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Community HARVEST Newsletter of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network – building local food cultures


inSIDE... Gardens, gleanings and goannas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Alliances focus on food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

Community growing in Perth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Saving rare apples in the mountains

Garden on Fern Avenue


School garden in Black Forest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Sustainability focus shifts SW. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Information sheets show how-to . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

Community gardens go in Sydney

New in print . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

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Photo: Holding up the sun - Jude Fanton, Seed Savers’ Network Photograher: Russ Grayson



australian city farms & community gardens network

community HARVEST community CULTURE Editor’s blurb

BENDIGO, THE SUNSHINE COAST, ADELAIDE and now Melbourne — the locations of the annual conferences of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network is starting to look like a grand tour in search of community-based solutions to sustainability. This edition of Community Harvest comes out just before the 2007 annual conference. It promises to be a conference such as we have never seen, a conference linked to those of allied groups such as the school garden-to-kitchen association and the Seed Savers’ Network. Just as the plants in our community gardens cross-pollinate, so will the ideas of these different organisations. This edition reports the development of community gardening and city farming across Australia. It also reports the loss of two community gardens in Sydney and the lessons we can draw from that so that we, as a national network, can reinforce the place of community garden agriculture and community building and make it more resilient. Importantly in a country focused mainly on the eastern seaboard, this edition reports on initiatives in Western and South Australia, places more distant from the eastern states but places where real progress is being made. Also in the pages that follow is news of new food security organisations, developments that signify that the concept of food security is now being recognised as important to urban sustainability. The opening just a few months ago of The Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living is also a positive pointer to the future and a badly needed educational asset for the Sydney region. In this edition you will find news from other food networks — not just city farms, community COMMUNITY HARVEST is the journal of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network Editor: Russ Grayson Designer: Fiona Campbell All text and images remain the copyright of their authors/producers unless otherwise stated. All care taken but no responsibility accepted for the consequences of trying anything described in Community Harvest.


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and school gardens. The reason for this is that these are allied organisations working, like community gardeners do in their own way, in food issues. Many community gardeners are also active with these organisations — the Network is represented on the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance, for instance. It’s good to report increased visitation to the Network’s website— Community gardeners find information about starting their gardens there and journalists researching stories find us there first then follow up with phone calls. If you would like your garden’s story to appear on the website, simply send it in. And don’t forget that the news pages and calendar are there for gardeners to use, too. Also worth noting is the utility of the Network’s email listserver, which is being increasingly used to find and supply information (join: It’s pleasing to note an increased media interest in community gardening. The weekend before finishing this edition, Sydney’s Sun Herald gave three pages to home and community garden food production, with colour photographs plus a cover picture of Jill Finnane amd grandchildren in her garden. Last year, Glovers Community Garden and mention of the Network appeared in a Sydney Morning Herald supplement. These appearances are notable because of the extent of coverage and the number of photographs. Let’s go forward confidently into 2007 and consolidate both our gardens and the operation of the national Network.

...Russ Grayson

The Northey Street City Farm

Organic Growers’ Market has now moved to Sunday

• • • • • •

same operating hours (6:00 am - 10:30 am) all the old favourite stalls extra new stalls hot coffee, chai, breakfast, treats etc lots of bike racks & parking fully organic produce & products

our gardens, our communities

GARDENS, gleaning & goannas Kim Hill reports from Western Australia on her adventure in the arid lands LEONORA IS A SMALL TOWN in the West Australian Goldfields, 240km north of Kalgoorlie. Susie Scott and I spent three months there, working with the indigenous community on developing fruit and vegetable gardens. We worked with individual households, the local school and the CDEP group (Community Development Employment Program, a work for the dole program for indigenous communities).

After meeting all the interested members of the community and discussing with them what they would like to get out of the project, we identified three areas to focus on — CDEP, the school and households interested in establishing gardens at home. We encountered sufficient interest in the project for the provision of a fruit tree to every indigenous household in town (around 60 houses) to be viable.

The project is co-ordinated by Dr Christine Jeffries-Stokes of the UWA Rural Clinical School in Kalgoorlie. Christine has identified high rates of diabetes and kidney disease among the indigenous population in the area and is working with them to improve their health through diet and lifestyle and, thereby, reducing the incidence and impact of these diseases.

James and Samantha are the highly inspired and motivated supervisors of CDEP. They are dedicated to the project and committed to making positive changes in their community. We worked with them to establish a nursery, to plant fruit trees and native plants and establish vegie gardens at their work site.

One part of the project is to educate the communities about growing fruit and vegetables for improved nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and community development. The nearby communities of Laverton and Mt Margaret are also participating in the project. I was recruited for the project by Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV) after a request from the community for assistance with learning these skills. ICV provides cultural awareness training and gives volunteers an allowance for the duration of the project.

Our work in the arid region Leonora is in an arid region with hot summers and an annual rainfall of 230mm. The soil is bright red, with high salinity and it is very low in organic matter and only a couple of centimetres deep before meeting rock. There are quite a few fruit trees around town, with citrus, mulberry, fig, olive, carob, grape and passionfruit all being popular.

Work and cooperation bring transformation By the end of November, the CDEP worksite had been transformed with lots of garden beds created and trees planted and two shadehouses in the process of being built. I spent two mornings a week at CDEP conducting workshops, supervising activities and assisting the workers to gather resources to develop the site. All the workers enjoyed being involved in establishing the gardens and learning about Permaculture. I worked with them to develop a design for the site that included more trees, gardens and structures and a huge rainwater tank donated by a nearby BHP mine. The site was used for community workshops during the project and is intended to be a demonstration site, showing composting, mulching and a range of fruit and vegetable plants. With 25 workers and lots of visitors to the site, this is an ideal location for a community garden and demonstration site and a very effective means of raising awareness and providing skills to the community.

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our gardens, our communities

Fruit trees a success A major part of the project was to provide a fruit tree for every indigenous household in town. We found that early evening was a good time to deliver trees as most people were home and happy to chat. We gave each household a citrus tree, with a choice of varieties. They also received a bag of manure and a flyer with information about the project and how to site, plant, and care for the tree. Everyone was happy to take on the responsibility and many planted their trees immediately. A few people had already established gardens, but, for most, this is their first experience of growing anything. So, with fruit trees growing at all 60 indigenous households in town, fruit growing has become part of the culture, and the trees are being well cared for. Due to the low organic matter in the soil, procuring mulch and compostable materials became a priority. Our only sources of organic matter were roadkill, horse manure from the racecourse and lawn clippings from the school oval. We found that, as the temperatures rose at the beginning of summer, a lot of the annual vegetables wilted and died. It was necessary to have a shade structure to grow anything at all in summer.

Involving the local school Another aspect of the project that kept us busy was conducting gardening lessons at the local school. We initially consulted with all the students, a class at a time. They have varying levels of gardening experience and are all interested in growing rockmelons, watermelons and fruit trees at school. The melons are bound to do well as there are wild (but inedible) melons growing as a weed in the bush. Each week in term four, we had a half hour lesson with each of the six classes, from pre-primary to secondary. Over the five weeks, the students had


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the opportunity to experience many aspects of food growing, including: •

making potting mix and raising plants from seed

building a garden bed at school and planting out seedlings and seeds

making compost

planting a fruit tree.

By working with the school students we were able to raise awareness of the project in the wider community. By linking with another community project we were able to conduct two field trips to nearby properties with well established gardens and orchards. We learned about gardening in arid regions and collected cuttings and seeds. There were about ten participants on each field trip, all interested to learn about growing techniques and unfamiliar plants.

