. But to be able to do that and to keep on going, to replace the missing things and replant the dead or missing or damaged plants... that takes indomitable spirit. And we’ve managed to do that. The garden doesn’t have locks on it. The early locks on the gates were broken or glued shut and we dealt with it, not by continuing to replace them but by getting rid of them altogether. The sheds are still locked but with combination locks rather than keys and after years of people breaking into them, that has stopped. The last thing to go missing from the shed was a watering can but that came back about five days later. Seems someone had just borrowed it.
Diverse plants, diverse people I think community gardens attract a range of types of people. There are ‘big’ characters who freely express their opinions and have a clear view of the way things ought to progress. They can help achieve things but they can also dominate and divide a group and others who come to join may shy away because they feel bullied by the more dominant. The garden began with a committee, a chair, a treasurer and other committee members but we don’t have a committee anymore. Now we ask people to make an undertaking to come to the garden on the fourth Sunday of the month and any decisions can be discussed and decided there. The idea is that we are a group of likeminded equals. Does it work? I dunno. I think it works better than it did. I think that what we all want is to get our hands dirty and grow things. I don’t think any of us joined the garden to be adminsitrators or to be administrated to.
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We still have someone who collects membership money and someone who keeps track of membership. And there are people who are easily contacted by council about matters in the garden. We’re a bunch of gardeners and what we like is gardening. There was talk that we should become incorporated, that we should have public liability insurance. These things cost money (that council offered to pay) but it required formal administration practices, the election of office bearers, meetings and minutes. As a group we’ve taken the view that our activity in the garden is similar to that on the basketball court... recreation in a public space on council land and that it should be treated the same as any other public park. We have some rules. I don’t know them all myself. I’ll tell you instead the things I think guide us:
There are others that I don’t think have ever been written down, like don’t plant a tree in your plot. Trees are communal plantings. It’s crazy to plant a lemon tree in your plot but a lot do, and without discussion with everyone else. The design of the garden includes a couple compost bins near our little shed and the garden has been used by council to run composting workshops and as a reward for their attendance council would supply participants with compost bins or a worm farm for their home use. We use a mulch of straw and horse poo that we get delivered by the NSW Mounted Police stables in Redfern. We leave it to breakdown as horses are treated for parasitic worms and we
don’t want those anti-worm treatments affecting the worms in our soil. We recently became home for a large unwanted wormfarm that fell out of use at a school when the teacher who had been its chief booster left. Council asked the garden if it wanted it and we said ‘yes’. Damn, I though. How are we going to make it work when many of us have wormfarms that already consume our domestic vegetable refuse. But someone was keen to get it working, complete with 50,000 worms purchased for us by council. And it’s up and working.
What has been successful? Success. How can you judge? And what does that mean for a community garden? The Woolloomooloo
mm we’re organic and we try to apply permaculture principles mm we shouldn’t take things from plots without the permission of the plot holder mm we shouldn’t plant things in the communal area until we have discussed our plans at a Sunday meeting mm all major decisions are taken by those present at each fourth Sunday meeting mm if you don’t come to a fourth Sunday meeting for three months we can reallocate your plot to the next person on the waiting list mm we should all take turns watering the whole garden in dry times and write our activities in the garden diary in the shed. A large worm farm unwanted by a school was claimed by the Woolloomooloo community gardeners. Council supplied 50,000 worms to populate the farm. The worm farm supplements the compost bays in supplying nutrients to the community garden. Good relations with a local cafe has resulted in the cafe delivering its used coffee grounds that staff empty into the compost bins.
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Community Garden has won a few prizes in the garden awards from South Sydney and City of Sydney councils. So if you are counting awards, then—yep—it’s successful. We’re probably making better decisions about what we plant to get better results. The more we experiment the more we gain experience, the better our yields. And as the garden grows and develops and matures, we see the benefit of longer term plantings.
Woolloomooloo’s first coffee crop We’ve harvested our first coffee crop. Ignorant of the ways of coffee, we turned to Toby’s Estate Coffee. Toby’s first store and roasting facility was just up the road from the garden. We had coffee and he had roasting skills... would he roast it for us? “Yes”, he said, “on the condition that I can have a cup”. As it turned out, Toby’s had a trainee coffee roaster and he thought it would be a good experience for his young trainee to oversee the entire process from harvest through roasting. For Toby’s, it was a charitable and community-minded gift to the garden. But for us, the chance to meet in the garden and enjoy a cup of OUR OWN coffee as we sat under the tree was enormously satisfying. How many
people can say they’ve drunk coffee they’ve grown? If growing your own coffee is success, then—yep—tick that one off for us too. Membership of the garden has fluctuated. Maybe people get excited in spring and lose interest in summer when the major task in the garden is hand watering to keep it going if the summer is hot and dry. Maybe. People always come with a lot of enthusiasm but a garden, even a community garden, is a commitment.
