Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Road Trip Reveals Ways for Growth

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Road Trip Reveals Ways for Growth

Article excerpt

LAST month, Steve McGrane, president of the Coffs Harbour Regional Community Gardens Association and a team of fellow gardeners headed north for a few daysa exploration.

They were on a mission to visit half a dozen community gardens between here and Brisbane, in order to see what others were doing, learn from their experiences, and lay down a vision and goals for the Coffs garden at Combine St over the next few years.

The trip exceeded all expectations.

aIt was amazing to visit so many community gardens in such a short space of time. There were such big contrasts,a said Matt Downie, co-ordinator of the Combine St garden.

Among the lasting impressions the team took home, the presence of garden art, such as murals, sculptures, ceramic displays and decorative signage, was especially striking. Clear noticeboards introducing the garden and its key people, as well as tasks, projects and how to get involved, are also now on the Coffs to-do list.

Even though most of the gardens were thriving sites of diverse food production, the team felt it was the social aspects that were most important.

Community gardens are all about building community, and activities like swap meets where gardeners exchange surplus produce, is just one way in which this happens. They are also multi-functional sites with a strong educational focus, places where gardeners and visitors alike can get to know where their food comes from and rediscover their connection to it.

The team visited gardens in Lismore, Nimbin, Tuntable Falls, Mullumbimby, Northey St City Farm in Brisbane, the Seed Saversa Network in Byron Bay (run by Michel and Jude Fenton), and Yamba.

They also briefly stopped by the combined market and community garden run by Gold Coast Permaculture in Ferry Rd, Southport.

The gardens varied in longevity with Northey St, now in its 20th year, the oldest. One of its most attractive features, which makes it a great place to spend time, are the well-established fruit trees, such as large mangoes, that provide excellent shade areas, for meeting and socialising.

Most of the gardens were considerably younger. …

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