Gleaning from the bush There’s lots of useful stuff dumped in the bush around Leonora. Some is from mining operations, other stuff is household or industrial waste. We managed to glean trellises, fences, compost bins, buckets, polypipe, ladders, mulch, flyscreens, and I even found a six meter high tankstand. There were plenty of opportunities to visit the many swimming holes, lakes and dams nearby and to go on expeditions out-bush to find bushfoods and cook kangaroo, goanna and damper on a campfire. One spectacular evening was spent swimming in a freshwater lake at sunset, under a rainbow, while lightning filled the sky and a light rain fell. ICV is looking for more volunteers. If you are interested in experiencing life on an indigenous community while sharing your skills, check out:

...Kim Hill, harmonic designs — school gardens, permaculture design, education for sustainable living

From seed to stalk ...the growth of community gardens in Perth, WA PERTH SEEMS A LONG WAY from the rest of Australia, yet despite the distance the west coast harbours some strong, old community gardens and exciting young networks. So, its time to break the silence! Here’s a quick guide to your next community garden holiday in the west.

Growing WA communities Imagine... two mega-networks getting together and joining resources to promote community gardens across the state. This is a project that combines the energy of Learning Centre Link (the peak body for Learning Centres and Community Houses) and the WA Community Garden Network (WACGN — an association for city farms, community gardens and similar projects) with extra support from key, local governments and disability support services. The project will start in 2007 by using existing teleconferencing and regional networks to do a comprehensive survey of existing and potential community gardens in WA. It will then seek to produce some useful links, tools, and resources for everyone to use: •

a map of community garden projects in WA

an information kit/starter pack for establishing community garden projects

information forums for communities/ organisations/groups

online and downloadable resources for people involved in community gardens

a WACGN web site with web-based networking tools.

The project will aim to build stronger links between learning centres and community gardens, while marketing the social/health/enviro benefits to key stakeholders including local government, state government agencies and business.

Contact WACGN, email the member’s listserver:

WA School Kitchen Garden Program In September 2006, City Farm Perth established a school kitchen garden (SKG) program, which aims to increase children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables by providing information, resources, guidance and facilitation support for school communities to establish and maintain school food gardens, school kitchens and an integrated SKG learning program. The program is a joint initiative of City Farm Perth, the South Metropolitan Public Health Unit, the Child and Adolescent Community Health Division, Foodbank WA and the Sustainable Schools Initiative. In the school context, the SKG program provides physical environments and opportunities where school students can participate in growing, harvesting, cooking and eating fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables in the school grounds, with the aim of developing healthy eating habits, a love of food, an understanding of ecology and knowledge of where food comes from. In November 2006 City Farm Perth undertook an internet based ‘school food garden’ survey, which was sent out to 160 primary schools. The results are helping to inform a Healthway Pilot Project submission (six schools) and another sixschool cluster within the South Metropolitan health region. We are currently working on school curriculum development and securing funding for this program to meet the demand from schools. We receive constant requests for farm tours, information and financial support from primary schools wanting to incorporate food gardens and kitchens into the school grounds and curriculum framework.

Contact: Program Manager, Clayton Chipper: 089 331 6390 or 0422 960 191;

For information about the project, email Chris Byrne:

Chris Byrne takes us on a tour of community gardens and sustainability centres in the West School children learn about plants at City Farm Perth’s Kitchen Garden Program

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Perth City Farm – the organic centre of town

Piney Lakes – combining community garden and wetlands ... cautiously

Take a short walk from Perth’s CBD and you find yourself in an inner-city bush oasis of art and organic gardens.

Piney Lakes Community Garden is located in the south of Perth in the centre of a culturally significant and environmentally sensitive reserve.

Perth City Farm started in 1992 as a environmental resource centre and has grown into a spectacular demonstration site for green city living. The venue is located next to the Claisebrook railway station, only 200m from Northbridge, the city entertainment precinct.

The site offers an escape from suburbanity. It’s where you might catch glimpses of the occasional Quenda (Southern Banded Bandicoot), bobtails, snakes, frogs and a wonderful variety of birds that flock to Piney Lake to get reprieve from the heat and drought conditions.

The vision of Perth City Farm is to achieve P.E.A.C.E. (Permaculture, Education, Arts, Community and Enterprise). The venue hosts an incredible variety of programs which reflect each of these themes.

There is a strong sense of responsibility in gardening so close to sensitive water systems and Piney Lakes is keen to hear from other projects around Australia who manage similar concerns.

The philosophy of the Perth City Farm is simple: ‘We plant trees to help people grow’. The project is built on the foundation of making people welcome. The Perth City Farm has several key features: •

organic growers market every Saturday, 8 am to 12 Noon

regular festivals such as the infamous Harvest or Tomato fringe fests

horticultural therapy programs

learning and volunteering opportunities most days of the week.

Perth City Farm: 08 9325 7229

Perth City Farms, a multi-purpose sustainability centre close to the city


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On March 17, Piney Lakes Environmental Education Centre hosted Envirofest, with a range of ‘Garden Ramblers’ on hand to discuss herbs and get you started.

Information : Erin —

FERN – painting the port green FERN started in 2004, born from the coffee and vibrant counterculture of Fremantle with a vision of engaging the community in all aspects of sustainable living. FERN can be found on the corner of High and Montreal Street, just minutes from the cosmopolitan hub of central Fremantle. Current features at FERN include: •

weekly, Tuesday night community ‘organic feeds’ to approximately 50 to 70 members of the larger Fremantle community; each month a film with a sustainability focus is screened

workshops and community support in water efficient technologies including demonstrations, interpretative signage and community workshops

a range of green workshops, from biodynamics to slow-food cooking, Italian-style

programs in development, including an Edible Schools Program, out-of-classroom education for margnialised young people and a Sustainable Streets program (a competition between neighbours in their streets to see who can have the least impact — great for building community capacity too).

For more information about FERN:

Gumnuts – investing in environmental playspace

Story Trail — which includes mosaic and interpretive signage by local Aboriginal artists, schools, and community

Nestled in the foothills of Perth, the Gumnuts community includes community gardeners, playgroups, woodturners and a range of community groups.

Harmony Food Festival — connecting cultural food lessons at the local community house with the construction of an onsite pizza oven and multicultural pizza fair.

The garden exists on the healthy sweat of its happy volunteers and monthly workshops. Current projects include: •

development of an ‘integrated garden/ playspace’ with the help of a $50,000 grant and support from the City of Swan; this is to create an area which is playfriendly, productive and involves the whole community

Pe r m a c u l t u r e g a r d e n s a n d w a t e r technologies

planning for regular festivals, film nights and community events.

The site can be found on Mudalla Way in the heart of Koongamia. Information: Narelle Chambers 08 9250 3302.

LCGP is a partnership between key local residents, the Anglican Church, Brockman Community House and others. The vision for the LCGP is to provide a space where people can ‘cooperate, transform, produce, empower and celebrate”.

Information: Harry Wykham

Earthwise Community – no funding, timetables or classes Earthwise is located on Bagot Road in Subiaco, an inner suburb of Perth. The garden surrounds a decommissioned pink church which houses an op-shop, low-cost food centre and community meeting/eating space. After 11 years the fruit trees are bearing well and offering plenty of shade and interest. Features of Earthwise Community include an outdoor pizza oven, solar powered fountain and a nine metre dragon perched in the eucalypts, which all add to the ambience. Earthwise currently receives no on-going funding and relies on weekly working bees (Friday mornings) to keep the gardens producing. Other regular activities include twice-weekly feeds and monthly ‘open-mic’ music nights.