The critical core I’ve talked to other community gardeners around the country and in other countries and they all say the same thing... there is a core, a handful of gardeners. And there is another group about twice the size of the core group who have varying commitment to the place. People come and go... that’s expected... but these days we have a couple more core members and a few more enthusiastic new members. If increasing membership is success then—yep—we’re succeeding. The one immutable thing is the joy of just sitting in the garden on a sunny day, surrounded by a bit of lush and interesting greenery in the middle of a city of some four million. And people do this. Garden members, local
residents and visitors who stumble upon the garden. And they take time to marvel at it and wander through it. I think being able to offer that, being able to offer a green haven in Woolloomooloo, is another success.
Advice Visitors ask if we have any advice to offer on setting up community gardens elsewhere. I’m sorry, but the answer is really ‘no’. I don’t know if the things we’ve done will work elsewhere. I don’t even know if we’re doing the ‘right’ things. The important thing is to realise that it isn’t going to go smoothly, that there will be all sorts of setbacks and false starts and personality clashes and all the things that happen when people get involved. Know that, be prepared for it and don’t let it stop you. Have a go! Keep on having a go! The last thing I should point out is that this is all my experience of our community garden. It’s what I think has happened and what happens now. My fellow gardeners are likely to have had different experiences and feelings about the garden. This has been my take on the place. This is an edited version of a paper by Woolloomooloo community gardener, Brian Waldron.
(left) Rainwater tank and bamboo shelter. (centre top) Salvaged bathtub reused as an artificial wetland garden growing Lebanese cress and water chestnut. (cente below) Rodentproof plywood compost bins with front panels that are removable to access the compost, and lockable tool cabinet with metal mesh door to show would-be thieves that there is nothing of value to them inside. (right) Wooloomooloo Community garden spokesman, Brian Waldron.
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Pushing the boundaries in Bellingen
An inspiring story by Hannah Day and Steve Smith In a Northern NSW town, an innovative crew is pushing the boundaries of community gardening... NORTHBANK COMMUNITY GARDEN was established in 2008 as an organic, non-profit, grass-roots venture. Private landholders, John and Hilary, opened up the space to be used by the community and work was begun by one gardener. Six months later three more enthusiastic gardeners came on board. Along with their children, the garden grew. Northbank was created by this garden crew through the pooling of their resources, both money and knowledge. Meetings didnâ€™t really happen in the early days; instead energy was put straight into the garden beds. Conversations were had while working and the objective of growing fresh organic produce was kept in the forefront. Two years later, the paddock given to the gardeners is more or less full
through the generosity and hard work of many people. Now, a large contingent of the community enjoys the garden and participates in garden activities.
Hive of activity The garden features a large area designated as communal beds. Theses beds have a diverse array of edible plants and all visitors are welcome to plant seeds, water, weed, fertilize and eat as desired.
All of our work goes towards creating a healthier, stronger community through opportunities for good food, good work and good friends. Working on the premise that you put back into the garden equally to what
you pull out, contributions from the community are made in the form of donations, materials or by working in the garden. Throughout the week we have visitors and weekends can be quite busy. Regular working bees give the community an opportunity to check with the garden and to find out whatâ€™s happening. The number of people attending working bees varies between five and forty and always include a shared meal and, sometimes, shared music. Visitors to working bees and garden events come from across the road, an hour away and as far as Sydney and Newcastle. Recently, the Bellingen YHA began bringing people through the garden as part of local sight-seeing tours.
Cobb conviviality The kitchen shelter and cob oven, built by members, has become central to the garden. Impromptu meals, pizza
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nights, meetings and birthday parties have become regular occurrences. It is a beautiful thing to work in the garden, to grow the vegies and to then sit down and enjoy a meal of freshly picked garden produce. Spending time with friends and family and widening and strengthening our social networks seems at times as important as getting dirt under our nails and working up a sweat gardening. The many children who regularly eat, work and play in the garden enjoy all these same benefits.
We believe that local food production is such an important thing that if we need to do it for free, then we will Expanding the food base The gardeners recently planted about 40 fruiting trees including citrus, olives, carambola, finger limes, macadamia, avocado and papaya. Increasing the number of edible tree species will mean a greater variety of food provided from the garden and will create a level of permanence.
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The garden has been steadily increasing its range of livestock. Our most recent acquisition has been a Jersey cow and calf, which is now providing fresh milk and cream. We have been increasing our collection of bee hives by catching swarms (the bees have been swarming incredibly early this year — in the same way that our mulberries budded about eight weeks earlier than usual this year). We also run about thirty chooks at the garden, which are fed on garden waste and food scraps from a number of local cafes. We have plans to set up an aquaculture system, to get more poultry (ducks and geese) and to start farming dairy goats.
