How they work
A community garden is a place where people come together to grow fresh vegetables, share gardening knowledge, make new friends, and take part in a creative outdoor activity.
The land is often divided into separate plots, with plots allocated to individuals or groups. The produce grown in community gardens is for personal or shared use, not for commercial sale.
Gardens are managed and maintained by a community gardens group that consists of interested members of the local community. People wanting to use the community garden will need to be a member of the group. Plots can be allocated to individuals or organisations, and are maintained and planted by the group members.
Often gardens have a list of people waiting for an allocated plot to become available. To manage this waiting list, some community gardens also provide ‘walk in’ garden areas which can be used by individuals. In some cases a number of garden beds may be allocated for use of nearby public housing tenants.
The City of Yarra includes some of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs. Many of these are former industrial areas, which means some soil in these areas may still contain contaminants that make it unsuitable for planting food crops because of the long-term health risk.
If a garden is set up on one of these sites, fresh soil is put into built-up garden beds (separated from the base soil) to provide clean soil for planting into. Any community garden established in Yarra is assessed, and the appropriate work carried out, to ensure the site is safe for planting food.
Some community gardens have garden taps connected to the mains water supply – these are subject to the same water restrictions as residential properties. They are allocated as either even or odd numbered properties. Where possible, they also include rainwater tanks to harvest water from shelters on site, or neighbouring buildings.
Fencing community gardens manages access to the area. It prevents dogs from getting into garden beds, and provides a deterrent to vandalism of the gardens.
Fencing can be designed to reflect the character of the surrounding area. Gates can be kept unlocked when gardeners are present to encourage general enjoyment of the gardens by all.
Generally, locally based vegetable gardening is more environmentally friendly than buying vegetables from the local supermarket. Growing vegetables yourself generally requires less water, pesticides, fertilizer and herbicides. Locally produced food also reduces the pollution created when food is transported around the country.
Urban Agriculture Facilitator
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