November is the second national Urban Agriculture Month. It’s a month that showcases the richness of Australia’s urban agriculture movement and includes open gardens, workshops, tours and communal feasts. Led by Sustain: the Australian Food Network, this year’s theme is “Growing Edible Towns and Gardens”.
Whether you have your own garden or not, joining your local community garden is one of the best ways you can get involved in urban food growing. There are currently 15 community gardens in the Inner West and we spoke to two of them about their experiences of communal gardening. If you want to contact the gardens and join a working bee, click on the link which will take you to their information page.
Punch Park Community Garden is in Wortley Street Balmain, next to the Punch Park tennis courts. Carla Pasqualini shared her thoughts below:
“One of the first things I discovered when I moved to Balmain about seven years ago was the community garden. My mum is an avid gardener, heading out with her coffee in hand first thing in the morning, and I definitely caught that bug. Living in an apartment, the garden is a place where I can get my hands into the soil, watch plants grow and weed – yes weeding is my meditation. It’s also very social. It’s an open garden with beds that connect into the rest of the Punch Park area, so people are always wandering through, looking at what’s new, sharing tips or questions. The best part is watching the kids’ faces light-up when they find that bright red strawberry or ripe blueberries, it’s like a treasure hunt.
Punch Park Gardens has been around since 2014, and the plantings change depending on the members. Our ‘crew’ has planted up a mix of flowers for our pollinators, bees and butterflies, and some of their favourites. For example, we have a lovely crop of snow peas, a collection of herbs that we dip into as needed, warrigal greens (an Australian edible native), tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, sweet potato, chard and other spring crops.
We’re pesticide free, so it’s a bit hit and miss with what makes it into our kitchens, but that’s part of it. We also use tank water, have worm farms and compost everything. Basically, we don’t bring much in and don’t generate any waste. It works well in an urban setting.
One of our newest members described it as a “little bit of paradise”, taking us away from our screens, getting us outdoors, connecting us to nature and each other. I think that sums up community gardens nicely.”
Denison Road Community Garden is at 194 Denison Road, Dulwich Hill.
“Denison Road Community Garden is now 8 years old, having opened in 2014. It’s located on a very pleasant neighbourhood road and was established with the support of Inner West Council. Its purpose is to create a place where local residents can grow vegetables and herbs and develop friendships that strengthen community ties. It is an opportunity to learn sustainable and organic gardening practices, such as composting and companion planting.
Part of the garden’s sustainability practice is the usage of recyclable materials wherever possible, to build-up the garden. We have wicking beds to enhance the garden’s water efficiency. A mixture of veggies and herbs are seasonally grown and it’s rewarding to harvest and share produce with other fellow garden members.
The garden comprises raised beds which are communal and we’re always happy to have new members.
Involvement in the garden is an opportunity to participate in garden maintenance, to share knowledge, exchange ideas and gardening tips or just have a dig!”
For those of you who’d like to know more about growing organic food and making the most of your harvest join one of Green Living Centre’s upcoming workshops:
- Introduction to organic gardening on Saturday 12 November
- Whole plant cooking on Wednesday 16 November
- Food forest tour and guild planting on Saturday 19 November
More resources and ways to get involved in sustainable food systems:
- Listen to In the Garden, a podcast celebrating 25 years of Whites Creek Community Garden produced by Ang Collins, artist-in-residence at Whites Creek Cottage.
- Listen to the GLC’s 2020 podcast on sustainable food systems with Costa Georgiadis, Patrice Newell, and Manu Prigioni. Discussion was around creating more climate resilient food growing systems including biodynamics, regenerative agriculture and farm share arrangements like Farm it Forward.
- Join the conversation and find out more about Sydney’s food systems at the Sydney Urban Agriculture Forum on Friday 11 November.
- Start composting or worm farming at your place, or join Compost Collective for communal composting.
- Learn to save seeds and find other local seed savers through the Seed Savers Network.
- Join Rozelle Organic Buyers Group to assist community supported agriculture.
- Share your locally grown food at a crop swap. Find the next swap at Crop Swap Sydney.
- Reduce your food waste with the help of these tips and webinars.
Photo credit: The last four photos are ©Photo by Matthew Duchesne