Generosity creates a popular venue A stage, made entirely from donated materials, has been built at the garden, providing a space where music, theatre and films can be shared. Music gigs have become a regular and very popular event. The most recent fundraising event held at the garden was attended by over three hundred people (Bellingen has a population of under 3000 people, so this represents a significant part of our community).
The next projects for the gardeners include the construction of a new greenhouse, a composting toilet, further irrigation, camping grounds for WWOOFers and the continuing installation of a children’s space. A series of workshops is to be held at the garden this spring, in skills such as gardening, composting, beekeeping and cheese-making. Preparations are being made for a sculpture competition in the garden next year. The garden crew is also excited at the possibility of being involved in making a garden and cob oven at the new Bellingen Youth Centre.
Taking gardening out of the garden The Northbank Community Garden is now expanding into other forms of community work, with a focus on local food production and consumption as part of the broader movement towards sustainable development. We have begun work on the Bellingen Edible Streetscapes project in conjunction with the Bellingen Chamber of Commerce and Transition Bellingen (a local community group based around the ‘transition town’ concept). This project aims to plant as many edible species as possible throughout the streets of Bellingen.
The project is already underway with small edible gardens being planted by the Northbank crew out the front of local businesses in the main street. We are about to begin work planting an avenue of citrus trees along the eastern entrance to town. A significant part of this planting will be along the edge of the local sports fields, and we hope that the fruit from the trees will be enjoyed by the many local children who play soccer at the fields as well as all others. We are currently in the process of setting up a worm farm in town to recycle as much green waste from local businesses as possible and turn it into fertiliser for the Edible Streetscapes. This project is an attempt to integrate sustainable, organic, community-based agriculture into the fabric of our town.
New enterprises in community planting and livelihood creation A part of our vision for local food production is a belief in the need for employment in sustainable agriculture.
We believe that establishing strong networks of local food production is a vital part of creating a sustainable future. One of the challenges for anyone involved in organic agriculture and food production for local markets is the difficulty in making a living. Many of the people working in this area are doing so voluntarily — as we are at the garden. We believe that local food production is such an important thing that if we need to do it for free, then we will. But for local food production to become truly sustainable, and for it to increase significantly, it needs to be a means for people to make a living. We are now looking at ways that we can contribute to providing jobs for local people working in this field by: mm setting up a gardening service with an emphasis on establishing and maintaining vegie gardens and edible landscapes in private backyards.
mm developing a catering service, made up of people who have volunteered in the kitchen at garden fundraisers, providing food based around fresh, locally grown, organic produce mm we are also in the preliminary stages of establishing — with other interested parties — a service which will aim to source local produce for local consumers and restaurants, along the lines of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) schemes. Our aim in this project is to provide more options for local people to buy local food, and to provide more opportunities for local growers and farmers to sell their produce in the area. All of our work goes towards creating a healthier, stronger community through opportunities for good food, good work and good friends.
Left: Cooking food is a good idea in any community garden. At Northbank, the gardeners have built a cobb oven. Right: Celebration and cultural activity.
Left: Crowd at community garden fundraising event. Right : The community garden crew reinvigorate a planter in the town’s main street.
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In Wollongong.. community gardening on community land ...a new process WOLLONGONG CITY COUNCIL is working with neighbouring councils, Shellharbour and Kiama, supported by a grant from the NSW Environmental Trust’s Urban Sustainability Project, to respond to the emerging and urgent sustainability challenges posed to local food security and biodiversity conservation.
One of the project areas involves supporting community gardens as a method of reintegrating edible food plants into the urban landscape. This project area aims to improve access to locally grown fresh food while providing social, recreational and environmental benefits for the community. Coinciding with this exciting project has been the increasing number of requests to Council by the community to use Council land for community gardens, particularly in areas that do not currently have a local garden. A significant barrier for Wollongong Council was how to best support existing and new community gardens Vanessa John
during the life of the grant-funded project. No clear process existed by which Council land could be used for this purpose, yet several gardens were already operating on Council land. To ensure new gardens are sustainable and functional, it was decided that a structured Internal Management Policy was necessary to clarify how to respond to requests to use Council land for gardens and to set up a transparent process for assessing applications to establish such gardens.
Policy endorsed Council’s Executive endorsed the Community Gardens on Community Land Management Policy in May 2010. The policy outlines a clear and consistent position on community gardens on land classified as community land (in accordance with the Local Government Act 1993), so that approaches from the community
to undertake this activity can be considered. It includes an application process and procedures for staff to properly assess and consider the applications. Successful community garden groups will enter into a licence agreement with Council for use of the land, allowing a formal tenure arrangement and a legitimate, safe and accessible use of community land in accordance with Council’s Community Land Plan of Management.
