Friday, December 30, 2011

West Brunswick Community Garden: Now we wait....

Well, it's done.

After a flurry of activity in the last week, our Expression of Interest form for the management of the West Brunswick Community Garden has been submitted to Council.

Now we wait while a review of applications takes place and a preferred candiate is put forward to Council on 8th Feb for endorsement.

We're really excited by the possibilities that this garden represents. Fingers crossed!

If you're interested, here's an extract from the application describing how we see the garden space working.

"Community gardens employ various models for handling the allocation of gardening space to members. The two most common are allotment-based and communal gardens.

In an Allotment-based system, individuals garden their own plot. Members can be insular, tending only to their allocated space. These gardens can feel exclusive to people who must wait for a plot to become available. They can promote ownership and provide people with an opportunity to control what they want, to learn from mistakes and enjoy successes.

In Communal gardens everyone shares the produce as everyone shares the work. They can provide almost limitless opportunities for participation - there is always work to be done. These gardens can sometimes lack momentum and need strong gardening stewardship and can even suffer from a glut of food as no-one wants to take more than their share.

Both these styles would have a portion of the garden allocated for shared facilities (e.g. paths, composting, propagation, storage).

For the West Brunswick community garden we propose a blend of:

  • ⅓ allotments (allocated to an individual or household), 
  • ⅓ shared communal growing space with rotational system, 
  • ⅓ shared facilities, e.g. compost bays, propagation area, equipment storage , learning/teaching/gathering space, paths, 

Through this blend of space allocation we expect the benefits of both, with few of the problems. We will have the ownership and opportunity for individuality of an allotment system with the opportunity for participation, inclusion and shared responsibility that a communal garden offers.

We will also have a strong focus on all members maintaining the shared facilities. This would be a regular and required feature of membership.

In addition various infrastructure projects would be undertaken:

  • The perimeter fence will be replaced with a lower fence similar to that at Merri Corner Community Garden and if possible, will include a “living boundary” (made from trees and shrubs),
  • Fences will not be permitted around plots as experience suggests these lead to a closed and insular community garden,
  • Raised garden beds and stable paths will be built to provide accessibility in the mould of the now-closed Ilma Lever Garden,
  • New composting bays, shelter and storage facilities would be required.

Lastly, as our group is already involved with the food forest situated beside the community garden, we see a fantastic opportunity to bring these two urban food production facilities together.

The food forest is a natural fit with the community garden and would offer opportunities that would otherwise not be possible such as pruning of mature trees, demonstrating the principles of a food forest, sustainable gardening and so-on. Eventually maintenance and management of the forest could be overseen by community garden members.