Gumnut gardeners work in their Permaculture garden

Lockridge Community Garden — food security and reconciliation Located in the multicultural eastern suburbs, the LCGP has a strong focus on reconciliation and bringing together the diverse cultural stories of local residents. This work happens with the development of relationships through the garden and through special projects, such as:

Earthwise has a history of working alongside other support services including local youth accommodation and mental health groups. However, the biggest strength of the Earthwise space is to act as a conduit to those who feel they often don’t fit in to other community activities. As someone said, ‘there are no timetables and classes... it makes it more real’.

Information: Peg Davies 0422 941 492

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our gardens, our communities

FERN AVENUE COMMUNITY GARDEN found on a quiet suburban street in the inner-southern Adelaide suburb of Fullarton


t’s easy to miss Fern Avenue Community Garden, tucked away amid suburban houses on a long, tree lined street. Find the garden, then walk in and notice the vegetable beds lush with early autumn growth on one side and mature, shady trees on the other. Move into the dimness and there’s a gardener sitting on a bench, enjoying solitude in the deep, cooling shade of low-hanging branches... and there, those reddish fruit... they’re persimmon, aren’t they? There’s a path through this shady side of the garden that takes you below trees and past more vegetable beds. That one there, out in the sun, it looks like it’s growing capsicum. Is the gardener harvesting ripe fruit or searching for bugs? There’s 30 allotments beside the entry path. Some are 20 square metres, a size for a family; others are half that size, for individual gardeners. Follow the path the length of the garden to come to the pale yellow straw bale office and storage building It’s cool inside, and spacious, and there’s facilities to make tea and refreshments. The path continues... notice the large rainwater tank, needed to tide the garden over the hot summers of this Mediterranean climate, and come at last to the Natureloo, the garden’s composting toilet. The land belongs to the local council which provides it to the community gardeners for a peppercorn lease. For council, it’s been a wise investment because the gardeners have created a diverse oasis of edible crops and native plants. Fern Avenue Community Garden has made the journey from gardening space to community place. Take a tour of this productive and peaceful community garden on the following page...

Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network South Australia co-ordinator, claire fulton, describes Fern Avenue Community Garden as “a... hub of conviviality and productivity”. 8

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The allotments of individual gardeners occupy the area immediately behind the streetside fence at Fern Avenue Community Garden. The main path transiting the site is concrete, for durability and low maintenance. The narrower, bark-mulch paths provide easy access to allotments.

Seen through a fringe of grapevine, Fern Avenue Community Garden is a sea of edible, delicious productivity. Allotments and common areas somehow thrive in Adelaide’s dry, summer heat. Boosting the appeal of the garden is the attention paid to aesthetics. The provision of smooth, wide and paved paths ease movement through the garden and improve safety.

The value of retaining existing shade trees in a community garden is demonstrated by the cool, shady refuge provided by this specimen. The provision of seating and play equipment for children makes more than a single use of the space. Sheltered nooks such as this increase the opportunity for social interaction as gardeners sit out the hot, early afternoons of summer.

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our gardens, our communities In Sydney’s South-West, a new...

Sustainability education centre takes root MCSL’s energy efficient building generates electricity from its rooftop photoelectric panels

IT’S LESS THAN TWO HOURS from the centre of the metropolis but a world away in sustainability. The Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living (MCSL), South-West Sydney’s ambitious and most significant community centre for sustainablity, was officially opened in February this year. MCSL is a non-profit, community-driven, multi-use site in the grounds of Mt Annan Botanical Gardens. Initially funded by the Federal Government through the Sustainable Regions Programme, the centre’s more-than-capable sustainability education team provide services for school children, visitors and volunteers. The volunteers develop the community garden and the community nursery and help maintain the five hectare site and centre.


gorgeous bricks, solar panel array and striking mini-orb has prompted so many passers-by to just drop in and have a look”, said MCSL sustainability educator, Lizzy Rose. “We’ve sent almost 3000kWh of clean, green energy to the grid since July last year and only taken 20kWh back for our own use. “The buildings and gardens are operating purely on the stormwater and rainwater we collect and the reeds are growing happily while helping to recycle all our wastewater.”

The million dollar, passive solar design, energy and water efficient education building is attracting a lot of interest. “The sweeping roofline,

Kathy Giunta, another educator at MCSL, said, “We kicked off last year with a $50,000 Showcase grant from the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation along with Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living partners, Liverpool and Camden councils, to keep the Sustainability Blitz ecogardening workshops pumping along”.

Lizzie Rose performs while Kathy creates

Tao Triebels (left) and Kay at work in the MCSL garden

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“The Blitz project also won a Keep Australia Beautiful award for ‘making improvements to the community through the creation of effective and lasting partnerships with government authorities.’ “We began our schools outreach program, visiting schools from Buxton through to Leumeah and have installed worm farms and compost bins aplenty. “The second annual Sustainable Schools EXPO was a great success with around 200 local students and teachers coming along to celebrate their environmental achievements and share their ideas and skills with each other. “September saw our largest open weekend ever, with over 1000 people visiting the Centre to see demonstrations on straw bale building and organic gardening, to wander through the stalls, take a tour of the site or relax with a cuppa at the café. “October was another great month with our first major fundraiser — a screening of the climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth. Volunteers, directors, staff and other supporters dedicated a whole day to the Futures Planning Workshop which will assist with our long term planning. And, to top things off, our volunteers were nominated for an Order of Macarthur Award.”

MCSL — the sustainability education crew with Kathy Guinta (front), Lizzie Rose (right)

Learn more and download MCSL’s first e-newsletter at

The recipe...

MCSL Superb, Organic, Flavourful, Fantastic TOMATO SAUCE A team of vollies harvested, harvested and harvested then wheeled barrowloads of tomatoes from the garden to our organic café. There, they began the exciting process of making our very first tomato sauce. We now have 16 bottles of the tasty sauce which we use for catering, in the café and to sell.


How to make it

1 tsp black pepper corns

Skin and deseed the tomatoes.

2 kgs chopped tomatoes (or more)

Chop everything!

2 medium white onions

Throw everything into a large saucepan and cook for about 40mins or until the tomatoes have disintegrated.

Some garlic Half a cup red wine vinegar 1 cup sugar 2 tsp coarse salt 1 tbl tomato paste ...and herbs from the garden...whatever is available A nice combo is basil and garlic, or you could try thyme and sage.

If there is too much liquid after about 40 mins then simmer without the lid until it reduces. When done, pour the hot sauce into hot, sterilised jars (easy to have the jars in a saucepan of boiling water). This process will enable a vacuum seal and will allow you to keep the sauce for up to six months.

If you have an excess of tomatoes like we did, just vary the amount of ingredients accordingly.

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our gardens, our communities

Once there were THREE... ONCE THERE WERE THREE, now there is one. Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, once the epicentre of community garden development in this city of four million, now has only the Randwick Community Organic Garden. For a region with the second highest population density in the southern hemisphere, where half the residents live in medium density housing, access to public open space is critical. The loss of two community gardens, the urban food production, interpersonal relationships and social capital they generated, and the reputation of one as a venue for community arts, is a loss to community gardening and community enterprise in the region. THEY TIED COLOURED RIBBONS to the fence built to keep them out, and when they gazed through the fence all they could see was the garden into which they had put so much time and effort now desiccated and overgrown with weeds. A report on the February meeting of the UNSW council confirmed the loss of the garden to the community. The university said in view of “strict regulatory childcare requirements, it was considered in the best interest of the University to utilise the associated facilities solely for childcare needs.”

Randwick Greens lent their support to the gardeners as did NSW Upper House Greens, Lee Rhiannon and Ian Cohen. Support came from other community gardens after the circulation of an appeal on the national community garden network listserver, as well as from past students who had an association with the garden. The Southern Courier reported the story and gardeners were interviewed on educational public radio, 2SER FM’s environment program.