Application process Since the endorsement of this policy, Council has been working to promote the new application process to the local community. An Information Session was held on 2 September, with approximately 50 keen members of the community attending to learn about the new process and to gather valuable contacts and resources for community gardening. There were some concerns raised about the process, mainly relating to the cost of a licence to use community land for this activity, however the overall response was positive and there were some excited discussions about appropriate sites and the establishment of a local gardener’s network. Council is now working closely with some existing community gardens on community land to assist with the establishment of their licence and is in early discussions with at least four groups of potential gardeners who are working to apply to establish community gardens in the coming year. The Policy will be reviewed within 18 months. ...Vanessa John, Wollongong Council
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In Sydney, a PIG — a Permaculture Interpretive Garden for the urban east A NEW TYPE of multiple use public open space has been opened in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs by the mayor of Randwick, councillor John Procopiadis, at Council’s annual Ecoliving Fair.
Occupying an area of what was once World War Two navy stores, the Randwick Sustainability Education Hub provides garden beds for Randwick City Council’s Organic Gardening course. A pergolas has been designed on the Fibonacci mathematical series —common pattern in nature. You will find a rain garden from from rainwater tanks collecting water from the roof of the outdoor classroom/ BBQ area. The over flow from the tanks is released into a series of ponds, where it is filtered and cleaned, then draining down into a bricked rill to then flow into a swale (infiltration trench) through to the orchard. The garden has also seating for passive recreation, a compost demonstration area, a bush garden planted to indigenous species and an orchard area. This multiple-use public space is known as the PIG, the Permaculture Interpretive Garden. It’s construction complements the retrofitting of the adjacent community centre for water and energy efficiency. That was funded from state government sources.
organic compounds, such as are outgassed by particle board/melamine products) melamine surfacing, energy efficient refrigerator and water efficient dish washer.
Certificate, which was a requisite of council in hiring their services so as the designers would share a common integrated design philosophy and ethical basis.
This will later be joined by an Energy Trail. The energy efficiency retrofit brought the installation of solar water heating, a large array of photovoltaic panels on the roof and a wind turbine, the latter two of which are grid-connected. When finished, the energy retrofit will demonstrate simple devices that home owners can install, such as moveable, exterior louvre arrays to control afternoon sun entering the west-facing rooms and skylights, already installed, that reduce the use of artificial lighting.
The PIG demonstrates different raised garden bed materials such as galvalised iron, a recycled plastic/ sawdust mix plank, stone, brick and wood/galvanised iron. A start was made on planting out the orchard/ food forest zone during council’s Ecoliving Fair in September, led by illustrator and garden educator, Rob Allsop. Rob designed the interpretive signage found through the garden and community centre retrofit. This was developed by the steering team using the Thematic Interpretation process for refining themes and key messages.
Architect, Terry Bail, who has his own practice, Archology, designed and oversaw construction of the energy and water retrofit. Sydney Organic Gardens director and landscape architect, Steve Batley, designed and constructed the PIG. Both Terry and Steve hold the Permaculture Design
With the PIG to come into use for council’s successful and long-running Organic Gardening course and the energy and water efficiency retrofit for council’s Living Smart course, the community centre/PIG brings new community education opportunities to the urban east.
Costa Georgiadis, the SBS telegardener who hosted Costa’s Garden Oddysey, opened one of the educational components of the retrofit a couple months ago. This was the Water Wise Trail, an educational element within the design that is useable by community and school groups and educates on water conservation, virtual water in food and related topics. A model kitchen has also been installed using hoop pine plywood, recycled hardwood benches, a zero-VOC (volatile
Still a work in progress, by the time this photo was taken the first crop from the vegetable beds had been harvested. The structure right background is the Fibbonacci series pergola awaiting its trellis roof over which a deciduous vine will be grown. The other structure is the remnant of a heritage naval store dating from World War Two.
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IN THE GARDEN... (from top)... Local government visitors from Marrickville and Randwick councils and City of Sydney inspect the PIG garden. Here, they check out an irrigation frame sized for the raised garden, which is built of timber and galvanised iron. Two side doors swing open to reveal a perspex side through which, for comparison, can be seen mulched and unmulched sections soil profiles.
IN THE GARDEN... Visitors inspect a raised garden bed made from a synthetic composite of recycled plastic and sawdust. Behind, some of the interpretive, educational cartoon signage produced by illustrator (and sometime PIG garden educator), Rob Allsop. Climbing legumes will be grown over the open wall to which the signage is attached. On the opposite side and out of sight is a similar frame structure for growing espaliered fruit trees.
THE CREW... In the image from left: mm Fiona Campbell, project manager for the PIG garden and Randwick Community Centre Makeover project, Randwick City Council Sustainability Education Officer mm Matt, construction manager for Sydney Organic Gardens mm Steve Batley, Director, Sydney Organic Gardens who designed and coordinated the construction of the PIG garden.
