News & Events

New garden to grow community

November 19, 2019

OCAV’s Leith Park residents can grow their own vegetables and make their own compost thanks to an environmental grant from Banyule City Council.

The $7800 grant means raised garden beds, compost bins and worm farms can be established throughout the Leith Park village at St Helena. The garden beds will be managed by small groups of keen gardeners.

OCAV’s CEO Phillip Wohlers said the new garden would not only provide fresh food for residents, but would create important social hubs in the village, particularly for newcomers.

“We know from the success of our edible garden at Currie Park in Euroa that many friendships and connections are made at the communal as people work alongside each other,” Phillip said. “Moving to a new community can be difficult for many people, but a communal garden provides a ready made point of interest.”

“The gardens will also provide a wonderful opportunity for people who may have wanted to garden but never had the space. Importantly you don’t have to be a good gardener to join in because we will be running workshops.”

More than half the 137 people living at Leith Park were homeless or vulnerably housed in the private rental market prior to living with OCAV, so gardening could be a new experience for many.

The development of the new edible garden will be accompanied by a series of workshops where residents will learn more about sustainability, how to develop good compost, and what food grows best in that area.

It is anticipated that communal cook-ups will be held once the garden starts to produce food for residents.

“This project will provide up to 137 members of the Leith Park community with the resources and the skills to become environmental stewards in growing sustainable produce,” Phillip said.

An important aspect of the new development will be the compost bins and workshops, which will support residents to recycle food waste and see how it can contribute to their garden.

The grant was sought in response to requests from the residents keen to see a communal garden developed. The 33 people coming into Leith Park’s new development do not have garden space enjoyed by many of the earlier residents.

The communal garden plan involves:
–       installation of 10 garden beds
–       establishing composting bins and worm farms for food and paper waste
throughout the village
–       Purchasing tools and fertilizer
–       Dividing garden beds into five zones and supporting the recruitment of a resident coordinator for each zone
–       Supporting residents to choose seedlings and plant them
–       Supporting the coordination and administration of workshops in gardening education
–       Identifying residents with expertise to share
–       Supporting the organisation of communal cook-ups for residents to come together and enjoy a meal made with garden produce.

“Our home has always been a place where family and friends are welcome.  Our cottage at Rushall Park is no different and the community of friends here is important to us and that’s why their work is part of my art box,” Jennifer Barden said.

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