What is lost

The gardener’s farewell ceremony completed and recorded by a press photographer from the Southern Courier, the gardeners and community artists, including one-time local Greens Mayor, Murray Matson, retired to Whittle Park to share food and listen to the Rainbow Choir, which used to perform in the community garden.

The closure of the community garden deprives the Eastern Suburbs of a food production, recreational, social and a community arts venue developed by the community garden’s Arts in the Garden team. Gone is the accapella, the Rainbow Choir, the poetry, Medieval festivals with readings from Chaucer, the shared food and performance.

The place at issue was the UNSW Permaculture Community Garden, a site known Australia-wide but resumed by the university in late 2006. The decision to evict community members, as well as university staff and students who participated in the garden, was vigorously resisted by the gardeners and the community artists. They saw their resistance as a matter of principle stemming from their values and their belief that resisting large, powerful corporate bodies, like the university, was important in asserting pro-community values.

...Russ Grayson

Also gone is an educational venue used to teach organic gardening by Eastern Suburbs Community College, Randwick Council for its Sustainable Gardening and Sustainable Urban Living workshop series and which was visited by TAFE horticulture and Permaculture classes. But perhaps the most important loss is the social capital built up through the cooperation and shared decision making by the gardeners and arts interests. It is also a loss for the Permaculture design system.

February 2007... community gardeners, community artists and supporters tie farewell ribbons (signifying all those that signed their petition) to the fence.


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our gardens, our communities

Randwick City Council Greens councillor and deputy mayor, Murray Matson, ties a ribbon to the fence to commemorate what was an innovative community garden and example of urban Permaculture design

The annual garden beds and mulched paths with the food forest behind.

The Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network sent a letter to the UNSW vice-chancellor and to the head of facilities, urging them to negotiate with the UNSW Permaculture Community Gardeners and describing the multiple roles of community gardens in our society. Neither have had the courtesy to respond to the Network or even acknowledge our letter. THE UNSW Permaculture Community Garden made a start after the UNSW Student Guild’s Leith Sharp organised a five day Permaculture garden design course in December 1993. During the subsequent years the trainers, Fiona Campbell and the author, made an agreement with the gardeners to help improve their skills. Late in the 1990s, the university tried to take back the garden but an online campaign resulted in the university agreeing that it could continue. It was an example of the effectiveness of online campaigning by commmunity interests. To secure the garden for the future, the gardeners came up with the idea of retrofitting an adjoining, university-owned house to demonstrate energy and water efficient renovation. Funding was

By February 2007 the garden pictured above had been reduced to a weedy, untended patch, unwatered in the drought, the chooks gone and the compost system demolished sourced and the UNSW Ecoliving Centre started. A coordinator was hired. The project received philanthropic support over its early years until the university took over funding the coordinator and the project moved into the university’s ambit. The decision making role of the gardeners was weakened — rather than a garden under community care and management, it became a university garden with a level of community participation. Over its twelve or so years, the UNSW Permaculture Community Garden served as an example of Permaculture design and as a venue for communitybased education aand community arts.

More on the UNSW garden:

SUMMER 2007— COMMUNITY harvest


our gardens, our communities


Eviction a loss to community-based garden agriculture and urban Permaculture AT THE SAME TIME that gardeners were being evicted from the UNSW Permaculture Community Garden, something similar was happening at the Eastern Suburbs Community Garden in adjoining Waverley municipality. This time it was Waverley Council behind the eviction of a community garden team that had been there since the 1990s. While other Sydney councils show interest in starting community gardens and offer support to citizen gardener teams, Waverley Council’s action makes it a minority of one in the metropolis. Council went to the unprecedented and expensive extent of hiring a consultant to report on the future of the garden, then made the decision not to renew the lease to the community garden team. The team was given until February this year to evacuate the site. Curiously, Waverley Council dithered over the future of the garden for some time, holding the gardeners in a state of uncertainty and effectively discouraging any major works on site. Now, Council proposes to adopt an allotment model and lease plots itself, and plans to hire its own garden coordinator. Without any expertise in community garden management, with little knowledge of the ethos and practices of community gardening, it remains to be seen what eventuates under Council control. Council leasing allotments in a garden is not at issue; what is, is the way the gardeners were dispossessed. Eastern Suburbs was a model garden which won the 2006 Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network Award for Excellence. Interestingly, Waverley Council staff attended the presentation. It is a seeming contradiction that Council takes control of the garden at the same time it employs environmental educators and has an elected Greens

presence. It is also curious that, on a Council website page maintained by their Waste Education & Research Officer (last updated 8.8.06), Council announced that it is funding a workshop in worm farming and composting on 24 March this year in the ‘community garden’ ( council/pws/waste/Workshops/wormfarm.asp). The garden attracted visitors who came to learn about its innovative and organic approach to community garden management. Whether Council environmental educators and Greens councillors know that urban food production is a solution promoted by the UN to feed our cities, and of the role of community gardens in that, is unknown. T h e c o m m u n i t y g a r d e n e r ’s o u t r e a c h service to assist new community gardens was testament to the valuable social role that the gardener’s performed. Their efforts were a practical example of relocalisation (more at: The loss of community control represents a loss of social capital and community endeavour and the loss of an example of productive and systematic Permaculture design. As some gardeners have suggested, it raises questions about municipal governance and what role local government sees for due process and deliberative democracy. It is probably no exaggeration to suggest that the garden was perhaps the most productive, public example of a Permaculture food production system in the Sydney region. In terms of high productivity, organic systems, the gardenerteam approach to site management and visual presentation, the Eastern Suburbs garden was exemplary. It was also a convivial place, with its monthly shared meal in the garden for which as much garden produce as possible was used.

...Russ Grayson An Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network trainer leads a workshop in the Eastern Suburbs Community Garden.


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The Eastern Suburbs Community Garden crew display the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network Award for Excellence

our gardens, our communities

The Eastern Suburbs Community Garden’s

Rob Joyner


March 7th 2007 This is to touch base again and let you know that Vicki and I will not be able to attend the National Conference this year. No doubt delegates will be upset to hear about the closure of our garden and the UNSW garden and all the heartache and disappointment this has caused. Waverley Council gave the ESCGA a set of conditions to obtain a one year lease renewal. We met all the conditions. We were also given an additional “off the record” condition to reinstate a vexatious member who had been expelled two years previously. This ex-member holds strong connections with many of the staff and councillors. We declined to do this and our lease was terminated. We believe Waverley Council actions have been motivated by parochial politics and lack integrity. Waverley Council now plans to re-open the site later this year with a paid co-ordinator, private plots and limited membership criteria. The ESCGA has decided to continue as an association, without a garden, so that we can continue to enjoy the friendships we have made together and to facilitate the transfer of our members and our assets to other gardens. We have been given heartening support from the Randwick Community Organic Garden who have very kindly agreed to store our equipment and some plants until our members options are clear. We are also very grateful to the national City Farms and Community Gardens Network for giving us the National Award for Excellence last year. It was a great morale boost to us even if it did not alter the devious intentions of Waverley Council. I hope the National Conference is a great success and that we will have better news to report in the future once this difficult incident is behind us. Kind regards, Rob Joyner

Hello... hello... Waverley Greens? AN INVITATION WAS MADE to Greens councillors on Waverley Council to put their case in writing for publishing in this journal. The invitation was, in fact, made three times via email. Mora Main responded on 23 January, saying she would answer questions put to Green councillors by the editor. Seemingly, none of the other Greens could managed a response. Perhaps it is the proximity of local government elections that have prevented the Green response. If so, it is unusual because it is usually the nearness of elections that bring out the politicians... and community gardeners vote. If Mora or any other Greens do respond we will publish their response on the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network website so that it is on the public record, along with other information about the loss of the Eastern Suburbs Community Garden.