MORE CREW... In the image from left: mm Russ Grayson, Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network; project steering committee member and project documenter. mm Fiona Campbell.
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SKILLING UP... The community centre makeover and design and construction of the PIG involved community consultation. As part of this, Fiona offered a local community association, Permaculture Sydney East, the opportunity to participate in the project through design salons. This was a means of increasing the skills of the group and creating the opportunity to learn by working with a professional landscape designer and with council. These photos show the team working through he conceptual phase of the design, identifying community, council, school and user needs, and conducting a participatory site analysis. In the middle photo, Jessica, from Permaculture Sydney East, points into the distance watched by Peter Driscoll from Transition Sydney (in white shirt). Julie Gaul, seen in the lower image marking a site plan, is from the early Childhood Environmental Education Network and was an active participant in the project. Below, sustainability education consultant, Mary Bell, ponders a design solution.
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ENERGY SYSTEMS... The wind turbine tower over the solar hot water system and one of the eight water tanks installed as part of the water efficiency retrofit of the Randwick Community Centre Makeover.
Below: Photovoltaic panels complement energy produced by the wind turbine an supply power to the grid.
ENERGY AND WATER EFFICIENT KITCHEN... Built of hoop pine ply and recycled hardwood benchtops and equipped with water and energy efficient appliances, the kitchen services events held at the Randwick Community Centre. The signage on the doors provide an educational element centred around water efficiency and virtual water consumed in the production of food. The Water Wise Trail has been assisted by the NSW Government’s Water for Life Education Program. The Randwick Community Centre’s Sustainability Makeover project is supported by the NSW Government’s Climate Change Fund.
THE PIG GARDEN... Some of the planters soon after installation during construction. Some of the planters are accessible to children. A schools’ program is being developed by professional sustainability educator and consultant, Mary Bell, who is qualified in pemaculture design and sustainabilty fields.
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For Leonie, it’s time to...
Eat Your Garden Review by Russ Grayson I LEARNED TWO interesting facts while flicking through Leonie Shanahan’s new book, Eat Your Garden. The first was that you can collect and repurpose the cane toads that hop or walk into your vegetable garden by putting them into a plastic bag, placing them in your freezer then, when they have turned icy and solid, putting them into your compost heap. The second? That the three million tonnes of food waste Australians throw away every year is ore or less equal to the combined weight of one million female, Asian elephants. Those are not the only interesting facts crammed in the book’s 143 pages and most of them are about how to set up and manage a school kitchen garden. Although school gardens are the focus of Leonie’s book, anyone contemplating growing some of their own food would find the book equally useful. In discussing Leonie’s new book we need to get two facts straight: Leonie Shanahan
2. It is very much a practical, how-to book. This is a book for doers.
but would be nothing new for those familiar with permaculture. What I particularly liked, what summed up the design system for me, was Leonie’s closing statement that permaculture “ ...is a commonsense, practical way to design your life”. More than any technical explanation, this summed up permaculture for me.
Passing the cabbage
I had just got past the big red cabbage on the ‘thank you’ page where Leonie acknowledges those who had helped her when I was confronted with something I thought a little odd in a gardening book. It wasn’t the crosssection of a lime slice that attracted me, rather, it was a statement of vision and Leonie’s objectives in writing the book. Reading on, I realised that it clarifies for the reader what they are likely to get our of reading the book.
So, what does Leonie cover in Eat Your Garden? All of the components that make a successful, organic approach to food production in the school, home or community garden: composting (the black bin and Berkeley methods); wormeries; no-dig gardens (including an explanatory photo sequence of how to build them); pests and diseases of plants; saving seeds to plant later; using green manures and garden safety. There’s also garden maintenance jobs through the year and seasonal planting lists for different climates of Australia.
1. This is a visual book. It contains numerous colour photos, tables of information, arty graphic devices and little boxes attached to the page edges where you find permaculture design and other principles.
Flicking on to the pages that take the reader through the permaculture design system, the content was clear
Two useful inclusions were on tank gardens and the keeping of garden diaries. Tank gardens make use of galvanised iron planters as raised garden beds. They come in sizes suited to children and adults and why writing abut them is worthwhile is because the planters make instant garden beds, are available off-the-shelf, are durable and low maintenance, exclude weed invasion of the garden bed and are economical in relation to their expected life. Unfortunately, as Leonie points out, they do not exclude bandicoots and require netting to keep out brush turkeys. I doubt, too, whether they do much to exclude grazing wallabies.
