gardens that grow food and fellowship
Despite our increasing urbanisation, there is a trend towards growing our own food, and this trend is facilitated by community gardens. Community gardens allow people who don’t have the space at home, to get the benefits and pleasures of having a garden.
There are hundreds of community gardens in Australia and the numbers are increasing yearly, so if you’re interested in joining one, there is likely a community garden near you.
Joining a community garden is a great way to combine getting outdoors and meeting new people with growing some of your own produce and saving money at the same time.
If you’re new to gardening, joining a community garden is also a great way to learn the skills and techniques of gardening.
How community gardens work
Community gardens are organised as either:
- a shared space, where everyone works on the whole garden doing what is needed at the time and sharing the produce
- allotment gardens, where each person or family are responsible for their own garden bed and keep the produce they grow. Allotment holders are usually expected to help maintain the common areas also.
- or often, a combination of both.
To find a community garden near you, start at this directory or Google community gardens for your state.
Community gardens offer more than just a space to grow your own produce. Many incorporate one or more of the following:
- Ornamental and native plants
- Cooking facilities and shared meals
- Arts in the garden: either workshops, sculptures or displays.
- Quiet corners
- Community education: workshops on various skills like gardening, cooking, water conservation composting, recycling etc.
- School programmes
- Farmer’s Markets
Community gardens are a great way to become more involved with your local community and to meet new people.
“we have a monthly meeting… and at the end of the meeting we have a lunch that is based on whatever is currently in the garden — we use the garden produce as much as we can. We extend the gardening experience to actually preparing the food, and that’s very popular”.
No space to grow, no community garden? A third alternative.
I live in a block of townhouses. At the end of the driveway is a barren patch of garden. One enterprising neighbour suggested we turn this garden into a communal vegie patch. This suggestion has the dual benefit of getting to know the people we share our extended living space with as well as having some of our own organic produce to eat.
If you’re short on space or don’t have access to a community garden, turning common areas where you live into productive gardens is a another alternative. You will need to consult your neighbours and probably gain body corporate approval to do this.
Community gardens provide both an alternative to small space urban gardens as well as compliment them. Why not grow some herbs on your balcony along with the more space loving pumpkins at your garden plot?
The Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network website includes resources for community gardens and home gardeners alike. If you’re interested in starting your own community garden, this website provides fact sheets and information to help get you started.
If you’ve arrived at this page via a search engine, your missing out on the complete Frugal and Thriving Newsletter series. The theme for 2011: An urban dweller’s guide to frugal living. To read the rest of this newsletter and previous newsletters you can sign up for the free newsletter here.