A little editorial piece...

This strange thing called the Waverley Greens THE COMPLICITY OF THE WAVERLEY GREENS in the eviction of the Eastern Suburbs Community gardeners draws into question Greens rhetoric about being a pro-community party. The only support for the gardeners came from a single ALP councillor, all others, including The Greens, choosing to side with the bureaucracy. The decision to go against a community group puts the Waverley Greens at odds with their counterparts on Randwick City Council and other Greens in neighbouring Randwick municipality (and with NSW Upper House Greens). It paints The Greens as a somewhat schizophrenic party with each group in local government areas doing its own thing. This has the potential to alienate support for a party many voters see as a viable alternative to the two big parties, something, in Waverley at least, that is now in doubt.

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our gardens, our communities

For community gardeners, what are the lessons?

WHAT LESSONS can we, as community gardeners, draw from the closure of Sydney’s two best known community gardens? The lessons of the campaign to save the UNSW and Waverley gardens is that networking and creating a presence for your garden is important.

LESSON NUMBER ONE: Put effort into building relationships centred on the community garden. Creating productive links with local government (especially sustainability, waste and environmental educators), educational institutions, health and nutrition interests, arts groups, community education providers, local Permaculture, seed saving and gardening associations, the local media and the garden’s neighbours builds a constituency interested in the continuity of the garden. Networks reinforce security of tenure. LESSON NUMBER TWO: Develop skills in advocacy so that relationships can be nurtured, local government and other interests lobbied and gardens defended. A little media savvy goes a long way when it comes to highlighting the achievements of the community garden and to defending it. Why not ask your local council library about putting up a photo display about the garden? LEARNING NUMBER THREE: Develop your community garden into a multiple-use site. If your garden is visually pleasing and safe, then you can invite in other potential users such as those mentioned in learning number one (above). The idea is to layer on uses other than gardening to multiply the social utility of the community garden. More users means more supporters for the garden. LESSON NUMBER FOUR: invite in documentarists. Make the garden available to students and practitioners of documentary photography and video production and to local history practitioners. That way, the garden becomes better known, is written into local history and is recognised for its social values. Invite local media — newspapers, radio, community television, online media — to report on activities in the garden. Appoint a media liaison. An open and welcoming attitude to media producers will help to establish a presence for your garden. LESSSON NUMBER FIVE: Build positive links with local residents by inviting them to use the garden for passive recreation, relaxation and for their children to visit, even if they have no interest in gardening. If your garden occupies public open space, such as local government land, a welcoming attitude reduces


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Education in community gardens - an Eastern Suburbs Community College organic gardening class the likelihood of the community garden being seen to alienate public space from other users. Offer workshops in compost making, making a wormery, capturing and storing rainwater, cooking, plant lore and uses, ethnobotany, gardening and plant propagation to gardeners and the public. This layers an educational value onto the community garden and provides skills to the community, further reinforcing the social and educational value of the garden. LESSON NUMBER SIX: Create conviviality by holding celebrations and festivals that are open to the public to increase the value of the garden as a community place and neighbourhood focus. Equinox, solstice, the departure and return of migratory birds, the turn of the seasons, the fruiting of food plants, participatory planting and harvest festivals and more have been inspiration for celebration by community gardeners. Music, poetry and book readings (try for local writers too) and seasonal open days are all ways to bring people into your garden and to reinforce gardens as community places. Build relationships with your local writers centre and groups which could use the garden for book launches, readings and presentations. Invite the local mayor to open the festivals. Make sure the media are there to record it. LESSON NUMBER SEVEN: Make links with local food and urban agriculture advocates in the community and universities and with organisations such as local Slow Foods and food fairness alliance groups. Offer articles and photos for their newsletters. LESSON NUMBER EIGHT: Be visible and findable. Put your community garden’s story and events on the website of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network: All of these proposals link community gardens to different interests in the city so as to reinforce their presence as social and productive places and increase their value. It is all about recognising the value of networking.

...Russ Grayson, ACFCGN NSW

our food security

Alliances act on food security FEBRUARY 2007 WAS A BUSY TIME for food security advocates in the greater Sydney region. Late in the month, members of the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA: au) gathered at the Edmund Rice Centre for social justice to start planning a Sydney Food Policy. The following day, members of Illawarra Food Fairness Alliance got together in a Wollongong Council building to plan their future activities. The full day process was professionally facilitated by Les Robinson, a local social change facilitator and educator. The missions of the organisations focuses on education and advocacy. Saving Sydney’s threatened urban fringe market gardens, making a submission to the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy, urban agriculture (including community food gardens), equity of access to sustaining, nutritious food and dietary issues are major areas of action. According to the SFFA, access to food should be regarded as a human right. The SFFA was launched in 2006 in a ceremony at NSW Parliament House.

Early success encourages action Both organisations are less than two years old but they have been successful in organising well-attended public events and gaining media coverage.

Food coops — a DIY strategy for food security

Successful cooperation Asked why the members of the alliances work so well together and why the organisations have accomplished much in their short lives, one member said that it was due to the professional backgrounds of those involved. As community and health-sector professionals, members are used to working with people and cooperating with other organisations. The professional work of their membership makes them well informed, politically savvy and cognisant of the importance of policy as an enabling tool. It looks as though there’s a new force in food issues in our cities.

Download SFFA education sheets:

Their membership is similar — health workers, nutritionists, community workers, local government staff, church representation, Australian City farms & Community Gardens Network representation, people active in developing school educational gardens and a small smattering of Permaculture advocates (Permaculture is a design system for sustainable living). The Illawarra alliance is fortunate to have gained the support of Wollongong Council. Council’s Sustainability Education Officer, Vanessa John, liaises with the Alliance. Council employed a woman to work on food security issues in 2006-2007. One of the outcomes from the Illawarra conference was moves to save genetic material, in the form of cuttings, from an old apple orchard that has been bought by the water catchment authority (see page 25).

Sydney’s Food Distribution Network is represented on the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance. The Network provides a food box home delivery service to people unable to shop for themselves. The slogan reads ‘Food for people, not for profit’.

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our food security

Campaigning for SYDNEY’S FARMLAND

Cohen says that the farmers of the urban fringe — primarily market gardeners on family farms that supply much of the city’s fresh food — are in danger from uncontrolled urbanisation. He quotes Diane Beamer, one-time Minister for Western Sydney, as telling urban fringe farmers that in 20 years they will have no future, a somewhat ironic remark for a politician, a class that can have remarkably short futures. On just 2.5 per cent of the state’s land, Cohen claims that urban fringe farmers produce 20 per cent of the state’s total vegetable production, 48 per cent

Ian Cohen

HE’S A SURFER and campaigner who was outspoken, confrontational and assertive. Now, he’s a Greens MP in NSW’s Upper House. Ian Cohen has broadened his perspective of things environmental to include the saving of Sydney’s urban fringe farmland.

of its poultry and close to 100 per cent of its leafy green vegetables. That gives an average return per hectare of around $534, more than any other area of the state. Ian Cohen, one-time environmental desperado now respectable parliamentarian, joins the chorus of academics, farmers, food advocates and lovers of local food in calling for a food-oriented approach to landuse in the city’s west.

Goodbye bok-choy GOODBYE CORIANDER

A fact sheet on Sydney’s urban fringe farming can be downloaded from www.

IN A CITY desperate for living space, farmers on the urban fringe could be the losers... some of them, at least... in the rush to cover the land with urban development. Others look forward its arrival so they can sell their land to finance their retirement.

