Sunday, February 12, 2012

West Brunswick Community Garden has a future and we're excited to be helping

An update for you on what's happening with the West Brunswick Community Garden.

Council had a good response to their invitation for expressions of interest which is really heartening and supports their decision to find a solution that will keep this garden going. It also reinforces our sense of a building interest in gardening in the community.

Last Wednesday night's Moreland City Council meeting saw a report on the submissions from various groups interested in managing the garden.

The big news for our group is that we've been asked to manage the West Brunswick Community Garden! Council felt that our proposal best addressed the criteria they set down and so they recommended we be given a 12 month lease on the garden with options to extend from there.

We were thrilled that council liked our proposal and the ideas we put forward. We're grateful to the councillors who spoke in favour of the proposal (almost all of them did).

Last July, Moreland lost one of its few community gardens when a long established horticultural therapy garden closed and a key aim of ours in proposing to manage the West Brunswick garden was to ensure it didn't close too, in fact to help it to thrive, grow, get better and welcome more people. In the long run, if we want more community gardens in Moreland, places like this need to work, so let's make it work.

Strong Feelings
Saying this, the people at the garden now must be disappointed that they needed to approach council for help. I'm sure they didn't expect things to play out the way they have. At the council meeting, a couple of people spoke passionately about their attachment to the garden and how worried they were about the future.

There's no avoiding the fact that there will be change. Not everyone wants this change but everyone wants the garden to be around into the future and for that to happen, change must come.

We hope we can work to keep as many of the current members as possible and it's worth highlighting a few things that might make it less of a worry for them:

  • Our suggested selection criteria for plot holders gives some weight to volunteer history with the garden,
  • We aim to make sure that all that gardening know-how doesn't leave the garden,
  • We'll work hard (and raise money) to improve the facilities in the garden,
  • This garden will only survive with effort and co-operation from everyone - current and future members as well as council,
  • Council will help us all with the language challenge and will be checking in after 3 months to see how things are going.

What's Next
We've already chatted with some of the current garden management and in the coming weeks, we'll work out the next steps with council.

In the future, there will be plenty of room for all who want to be involved with:

  • allotments for individual or household use, 
  • shared communal growing space, 
  • learning/teaching/gathering space.

So for anyone who's excited about the opportunity these developments represent stay tuned and we'll be in touch once we know what those next steps are.

(If you can't wait to express your excitement, drop us an email or add your comments below.)