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The other good suggestion is encouraging children (and adults too... especially if they are community gardeners) to keep a garden diary. Here they document their observations, measurements, rainfall records, air and soil temperature through the year, ideas, findings and drawings of their garden. Documenting in a diary is a good practice to encourage as it is useful in life. It builds a long-term record of the garden from which learnings can be derived. Why not add, I thought, psychological phenomena like how the children feel about the garden and what they learn? This would teach reflection and deduction had the educator the skills and knowledge to guide the process and derive learnings from it. Leonie’s ideas about the garden diary seem to suggest its value to the action learning process that is based on the sequence of LOOK > THINK > ACT.
Colourful & likeable
Sustain & collaborate
I found much to like in this colourful and practical a chapter on design in which Leonie says to avoid making gardens near big trees, especially eucalypts, because of root competition for soil nutrients. This I had seen in Hughes Street Community Garden in Sydney’s west, at Cabramatta, where a gardener was finding his soil difficult to work due to a mat of fine feeder roots that had moved into his fertile soils from the nearby eucalypt.
There’s a couple additional considerations in the chapter on starting a school kitchen garden or community garden project.
Another technique, that I have used with adults rather than children, is to lay out the design for a garden on the actual site using lime, rope, sticks and other materials to place the shapes in real-life size on the ground. Gardeners then walk around, checking accessibility and placement of elements so as to tweak the design to make it work better. It’s a useful technique between the concept plan and the working plan stages of garden design.
The first is to increase the sustainability or the self-provisioning of the garden by growing mulch on site (assuming there is sufficient space), green manure and worm castings and propagating plants from root division and cuttings. The second idea is to share knowledge and skills with parents, neighbour and the local community. This would likely have the effect of gaining local support for the kitchen garden project. Surely it’s no accident that Leonie has set ut the book so that it looks like a children’s book. This acts nicely as a lure for the practical content... practical because it reflects Leonie’s success in starting 15 school gardens and running the Permakids workshops. Shanahan L; 2010; Eat Your Garden; selfpublished, Queensland.
Order from: http://www.
urban agriculture and food sovereignty The mood is upbeat and the vision clear, writes Adelaide’s Caro McArthur... F YOU BASE your world view on the contents of NBC news or even mainstream Aussie media you might have a view of Caracas, Venezuela as a crime-filled, dirty city full of monster trucks (Venezuela still has large oil reserves) and skinny jeans (Venezuela
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boasts 14 Miss Worlds — the record!). In some ways you’d be right. Locals were shocked when Caracas petrol prices recently peaked 15 cents a litre so anyone with an old jalopy held together by rust can, and does, run a vehicle in the capital of six million. But when you peer through the carbon monoxide there’s a whole lot more going on in Caracas. Vibrant community art, colourful barrios and
ground breaking urban agricultural projects are confidently stepping up into this revolutionary space. And the twin keys to their success? Local communities have initiated these projects and the federal government has embedded their underlying principles into the governing structures, including the Venezuelan Constitution, of the country.
urban agriculture and food sovereignty continued... The Ciara Fundacion The Ciara Fundacion is an exceptional example of this new found community confidence. Back in the day, large land holders, latifundia, owned and exploited rural Venezuelan land and accumulated vast wealth. Family farmers worked these farms for a pittance and the produce was mostly exported. Crop choice was dictated by world food markets resulting in monocropping to meet consumer ‘need’ which resulted in degraded soils and local food insecurity.
Urban migration After years of oppression, many rural farmers headed to the city in an age old pilgrimage to seek greener pastures or at least employment to support their families. Of course many did not find work and attempted to ease their pain as best they could with alcohol and other substances. Overpasses and parks in Caracas remain the comfort of these lost souls. But their numbers are decreasing.
Urban farmers eat food that they grow, hold markets to sell their produce locally Sara is the Director of the Ciara Fundacion in Caracas. She coordinates 19 community gardens across the city that seek to engage rural farmers who have become lost in their search for income and meaning. At the gardens the skills of these farmers are recognised... actually celebrated! The farmers share their skills with urban Venezuelans to empower them to grow their own food in the city. Fruit and vegetables... herbs and flowers... all grown organically. Urban farmers eat food that they grow, hold markets to sell their produce locally or have regular distribution arrangements with businesses nearby.
Food sovereignty the aim The mood is upbeat and the vision clear. Venezuelans have decided that they want control of their food, its production and its distribution. Venezuelans have chosen to fight for their food sovereignty. And their President is listening. In the past Venezuela’s oil money went into the pockets of a small elite. Socialist President Chavez has reclaimed his country’s natural wealth for his people and has been quoted as saying that Venezuela’s oil money should underpin the country’s goal of food sovereignty through local agroecology projects. The Ciara projects are just one set of inspirational examples of what is possible when governments support their community’s visions for healthy and just local food systems.
Caro McArthur is a lecturer on Sustainable Community Development at UniSA and has the good fortune to work alongside community gardeners, Transition Towners, fruit and veg swappers and local markers in the West of Adelaide. Caro recently travelled to Venezuela on a Food Sovereignty Study Tour organised by Ferne Edwards at ANU.