“Many planners and developers argue these farmers are sitting on a goldmine, just waiting for the land to be subdivided so they can retire comfortably on the profits as part of their ‘superannuation’. While some farmers want to sell their land, many do not”, says associate professor, Frances Parker, from the UWS Social Justice Social Change Research Centre. “The reality is a significant portion of the farmers in the Bringelly area lease their farms from land owners. Once that land is sold from under them they walk away with nothing except the very real prospect of becoming permanently displaced. For those staying on in Sydney, relocating to another farm may be complicated by council restrictions, rates and land prices. Then there are complaints from neighbours in the encroaching housing estates about farm odour and noise.

“Agriculture injects a massive $1 billion into the NSW economy. Most of us are unaware that at the heart of this billion-dollar industry are small, family-run farms in south-west and northwest Sydney, producing the majority of our city’s supply of fresh leafy greens and other vegetables, poultry, strawberries, cherry tomatoes and flowers. A sustainable city needs to feed itself, and in a burgeoning city like Sydney, it’s a marvel that fresh produce is still able to be grown within 50 kilometres of our front doors.” Ms Parker was speaking at a 2005 Australian Conservation Foundation’s forum at the University of Sydney. Once farming is pushed out of the Sydney basin, food will have to be brought from more distant farms, adding to its cost, the food miles it contributes to global warning and reducing the freshness of vegetables, herbs and fruit available in the city. “We need to accommodate our growing population, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our city’s locally-grown fresh food supply or farmers’ livelihoods”, said Ms Frances.

ACTION: Write to Minister for Planning, Level 31, Governor Macquarie Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney 2000, requesting that urban fringe farmland be preserved and that the state seek the means to recompense farmers relying on the sale of farm land as superannuation. 18

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our food security A collection for our future in a community garden aboretum...

Blue Mountains Community Garden PRESERVES RARE APPLES TAKE A WALK through the Blue Mountains Community Garden... you see herbs, vegetables, a cobb oven, a huge mosaic maze, mudbrick shed... and an avenue of rare apple trees. Just as some community gardeners adopt species of vegetables or herbs to save the seeds and distribute through the local seed networks set up by the Seed Savers’ Network (, so the Katoomba community gardeners have chosen apples as their adopted plant. These are rare apples, not the limited range of common varieties you find in supermarkets. And the

Individual trees are signposted with the variety of apple and the year the cultivar was developed.

Local Permaculture designer and teacher, Rosemary Morrow (right), and the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network’s Fiona Campbell walk the mosaic maze path at Blue Mountains Community Garden. The path is an example of how community arts can be incorporated into the design of community gardens. Grant funding was obtained for the mosaic.

gardeners, who have a knack for landscape design, have made this genetic library all the more appealing by arranging the orchard in the form of a double avenue along which the visitor walks to end up not at another garden bed but at the big mosaic maze whose path you follow to end up in the centre. Apples grow well in the temperate climate of the Blue Mountains and the collection the community gardeners have developed makes their garden unique. Best time to visit is in Spring when the trees are covered in bright, white blossoms.

Blue Mountains Community Garden’s apple walk is an educational avenue disclosing the cultivated history of the apple tree.

A welcoming entry sign shows the community garden is not the preserve of a select group and that everyone is welcome to come and wander. Entry is over a bridge built by gardeners.

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local seed networks in community gardens

The LOCAL connection ...compiled from the Seed Savers’ newsletter - DECENTRALISATION IS THE FUTURE OF SEED SAVING IN AUSTRALIA, according to Jude Fanton, a director of the Seed Savers’ Network . “The idea behind local seed networks is that you connect with gardeners near you and swap seeds and cuttings”, said Jude. “Community gardens are great places for local seed networks because they are accessible to the public. Plants grown for seed can be planted in the garden itself. “You can start a network with a small group within a community garden and set aside a number of garden beds especially for seed production”, she said. A number of community gardens have already started local seed networks.

Dig In Port Melbourne Seed Savers

Adelaide Hills and Plains Seed Savers’ celebrates the start of their group at Fern Avenue Community Garden

DIG IN PORT MELBOURNE SEED SAVERS was established in Spring 2006 at the Dig In Community Garden in Bayside, Melbourne. We started with a happy bunch of seven members and hope get more recruits in 2007. We’re in our infancy and suspect that other garden members are awaiting the results of our first communal harvest before committing to the group. No pressure on us to perform at all... ! We are fortunate to have been allocated a raised, communal bed for dedicated seed-saving purposes. This is valuable in a community garden where there is limited space to grow plants for seed in individual plots — though some of our members are opting to do this as well. Our plot was planted out as a group activity and we have a roster for

Adelaide Hills & Plains seed saver knifes a pumpkin watering, maintenance and maintaining the plants. Our summer crop consisted of ‘beginners’ plants such as tomatoes, lettuce, climbing beans and squash.

A start at Fern Avenue Community Garden THE ADELAIDE HILLS AND PLAINS SEED SAVERS’ is a new group in Adelaide that was started through an organic gardening course at Fern Avenue Community Garden. Anyone is welcome. We have met several times and feel that we share a link with the earth and each other through the wonders of the seed. Gardeners are generous people and at each gathering there have been baskets of goodies to swap such as seeds, cuttings, runners and produce from our gardens. One member has seeds of a yellow tomato that her European father grew in Adelaide for many years. Now, we all ensure that this heirloom spreads and is enjoyed in our summer salads.

If you would like to join our group check the blog: http://

Southern Cross Seed Savers — Melbourne THOSE WHO JOINED US AT THE LAST MEETING at the Veg Out Community Garden (www.vegout.asn. au) in St Kilda went home inspired by the gardeners, whose individual plots represent personal taste and interests. There are fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, herbs, chooks and budgies. We’ve been invited to gather there again.

Contact: Margaret Angus 03 9761 1778


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our gardens, our food

The conviviality of the table...

SHARING food Baking bread, Blue Mountains Community Garden

AH, FOOD! There’s nothing like it to bring people together, especially in community gardens. It’s the hook, the binding agent, the glue that makes community gardening socially sticky. A focus on food is natural in community gardens. You grow the food to be eaten, and picking, preparing, cooking and consuming the stuff as a shared meal turns the everyday act of eating into a social occasion that can help bind a community garden group into a more cohesive entity of friends and acquaintances. Chef and author, Stephanie Alexander, calls it ‘the community of the table’. She refers to the conversation, the sharing, the company of others — whether friends, visitors or strangers — at what we can call the conviviality of the shared meal. It’s all about creating a local food community — an informal association of people focused on the production, cooking, sharing of and learning about food. So, how can you introduce food preparation, nutrition and the enjoyment and social glue of food into your garden? •

first, you need a clean space for food preparation and eating that is free of grime and grot; the food preparation and cooking and dining area is a ‘special space’ to be kept clean

next, you need something to cook on; Blue Mountains Community Garden in Katoomba and Northey Street City Farm in Brisbane have earthern cobb ovens; Veg Out Community Garden in St Kilda has a huge pizza oven; all you need, however is a simple barbecue or gas cooker

you need a little expertise; amateur, sometimes professional cooks are found in community garden groups, so ask around and find one to lead the session and train others

as well as regular cook-ups and meals, why not run a workshop in simple garden-fresh cooking at which someone demonstrates meal preparation? Some years ago, Javanese cook, Betty Bailey, ran a workshop at Young Earth Community Garden in Western Sydney in which people participated and learned simple and tasty Indonesian cooking how about a food festival in your community garden?; a celebration of local food where visitors can see it growing?

Before you organise an event for the public involving the preparation of food, check if there are any local government regulations about doing so. So, go forth and cook, and make the creation of your own community garden local food culture a convivial, tasty and regular event.

