Community gardens are places where people grow and harvest food together.
They provide land for people who don’t have their own garden to grow organically, and create hubs for sharing skills and building community.
What is a community garden?
A community garden is a place where people come together to grow food co-operatively, exchange ideas, skills and knowledge, and create a community around food growing, harvesting and sharing. It is run on principles of harmony, fair-mindendness and goodwill amongst the garden members. A community garden offers many benefits such as:
• helping the family budget by growing fruit and vegetables for home consumption
• providing land for people who don’t have their own garden
• a place to grow using organic principles avoiding the use of pesticides, herbicides and artifical fertilisers
• using otherwise idle land
• creating a hub for building community
• providing therapeutic activities and an outlet for hurt and injured people.
Food has always been central to any community and is a prime reason for people to come together to celebrate the seasons, the providence of the earth, culture and community.
Types of community gardens
Community gardens can be owned by the government, schools, churches, and even private land-holders. There are two main types of community garden:
• community or allotment gardens: individuals or families each have their own garden bed within a larger area containing garden beds used by other people.
• communal or shared gardens: gardeners work jointly on the same bed, make decisions together, do whatever work needs to be done at the time (working bees), and work out how to share the produce.
All community gardens have communal assets such as paths, gates, fences, signs and watering systems. Communal areas often include such things as:
• garden shed for communal & private tools
• compost heaps
• seed-saving plots
• fruit trees
• herb gardens
• shrubs for birds
• a chicken run.
The community aspect comes from the co-operative and collective use, maintenance and development of the communal areas.
Benefits of community gardens
Getting involved in a community garden is great for many reasons:
• gain a sense of achievement by growing your own fresh food
• meet and make friends with like-minded people in the neighbourhood
• learn about gardening from experienced people
• exchange gardening and food tips and find solutions to gardening troubles
• share and swap your produce with other gardeners
• get involved in collective decision-making and co-operation
• help conserve the environment and contribute to dealing with climate change
• release the stresses of busy everyday life
• get some exercise, fresh air and sun!
How can I get involved?
Many suburbs and towns around Australia have community gardens, and if not, you may be able to start your own. For general information go to the Australian City Farm & Community Gardens Network (ACFCGN)
The number of gardens in Australia is growing steadily and you may not need to look very far. Here are just a few examples:
The Canberra Organic Growers Society (COGS) who run 12 gardens in Canberra: www.cogs.asn.au
The City of Sydney which has 18 community gardens and 3 footpath gardens: www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/community/participation/community-gardens
Community Gardens in Western Australia: www.communitygardenswa.org.au
City of Port Phillip Community Gardens: www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/community_gardens.htm
Gold Coast City Council Parks: www.gcparks.com.au/activities.aspx?page=37
For further information on this topic contact
The Canberra Organic Growers Society
The Canberra Organic Growers Society was formed in 1977 with the aim of providing a forum for organic growers to exchange information and encourage the general public to adopt organic growing methods.
To contact the Canberra Organic Growers Society or find out more about courses and workshops visit their website at www.cogs.asn.au