Starting a community Garden – By Gail Stubber
Mayo Community Garden – Or the start of a very long Journey – Gail Stubber
When a small number is some times just right.
Mayo Community Garden (CG) is a rarity in WA from what I understand. It has been done slightly back to front. The City of Nedlands approached its rate payers to see if they were interested in a Community Garden, offered them two sites to choose from and so far, have helped out with all the paper work. We are blessed. Mind you, the idea of the Community Garden did come from a day of community consultation in 2012 however they, Nedlands City Council (NCC), did follow through and we are the result.
Mayo CG is sited in the Swanbourne heritage precinct in a lovely area just off Allan Park, situated near the beach, a well established regenerated sand dune ridge and a cluster of wooden cottages – Tom Collins’ and Matty House being but two. We have water to the site and a very dodgy electrical cable that we have decided not to use just in case, but really, as far as setting up a Community Garden is concerned, we have been very lucky.
The site is our challenge. We are on a slope of about 1:8 that slopes towards the north east corner. The front of the site is flat because this is where the old Mayo House was sited before it burnt down, however, behind that is a good workout of a slope, especially with a wheel barrow, which culminates at the top corner with an old water tank.
The plan for the site has been an interesting development which seems to be happening in fits and starts. Initially there was discussion about breaking it up into plots with rectangles drawn on the page. Then Stephania, our brave person, spoke up and some organic shapes began to appear. The next phase was really what should have been done first, we walked the block and looked at the contours, the way the flow of the water was happening and what infrastructure we had on site and thought about keeping or losing. More organic designs have begun.
Next challenge, which will be upon us soon, is how to merge all the various designs we have let out of the box. Pizza ovens, frog ponds, raised beds, wheel chair friendly beds, limestone rock walls, railway sleeper plots, movable compost sites and chickens are a few ideas. Challenges of too plenty can be just as difficult as challenges of too few.
We are already Incorporated as a community association, which seemed a daunting task to people not really paperwork orientated but it was surprisingly easy.Just a matter of filling in all the paperwork as designated in the INC booklet and copying another groups rules, with a few modifications.This was one area that the Mayo CG group decided that keeping it simple was definitely the best way forward.
We have already applied for a grant to build all those wonderful ideas. We will know soon if it is going to happen and although it will not be anywhere enough for the plans, it will be enough to get us started towards our “garden”. The lack of money could also help us focus our plans and set up some good working targets.
This is really a bit of a rant for community gardens. What I am trying to say is that they are not as hard to get going as people think. You only need a willing council, a plot of land, eight good people with a lot of ideas who are willing to spend around 3 hours per week for 3 months to build the momentum. Like all community projects it is about momentum. As a committee member I sometimes fear that there never seems to be as many people as is wanted for each job but then I look at our group and the others who show up every now and then, and I realize we get enough to make it work. Sometimes enough is just right.
One of our plans – you gotta love the flowing lines for a community garden. The high ground is on the top of the page.