Vibrant community art, colourful barrios and ground breaking urban agricultural projects are confidently stepping up into this revolutionary space...
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Rush of city farms hypothetical, but can Sydney support two city farms? CITY FARMS are very much an idea on the political agenda in Sydney where proposals for two are receiving the attention of councils and consultants. The proposal for a Sydney City Farm has been on the community agenda for several years and a community organisation was formed to take the idea further. In 2010, landscape consultants Clouston Associates was hired with a $50,000 grant from the City of Sydney to produce a feasibility study. The City has now placed that on exhibition for public comment (see story next page). Public response will influence what happens next. Cloustons organised a public consultation that took the form of three public meetings within the City of Sydney local government area over a period of several months in 2010. Four sites were considered—two in the Wentworth Park area adjacent to Glebe, the carpark of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo and Sydney Park, which was developed on the old brickworks and landfill site in St Peters, an inner urban suburb adjacent to Newtown. A decision on the area with best potential will be made by council. Interestingly, Sydney Park would have been the site of the Sydney City Farm proposed to, but declined by, South
Sydney City Council in 1991. Some of those who made that proposal went on to found Angel Street Permaculture Garden 1991, which is still in existence. South Sydney City Council was later absorbed into the City of Sydney. Sydney’s Inner West is the location of another proposal for a city farm, where landscape consultants McGregor Coxall have put online a draft masterplan for the future of the Callan Park lands in Rozelle. Callan Park is an extensive area of open space, once the site of a psychiatric hospital. The masterplan envisions the continuation of the lands as a multiple use space that includes a possible city farm and community garden. In early October, Leichhardt Council publicly announced the possibility of a city farm on the site. The masterplan retains the existing Glovers Community Garden, Sydney’s ‘heritage’ community garden that was the first documented community garden in NSW, making its start around 1985, and proposes its enlargement.
City farms—from none to two It’s hypothetical, but the possibility of two city farms in the inner urban area raises questions.
One of these, and an important one, is about the viability of two city farms so close together. Were the Callan Park city farm proposal to go ahead (the Sydney City Farm proposal is more advanced than that for Callan Park, which remains an option in the masterplan), would there be competition for grant funding and would there be enough people to participate in the development and management of the two farms? Pertinent to this are the enterprises that have inspired so many proposals for city farms around Australia— Melbourne’s CERES and Collingwood Childrens’ Farm. What often goes unnoted is the fact that what inspires visitors to CERES represents over 30 years of development. These two Melbourne organisations operate as social enterprises and draw participation and visitors from a broad metropolitan catchment. So does Northey Street City Farm in Brisbane. The question is whether city farms in Sydney would do the same. Sydney might be a little different. It’s a city with strong regional identification—the Inner West, Eastern Suburbs, Western Suburbs, North Shore and so on—and is said to be more difficult to travel around than Melbourne, especially by public transport. Whether the proposed city farms would attract visitors from as large a catchment as do those in Melbourne ramains a question unanswered. And if they don’t then how would that affect their financial model and viability? Would they both have to scale-down in their ambition and perhaps develop speciality attractions that are complimentary rather than competitive? >>> continued on page 43
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Sydney city farm one big step closer THE NOVEMBER MEETING of Sydney City Council voted to approve the feasibility study for the Sydney City Farm being placed on exhibition for public comment. The study had first to be voted upon the Council’s Environment and Heritage Committee. This took place a week before the Council decision to exhibit the document. The study is available at City of Sydney libraries, community centres and the Powerhouse Museum. The public submission period ends on 25 February 2011so that people going on holiday have a chance to comment.
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What we find in Sydney is the decentralisation of sustainability education, which is a major component of city farm operations. We already have the new Randwick Sustainability, a proposed sustainability hub in Blacktown, the Kimbriki garden education centre in Terrey Hills, the Barrett House demonstration house in Randwick as well as the proposed Sydney City Farm and, perhaps some day, a city farm at Callan Park.
Just the latest attempt Sydney City Farm is the latest of four attempts to start a city farmsustainability education centre in the city. The first was the Sydney City Farm proposal for Sydney park in 1990.
Late amendments to the proposal, passed by Council, included the removal of the Monsanto corporation as a potential source of donations and that a means of assessing businesses offering support be introduced (Monsanto had been included by the consultants that produced the feasibility study).
More information: City farm: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw. gov.au/Council/OnExhibition/ CityFarmFeasibilityStudy.asp Russ Grayson, community gardens & landcare volunteer coordinator, City of Sydney: email@example.com. gov.au
Following the exhibition, public comment will be assessed and a recommendation made to Council on the future of the city farm proposal. Please feel free to comment on the proposal for the city farm.
