Community Gardening is a growing revolution across the world. Every time I turn on the radio, I hear something about people reconnecting with and taking responsibility for their sustenance and food choices, and community gardens are often at the center of this movement, along with permaculture, organics and, dare I say it, the Transition Movement.
We have a solid history of community gardening in Australian with amazing places like CERES in Melbourne and Northey Street a bit closer to home in Brisbane.
Changing climate, increased uncertainty about what is in our food and where it is coming from and the ever increasing health issues we see around us every day are driving forces behind this change. There are many other reasons to turn to local food supply (and what is more local than a community garden you can walk to – except your back yard, which is the next part of the equation).
Rockhampton region already has a number of community gardens, based on a variety of models and experiencing a variety of success. We plan to add to this number through the establishment of a garden at Lucas Park, in Armstrong Street, North Rockhampton.
But more than that, we have a vision for a community garden network that promotes and supports community gardens across the region, with hub gardens and smaller satellite gardens, right down to gardens on traffic islands and road verges (Costa’s new favourite!), and maybe some guerrilla gardening, but we’ll keep that under our hats for now.
We see these gardens as places where people can meet to –
- Grow food
- Share resources
- Share knowledge
Some of the fundamental principles of community gardens are –
Local – Lolo Houbein (author of One Magic Square) believes community gardens should only serve a catchment of 1km(square). They should be in easy walking distance of their catchment area so that people don’t have to drive to them. Which means there needs to be lots of them! (Lolo also wants to see every one of Australia’s 5 million backyards growing at least some of their own food – but that is another story for another day…)
Organic – this is a must. For nutrition and health, but also for environmental reason including reduced greenhouse emissions and reduced use of non-renewable resources that most non-organic farming relies on.
Sustainable – reducing the use of new inputs, ensuring that the garden in managed in a sustainable way from a social, financial and environmental perspective. This needs to be an holistic approach.
Permaculture principles are a natural fit for achieving goals around sustainability and organic garden by providing a framework that makes the most of the resources available.
Community Driven – these gardens must be driven by the local community to guarantee their ongoing support and development
Connecting –community gardens provide a place for people to connect with their community, as individuals and groups. Groups such as Lawn to Lunch are an important aspect of this.
I have been receiving emails from Lawn to Lunch for a couple of years, but I am yet to make it to a meeting. I have, however, already met several amazing people connected to the group and we would love to draw on the collective knowledge, ideas and advice you might be able to provide to us in the establishment and operation of our garden in Armstrong Street.
We have a working group of four dedicated people, and have mapped out a bit of a path forward but would love your advice and ideas in relation to the site so that we can make the most of both the physical establishment of the garden and the process itself, and hopefully make a solid connection that will benefit both groups for years to come.