South Side Story: Edmonton Community Garden

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Edmonton Community Garden

The Edmonton Community Garden inside the grounds of Sugarworld Botanic Gardens is the result of a collaboration between former Division 2 Councilor Nancy Lansky and local resident Peter Firth.

Peter had previously worked in the UK and was impressed with the allotment systems administered by local councils which allowed residents a plot of land on which to grow vegetables or graze small numbers of stock. The system originated from a centuries old practice, dating back to the 1500’s.

When Peter came back to Australia, the seeds of an idea had been planted.

Some years later, it was during a chance discussion between Nancy and Peter at an Australia Day celebration that the establishment of a local community-based garden was first raised. Public meetings were held, local residents were consulted, a community group was formed and a management committee elected.

Several potential sites were then investigated and in 2008, Nancy took her support for the garden project to Council. A motion was passed allowing the garden to be built on an unused site within the Sugarworld Gardens precinct.

Fences were built, water access was provided and a Gambling Community Benefit Fund grant supported the construction of a shed.

And so a community garden was born.

Since then, there has been a wonderful cross section of people growing food in their own particular way. There are organic gardeners, permaculture gardeners, gardeners growing New Guinea, Pacific and Asian produce for their family and friends. There are gardeners growing vegetables new to the tropics. All under the gaze of a century old Lychee tree planted by the original Chinese gardeners in the area.

For many people, the community garden has become an important part of their everyday routine. Some find solace and comfort in tending their plots and others have the enjoyment of just being outdoors. A local primary school has even used the site to educate their students about food growing.

The garden has bought together families, empty-nesters and single people alike, all of diverse ages and cultural backgrounds. It provides a place where there is common ground for sharing and learning. New members are always welcome, membership fees start at $20.00 per year.

Peter says that with the population growth in the southern suburbs, projects like this can be a crucial part of developing a sense of community and supporting well-being.

He is very proud that in a little over a decade the garden has turned a previously unused piece of land into a vibrant and productive block that is a real asset to the local community.