Next came the initiative that ended when the land proposed for the development in Manly became unavailable. Noted permaculture educator, Jill Finnane, Fiona Campbell, Maria Maguire from facilitation business, Unfolding Futures, an architect and representative of the Alternative Technology Association and the author of this article were among the group behind that initiative. Next came the CERES-inspired Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living which was established on the city’s far southwestern fringe, near Camden.
Adelaide will succeed in finding land for their city farm proposal.
It appears that, now, the time has come for a city farm in Sydney. If this eventuates, the city would join Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Newcastle as centres hosting city farms. And who knows? Maybe the Permaculture Education Zone team in
Northey Street City Farm (Brisbane): www.northeystreetcityfarm.org.au
City farms around Australia: Callan Park masterplan: http://callanparkyourplan.com.au/ index.php Sydney City Farm: www.sydneycityfarm.org Adelaide city farm proposal: pezadelaide.wordpress.com CERES: www.ceres.org.au Collingwood Childrens’ Farm: www.farm.org.au
Perth City Farm: cityfarmperth.org.au
Kooragang City Farm (Newcastle NSW): www.hcr.cma.nsw.gov.au/ kooragang/KCF_cityFarm.htm Story by Russ Grayson. Disclosure: The author is urban agriculture adviser to the Callan Park masterplan process and works as coordinator of community gardens and Landcare volunteer projects for the City of Sydney, for which he manages the City of Sydney’s role in Sydney City Farm.
SUMMER 2010—COMMUNITY harvest
How to Cultivate Community IN AUGUST 2009 I arrived as CEO at Cultivating Community. Known for its work in managing gardens on public housing estates in Melbourne as part of the Department of Human Services’ Office of Housing Community Gardens Program, I soon found there is a lot more to the scope of activities undertaken by Cultivating Community than many would realise. The Community Garden Program manages around 850 plots in gardens at 21 locations, mostly on Melbourne’s high-rise public housing estates from Brunswick in the north, through the estates of Flemington, Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond south to South Melbourne, St Kilda and Prahran. That said, the gardens are a focus for tenant participation and as such the communication and activities undertaken in each garden are central to their management. This requires a great degree of cultural competence in dealing with people effectively and respectfully when there may be as many as 30 different language groups represented in one garden alone. However, our recent successful Quality Improvement in Community Services Accreditation (QICSA) saw Cultivating Community commended for our approach to dealing with diversity in the community garden setting.
Collaboration enables successful school program The Edible Classrooms Program ran in 12 schools in 2010, teaching kids about seasonal food growing and using the gardens as a vehicle for a range of learning. Our long-standing association with the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne (RBG) has continued through different activities such as the Growing
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School Community Gardens course and in March 2010 we worked with RBG staff to present at the Tools for Environmental Change workshop at the Melbourne Museum that was attended by over 200 schools. This year we have once more worked with the University of Melbourne’s Masters of Urban Horticulture elective of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture.
A diversity of creative activities Other activities undertaken by Cultivating Community come under the categories of community garden development and community food systems. The former involves constructing from scratch or rebuilding community gardens. Utilising partnerships with Mission Australia’s Urban Renewal social enterprise program and also by supervising a Green Jobs training program ourselves we have successfully completed three rebuilds and several refurbishments of gardens. The development of gardens via our consultancy role is something we are often called on to do and partnerships with Major Projects Victoria for a new community garden in Parkville and with Community and Neighbourhood Renewal Programs have seen us consult to other garden developments. In addition we work closely with local governments, particularly the City of Yarra, in the development of guidelines for community gardens and food growing spaces more generally in the community.
Innovation expands our role The Community Food Systems work has sparked some innovative projects.
Our fresh food markets that run weekly on housing estates have been evaluated and are in the process of converting to food box cooperatives in 2011. We also have piloted and are now expanding a ‘Compost Mates’ program for the City of Yarra, whereby local cafes and schools are matched with home composters, and additionally, a regular monthly food swap, Yarra Urban Harvest, in Fitzroy. These projects have been scaled up and, in addition, community composting workshops and a project to improve composting in community gardens on public housing estates have been funded. Our new Sustainability Victoria Compost Champions will see us conduct a food waste-to -compost recycling program on the Collingwood public housing estate.
New plan on way Our board and staff are busy working on a new strategic plan that will allow us to focus our activities. Our new website, when finished, will allow us to promote our work comprehensively to a broad audience. All of these activities place Cultivating Community in the forefront in urban agriculture initiatives in Melbourne. We are always looking to learn and exchange information with other organisations working in sustainable food growing fields and to contribute information for broader public access. We look forward to continuing our work with all our partners in assisting the development of more resilient communities into the future, in a time of global challenges in urban development and a changing climate. Jennifer Alden CEO, Cultivating Community, Melbourne.