Zaina and Mabel lead a cooking demonstration for the Waterloo Estate community gardeners. Photo: Rhonda Hunt

A resource kit...

for South Australian community gardeners Everything you need to know about running a community garden... from designing and developing your garden to maintaining and promoting it. PRINT: $5 + $5 postage CONTACT CAHN: 08 8371 4622

SUMMER 2007— COMMUNITY harvest


gardening our schools

FUNDING SECURED for edible schools planning HEALTHY GROWING, COOKING AND EATING are to get a boost in Melbourne schools thanks to new ‘edible classroom’ funding secured by Cultivating Community (CC — au). CC is a community association providing a range of services around community gardens and community food systems in Victoria. The agency contracts to the Victorian Department of Human Services to provide support to 20 community gardens on state government housing estates. CC is the Victorian coordinator of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network. According to CC CEO Ben Neil, “CC will develop a business plan and consultation model to engage with schools on developing edible classrooms. This will involve working collaboratively with the Gould League (, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation ( au), Landlearn (, Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies ( and the Garden of Eden community garden and education centre ( to ensure a coordinated approach to delivering curriculum

Collingwood College garden in inner-urban Melbourne in which trainers from Cultivating Community and the Stephanie Alexander Foundation work with students in outdoor and kitchen learning environments. Students grow, prepare, cook and eat food from the garden in their kitchen classroom. They also prepare and print menus for the meals.

support services related to the natural sciences and healthy eating and environmental sustainability”.

Garden to kitchen — new trials The funding will assist CC in dealing with enquiries from schools interested in developing edible gardens and associated cooking programs. Once this system is in place it will be trialed at three schools in metro Melbourne, including Thornbury Primary and Laverton Secondary College. “There is an increasing demand from schools for assistance with establishing gardens and healthy eating programs,” said Ben. “Edible gardens and garden-based activities are seen as vehicles for strengthening school communities and there is a growing body of evidence that they can break down cultural barriers, provide therapeutic benefits to students with learning and behavioural difficulties and address a number of key issues such as isolation, Victorian Educational Learning Standards, environmental protection, obesity, nutrition and active learning.”

Hub secures funding Success in obtaining the grant, from the Victorian Department of Communities and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, was achieved through Cultivating Community’s Innovation Hub. The Hub was set up to provide support to CC staff and volunteers, developing ideas and projects that incorporate innovation into CC service delivery. “This is a wonderful addition to the work that we already carry out in five primary schools and a perfect compliment to the relationship that we have with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. The schools that are currently involved are St Peters Primary in Clayton, Park Hill Primary in Ashwood, Brunswick Special Development School in West Brunswick, Nudawading Primary and Collingwood College,” said Ben.


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CC CEO, Ben Neil

Grant and cooperation to benefit schools

gardening our schools

STILL THRIVING, eleven years later Adelaide school garden stands the test of time FOR AROUND 20 YEARS, Adelaide’s Black Forest Primary School has operated a successful school food garden, thanks to the expertise and enthusiasm of project coordinator and teacher, Graham Hunt, who started the project and integrated the garden into the school’s academic life. Funding for the project was obtained as grants from the National Landcare Program, Greening Australia, Trees for Life and from parents and students. Graham met the challenges of staff training and produced written curriculum guidelines and lesson ideas so that the food garden would become part of the school’s work. To allay fears that he was stuffing more into the curriculum than teachers and students could handle, Graham made sure that environmental education at Black Forest involved hands-on activities across the curriculum. Graham advises that schools considering environmental education develop a vision and school-wide commitment.

Garden as inspiration A number of people who went on to become active in the educational use of school food gardens first saw the Black Forest garden during Robina McCurdy’s three-day course on school gardens that was held at Black Forest Primary in 1995. Eleven years later, during the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network’s annual conference in Adelaide, some of those same people were enthused at finding the Black Forest garden thriving.

Wide, smoothly paved and safe paths take students and visitors through the productive garden in which vegetable, fruit and herbs thrive. Garden beds used by class groups.

Black Forest Primary school’s food garden continues to grow and to be used in the school’s education program.

To join the gardens in schools listserv, an online conversation space, go to:

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the news pages

Network produces... EDUCATIONAL FACT SHEETS THE AUSTRALIAN CITY FARMS & Community Gardens Network, in cooperation with the Australia-based international development agency, TerraCircle (, has produced a series of educational fact sheets on urban food gardening and food systems.

The fact sheets are designed for use by community gardeners, local government sustainability educators, gardening, Permaculture and other sustainability educators. Designed variously in A4 and A3 size for ease of home printing, the sheets can be reproduced in full colour or black and white. The sheets are made available under a Creative Commons licence that permits reproduction and distribution, without change, providing subsequent use is under the licence and carries the same Creative Commons notice. Community gardening, community food systems, composting, making a no-dig garden, crop rotation, making a food forest, how ideas diffuse through societies, organic gardening, Permaculture and the resourceful (energy, water, food) home make up the first issue. Others will follow. The Network also has developed Powerpoint presentations on the themes of introducing community gardens and ideas for new community gardens. These are also issued under Creative Commons.

Discussion briefs from food alliance The community garden network’s fact sheets preceded similar publications by the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance. The Alliance’s sheets, like the Network’s, are issued under a Creative Commons licence to make it easy for other organisations to use. Titles include: alternative food systems; community gardens; food miles; food insecurity; people gather around food (the cultural role of food); a Sydney Basin agriculture primer; urban agriculture; what is the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance?

Information about accessing the community garden network’s fact sheets will appear on The discussion sheets produced by the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance can be downloaded from


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the news pages

Alliance considers... HERITAGE APPLE RESCUE A PROPOSALTO RESCUE heritage apple varieties growing in a Cordeaux River orchard in NSW’s Illawarra region (just south of Sydney) has come out of the February conference of the Illawarra Food Fairness Alliance (www.). The fate of the orchard was came up during small group discussions. It was suggested that genetic material in the form of cuttings from the apple varieties might be collected and replanted where people with the skills to maintain the trees in a healthy condition could tend them. During the break, conference facilitator, Les Robinson, took the initiative to phone the Sydney Water Catchment Authority to sound them out about gaining access to the orchard to collect planting material. They responded positively, informing Les that the property would be fenced to keep out vandals but that a mutually agreeable time for collecting the material may be negotiated.

The orchard is to be destroyed and the site allowed to return to native vegetation as part of the water catchment. It was suggested that biologist, author and member of the Seed Savers’ Network, David Murray (see book reviews, page 27) and Dan Deighton might be the appropriate people to organise the collection. Dan, a landscape and Permaculture designer and member of the Illawarra Food Fairness Alliance, lives in the Illawarra where he designs school food gardens that are used for educational purposes and is engaged in social work. In proposing the rescue, the example of Katoomba Community Garden’s apple varieties collection (page 19) was raised as an example of how the rescued apple varieties could be used. If the collection of the planting material eventuates, it will be another successful action initiated by Illawarra Food Fairness Alliance.

First hospitality graduates at... YAAMA DHINAWAN THE FIRST STUDENTS to complete a new indigenous food training course at Redfern were awarded their graduation certificates by Education Minister and Member for Marrickville, NSW, Carmel Tebbutt, in December 2006.

Training funds have been provided by the NSW Department of Education and Training and the Commonwealth Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

Yaama Dhinawan training centre will give local and indigenous students a better chance of employment in the hospitality industry.

According to Minister for Redfern Waterloo, Frank Sartor, the hospitality course is expected to train at least 60 students a year for employment in modern Australian cuisine, including indigenous produce.

Ms Tebbutt said the course will set a new direction for the students by teaching hospitality basics and encouraging specialisation in indigenous cuisine.

Yaama Dhinawan has exiting catering contracts and a commercial café and function centre is due to open next year.

