Meadows Community Association

Community Garden


Meadows Community Garden

Contact: Nick & Donna Mann

 

Community garden proposal

Overview

The possibility of a community garden was first raised, in March 2006 at a meeting of the Meadows and Districts Kindergarten governing council, as a way to develop closer ties with the local community.

Community gardens are a unique form of public open space that provide a forum where people can meet, share interests and ideas, and get involved in the local community. These gardens that are managed by communities can also provide a space for working with and learning from nature, growing fresh organic food, learning hands-on gardening skills and sustainability, creating and displaying community art. They can be a place of beauty to explore or sit down to relax and contemplate.

 

Aims and objectives

We will strive to create a unique meeting place with a community, educational and environmental emphasis that will bring people together to inspire them and develop concepts of pride, trust, respect and active participation needed to build and strengthen a sense of community.

 

Community Objectives

  • · to provide a friendly, safe and accessible open space, were people can meet and be involved in a variety of community-based activities;
  • · to improve and strengthen community pride and foster connections across differences like age and ability through shared involvement in the gardens activities;
  • · to create an environment for people to work cooperatively;
    • · to support and contribute to community-based sustainable economic development initiatives like the sale of fresh produce or commercial worm farming, etc.
    • · to provide a space to create and display community art, hold community events, celebrations and much more;

 

Educational Objectives

  • · to encourage a creative environment in which people can contribute their skills, learn from each other, and develop new skills and fresh ideas;
  • · to teach the principles of sustainability;
  • · to teach our children the importance of fresh, healthy locally grown food.

 

Environmental Objectives

  • · to encourage environmentally sound gardening practices such as organic gardening, recycling, composting and water recycling;
  • · to encourage an appreciation of the natural environment and an understanding for the need to protect what we have for future generations to enjoy;
  • · demonstrate practical solutions to the negative environmental impacts of commercial food production such as food miles, etc.
  • · to protect the genetic diversity of our food by introducing seed saving programs, etc;
  • · retirees in Meadows;
  • · aged residents in local low care units;
  • · Meadows Kindergarten and Primary School students;
  • · local unemployed;
  • · those rehabilitating from illness or injury;
    • · those in the general community who would like to offer to pass on their skills and knowledge or become involved in community projects.

Identified and Proposed Users include

Design Elements

The long-term vision is that the garden should

  • strive to be environmentally friendly, sustainable and educational;
    • have vegetable beds of various sizes for both individuals and groups and have raised beds to cater for people with disabilities;
    • have a storage area for materials and garden tools;
    • have a composting area and encourage recycling projects (including water recycling);
    • have a chicken coop and demonstrate the principles of organics and permaculture
      • have area to propagate seeds and to hold educational workshops and demonstrations;
      • have rainwater tanks installed to collect rainwater and grey water for garden use;
        • have an open space in which to hold group activities, artwork, places to sit to enjoy the ambience and BBQ facilities  

Difficulties and Solutions

Although there was a very good level of interest for a community garden in the area we had no funds or land to make it a reality. We applied for and received a community grant from the Mount Barker District Council. The preferred site for the garden is on council land so we are currently looking into the availability of that land and the impact on other community groups who may use it.

At times we have been frustrated with the amount of time it takes before any on-site work can commence, however we have tried to work through each problem as it arises, set priorities and act on them. We envisage other difficulties such as the lack of resources at our disposal, however we are confident we can rely on members of the local community, and possibly some Work for the Dole participants to achieve a great deal. We are also hopeful that some local businesses and individuals can be encouraged to donate materials or the use of small equipment for some aspects of the work.

We will need to ensure that people do not lose interest and drop out by including plenty of social get-togethers and informal events to balance the work activities.

That said, we continue to be encouraged by the level of support from many groups and individuals including the Meadows & Districts Kindergarten, Mount Barker District Council, Meadows Primary School, Meadows 150th committee, local businesses and community garden groups in other areas.

Next Steps

We have formed a focus group to look at various aspects of the project, including site identification and lease, garden design including supplying water and power to the site, funding options, governance issues and identification of likely key stakeholders and users. We are developing a master plan for the site, health and safety policies and procedures and training processes. We are also continuing to build relationships with community organizations, businesses and individuals and other interested group to ensure the sustainability of the project.

 

Planning priorities

Council owns the land we have identified as our preferred site and so our current priorities include getting approval to use that land, securing a lease preferably with 5 year renewal options, increasing the security of the garden by getting the garden written into Council’s Open Space Management Plan, Parks Schedule, or master plan. We also need to investigate public liability options, by asking DECS or Council if they would consider extending their own insurance to cover the garden.

 

Development priorities

We are aware that this project is a substantial undertaking and will take time, but we are confident that with the guidance of Council along with strong community involvement and support this project can achieve it’s full potential and can be developed into an asset for everyone in the community to enjoy.

To achieve our goals we intend to develop the garden in stages so it can evolve over time as resources and funding become available. This is a guide for staged development of the garden.

 

First stage

  • extending the kindergartens existing indigenous food garden;
  • constructing an entrance to the garden;
  • laying the first section of the main path from the entrance;

Second stage

  • ensuring the site has good drainage for excess water;
  • building raised garden beds in the vegetable and herb garden;
  • securing soil or compost material for the vegetable and herb gardens;
  • extending the pathway to other areas of the garden;
  • selecting and planting suitable native plants for the butterfly and frog garden;

Third stage:

  • further extension of pathway;
  • garden art and seating;
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