Often when walking around my neighbourhood I see run down weatherboards on big old blocks being knocked down to be replaced with paving and crowded townhouses. In a place where there were grapevines and fruit trees there are now black bricks and white stones. While that's not necessarily a bad thing (if it saves precious farmland further out) it seems a waste. I also look at some of the neglected or barren gardens of remaining homes and think that only people with a 'gardening liceense' (the enthusiasm and the willingness) to make the most of their land should be able to own the land that they do.
Constrained by my own limited patch shaded by trees (wildlife habitat) I have been thinking how to start my own suburban garden revolution. Here is the start of my journey.
This is the council owned block on land at the end of my ROW. The land used to be a road that ran through between two streets (where the silver shed is now). For years it has languished as a dumping ground and car park. The land can't be developed (council has tried that) because there are issues with access the ROW and the main sewer line that runs down it.
|Lets turn this........|
A little over year ago I decided I couldn't keep sitting around while there was a patch of unused gravel with vegetable growing potential. So I created a flyer outlining my vision for our very own neighbourhood community garden.
The coordinator told me that anyway before any further decisions could be made by the council, the first priority was creating a 'Community Garden Policy' and this would most likely go to council in February. February came and went. The council meeting minutes said policy deferred until April. I can't remember what happened in April, but finally I got an invitation to attend a community gardens meeting. Probably the most tedious two hours of my life (will spare you the details) but the outcome being that council has realised people are interested in growing food on their nature strips so they decided to fund a 'planter box trial' for vegies in two suburban streets.There was no info on how the locations would be decided but thanks to a bit of extra persistence from some of the other interested neighbours, council decided that given the block was technically a 'roadside' they considered that a planter trial might be the best option. (this would also avoid the need for the incorporated association)
One more tedious 'community planter box trial' meeting and a rather interesting site meeting with local residents and it looks like council is funding the installation of eight professionally built planter boxes and a water tank to be topped up by council as required. (Individual residents had to fill out a planter box application forms and liability waiver and agree to abide by the planter box regulations- in order to maintain the planter maximum height restrictions no plants over 50cm high!).
I should be excited..... but somehow I feel a little deflated about my grand visions...if we are serious about transforming suburbs back into the food producing areas they once were......should it really take one person one year....and council a few thousand dollars (??) just to get eight planter boxes placed on a vacant block?!
Only time will tell what happens... will the garden grow and flourish, will the rest of the neighbours get involved or complain to council that they can no longer park there cars on the block... will I have a space to expand my vegie garden challenge without people stealing the spoils.... I don't know but I will keep you updated.