The Minister recognised the key role of Aboriginal elder and caterer, Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo, and young Aboriginal chef, Matt Cribb.

Ms Van-Oploo said she was proud to see Yaama Dhinawan’s first students now able to enter the workforce.

Part of the North Eveleigh Training Centre, Yaama Dhinawan was set up with a $750,000 from the Redfern-Waterloo Authority.

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inPRINT... Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids

The most accessible guide yet to Permaculture

Gardens, kitchens and the table — Stephanie Alexander’s new, largeformat, full-colour book for people working with school students in garden and kitchen is not only timely, it is a photographic feast as well.

One thing you can say with certainty is that Ro s e m a r y M o r r o w ’s new edition of her 1993 Permaculture design manual is THE book for DIY Permaculture application.

Stephanie describes Collingwood College’s garden-to-kitchen project, which has served as prototype to successive school gardening, cooking and dining projects. There’s 120 recipes, all suitable for cooking in school programs, as well as menus. Stephanie’s is no cafeteria-type mass market food for children — it’s high-grade but easily-prepared dishes such as you would expect from a noted chef and cookbook author.

The new edition draws on Rosemary’s work in Australia, Cambodia and Vietnam. Rosemary teaches the Permaculture design courses in her home town of Katoomba and has built up a local and viable sustainability network.

With the Melbourne-based organisation, Cultivating Community (see story page 22), the Stephanie Alexander Foundation has brought a new credibility to the educational use of school gardens, a practice long-established in places like Adelaide’s Black Forest Primary School (page 23) and stimulated by the 1995 Australian visit of New Zealander, Robina McCurdy. Stephanie long ago realised the necessity of going beyond the garden and into the school kitchen and dining room. The accomplishment of the two organisations involved in the Collingwood College project has been to introduce children to the joys of the full food cycle, from seed to garden to kitchen to eating. Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids is inspiration to similar projects in places other than Melbourne.

Alexander S, 2006; Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids; Penguin Books, Victoria. ISBN 13: 978 1 920989 49 1

Her’s is a practical, humane and dogma-free approach to sustainability at the local level. Read the book and know that you are basing your actions on the knowledge and experience of one of Permaculture’s true ‘elders’, an unpretentious, alltoo-modest woman whose common sense ideas and personal example transforms the lives of those that come into contact with her. The Earth Users Guide is a practical book written in plain English. A folio of colour prints illustrate the themes. Included is Rosemary’s own iteration of Permaculture’s principles of design. Illustrating Rosemary’s ideas are the line drawings of Rob Allsop — a Sydney-based Permaculture veteran who could well be called the ‘Quite Permaculturist’. Illustrator and photographer and an old associate of Rosemary, Rob also worked in Cambodia.

Morrow R, 2006; The Earth Users Guide to Permaculture; Kangaroo Press, Sydney. ISBN 0 7318 1271 9

Rosemary Morrow

Read more about community gardening in the ABC’s...

Organic Gardener magazine Australia’s authoritative journal of organic living now includes community gardening.

Subscriptions: 02 8444 4490 ...or from your newsagent.


SUMMER 2007— COMMUNITY harvest

David Murray’s no-nonsense guide to organic gardening

The Seed Savers’ Handbook

How do you describe a book by a man who has buried eight tonnes of food scraps in his garden over a 20 year period then tells readers that the deluge of gardening books “remaindered from the northern hemisphere” are just what we don’t need here? Authoritative, concise and easy to read are descriptions that come to mind. Veteran seed saver, David Murray’s book on organic gardening in Australia is no new title, rather, it is a reprint of the same title released in 2000. There’s the usual themes here — soil preparation, the use of mulch, conserving water in the garden, dealing with weeds and saving your seed. There’s also important information on plant pests and diseases and descriptions on the growing of vegetables and fruit and nut trees. Expanded material on water efficiency, avoidance of weedy plants and of toxic herbicides appears in this new edition, as does additional information on legumes, plant nutrients and propagation. Pages of colour photographs bring a welcome visual element to the book.

Murray D, 2006; Successful Organic Gardening; Kangaroo Press, Pymble. ISBN 0 7318 1267 0 Also by David Murray: Seeds of Concern: The Genetic Manipulation of Plants (2003) and Peas and Beans.

Published by the Seed Savers’ Network, this is a complete, 180 page reference to growing, processing and conserving 117 food plants. The manual is all community gardeners need to learn to process, store and save seed.

$25 a copy. $75 for five copies for your community garden.

Local Seed Network Manual All you need to know to start and manage a local seed network in your community garden and participate in the preservation, through use and exchange, of our food plants.

$20 a copy, posted.

Both titles from: The Seed Savers’ Network, PO Box 975, Byron Bay NSW 2481.

Rosemary’s seed manual for developing country gardeners I n 2 0 0 2 , Ro s e m a r y Morrow wrote The Family Seed Saving Book for seed savers in developing countries.

Biologist and author, David Murray

Illustrated with line drawings and with clearly written instructions, the little manual was produced in limited edition.

SUMMER 2007— COMMUNITY harvest


The tang of TOMATILLOS

I NOTICED TOMATILLOS in the Summer 2006 Diggers Club catalogue and had to try them. Otherwise known as Mexican Green Tomato or Husk Tomatoes they are actually a closer relative to the Cape Gooseberry than tomatoes. But as we add tomatoes to our salsa, Mexicans add the tomatillo, so I assume that, hence, came the name. So bewitched was I by its beautiful purple tinged lanterns and unique flavour that it is now a staple in both my summer vegetable garden and our primary schools kitchen garden, where the children spend their lunchtimes searching for the distinctive swollen lanterns to pick for a refreshing snack. One plant is enough for a multitude of meals each autumn — in my experience ripening about the same time as eggplants in Melbourne. Tomatillos are truly an abundant bush and incredibly easy to grow with, seemingly, no pests and diseases. The tomatillo comes in the usual green or, for those who love the exotic, in deep purple. Once the papery husk has been filled and split, the tomatillo is ready to eat. Peel the husk and wash well to remove the sticky residue, then eat as is or prepare according to a tried and tested Mexican recipe. We use them instead of tomatoes in salsa and in the following sauce for quesadillas, enchiladas or tamales.

Tomatillo Sauce •

tomatillos, 350 grams

jalapeno peppers, 2 stemmed

onions, 1 peeled and quartered

garlic, 4 cloves, peeled

vegetable oil, 1 tbsp

coriander, 1/2 cup leaves and stems, chopped

chicken stock, 1 1/2 cups or vege stock

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Grill tomatillos, jalapenos, onion and garlic in skillet, occasionally turning to toast all sides, for about 5 minutes. Ingredients will blacken in places (this is a good thing). Remove from skillet and put into a blender, add cilantro and puree until smooth. Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Pour puree into pan and cook, stirring constantly, until it darkens in colour, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, season with salt and pepper and lower heat to medium low. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens.

...Linda Shewan, parent volunteer, Permaculture Site Design and Development, Gisborne Montessori School


SUMMER 2007— COMMUNITY harvest


NSW Russ Grayson, Media Liaison Sydney southside: Michael Neville

• Hunter region: Rob Henderson:

• Albury-Wodonga: Rebecca Chettleburgh:

TASMANIA Miriam Hetzfeld:

QUEENSLAND Morag Gamble: Northey Street City Farm:

SOUTH AUSTRALIA claire fulton, Adelaide:

VICTORIA Ben Neil, Cultivating Community


FIND info... Community gardens directory: Australian Community Foods:

Farmers markets:

Seed Savers Network:

ACFCGN newsletter Summer 2007  
ACFCGN newsletter Summer 2007  

Community HARVEST is the magazine of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network