What is a community garden?
Community Gardens involve the collective gardening of a single piece of land by a community group. Community Gardens can be established on privately owned land or on land owned and / or managed by Council.
Community Gardens can be based on a shared model where planting and harvesting is carried out communally or on an allotment model where individuals are allocated a space within the garden to cultivate produce for their own use or for sharing and swapping with other gardeners.
The Benefits of Community Gardens
Community gardens offer many benefits, from providing a place for those who otherwise would not have the space or opportunity to grow food to helping city people reconnect with nature.
Gardening in communities also encourages fitness, sharing of healthy seasonal fresh vegetables and fruit, increased social interaction and sense of community belonging, and increased gardening knowledge and expertise.
Community gardens can also contribute to urban improvement by greening otherwise vacant lots, diversifying the use of open space and increasing plant diversity which can expand the habitat for urban wildlife.
The City of Darebin has over 9 community gardens and the neighbouring municipalities of Yarra, Moreland and Banyule have many more. Each has different management structures and ways of operation – contact the individual community garden (see List of Darebin Community Gardens) to find out more about how they operate and how you can get involved.
Starting a community Garden
There is much to consider when planning a community garden. There’s the suitability of the identified site from a soil quality, aspect, topography and accessibility to water perspective but even more important is the ‘community’ part of community gardens. In other words the relationship with the community in which the garden is located. Despite the increasing evidence of the environmental, social and economic benefits of community gardens, some community members may object to the proposal for a new community garden. The reasons proffered may include that gardens are untidy, they attract vandals or vermin or that they take away open space for the whole to benefit a few.
The importance of the community building ground work at the start of the community garden project cannot be underestimated. The Resource section of this website provides some links to excellent guides and resources for how to start and maintain a community garden effectively.