Environmental activism comes in many shapes and sizes. Some participate in protest marches, petitions and political campaigns, while others volunteer for local tree plantings, clean-up projects or recycling. Back in 2009, a small group of Holdfast Bay activists set about creating a local community garden. They organised public meetings, drew up a constitution, became incorporated, obtained insurance and petitioned the local council to provide land. Despite delays, frustrations and conflict, their determination endured.
Three years later a land site and funding were made available, the construction work began and the garden was established. It aims to promote environmental sustainability by providing education in organic gardening and a welcoming, communal space to grow organic fruit and vegetables. Since this garden follows organic gardening principles, there is no use of chemical pesticides, fungicides or fertilisers not certified for organic use by a recognised certifier.
Members can hire plots for 6 months at a time to grow produce for their own use. The cost is low – $40 for a large family plot and $20 for smaller plots. There are also several community raised beds in which any member can plant and harvest. A potting shed, covered with 50% shade cloth, provides a warm and sunny micro climate to raise spring seedlings.
Compost bays are used to recycle organic material, including weeds, on site. They also provide free mulch and soil building material for the vegetable beds and fruit trees. Rain water tanks, irrigation systems and practices aim to conserve water. Crop-rotation plots, consisting of four raised beds, are used to demonstrate how to rotate seasonal plantings to avoid pest buildup and nutrient depletion.
Members pay a $10 annual fee and enjoy the benefits of garden facilities, gardening workshops, social gatherings, insurance, water and tools. There is also the option of joining special interest groups including a fruit tree and garden art group.
The garden can be accessed at any time and hosts special activity days on Thursdays and Saturdays, from 9.30am to 1.30 pm. Members are expected to attend at least one activity day every two months to ensure a fair contribution to general garden maintenance. The activities include building raised beds, weeding, planting, propagating, raising seedlings, mulching, making compost and general garden maintenance.
There is always time made for socialising during the activity days, as well as planned social gatherings around the barbecue on special occasions. Meetings are held on the second Monday of the month, at 7 pm, in the Community Centre rooms located near the garden. These meetings are open to the public and include an educational workshop or guest speaker. Garden members also host a Community Swap and Share on Thursdays from about 9.30 am to 1pm.
A valuable source of education, productive activity and social networking, this community garden owes its existence to a handful of determined and passionate people who not only nurture the cultivation of organic produce, but also promote sustainability and community spirit.