All aboard the garden bus!

Howling winds and sudden downpours couldn’t keep a busload of keen Adelaide gardeners away from community gardens on the first of October. Organised by Jo Staniforth of Kitchen Gardens SA, this was a bus tour that criss-crossed our fair city much as the rainclouds and sunbursts chased one another across the sky.

We were treated to tours and local hospitality at four relatively new gardens: Prospect, Henley Beach, Walyo Yerta in the South Parklands, and Linde at Stepney. Each of these gardens has been established for three years or less, and all are remarkable for how much they have achieved in this time. Thankfully, fine breaks allowed us to explore all the gardens in between the showers.

PROSPECT

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Prospect Community Garden’s extensive composting system.
This garden is built on a former council nursery site.

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Garden coordinator Alan Shepard explains the development of the garden.
In the background is the 100+ year-old glasshouse awaiting funds for restoration.

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Garden members enthusiastically propagate plants
for the garden and for sale in this shadehouse

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Children’s corner featuring teepees, scarecrow, espaliered trees and various basketry sculptures

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Littlest visitor inspects the bathtub worm farms

HENLEY BEACH

All leapt aboard the bus as the heavens opened, and set off to this beachside garden, which is amazingly less than a year old. It has moved from a nearby school to its own independent new home and hit the ground running! Morning tea featured herbs from the garden in delicious scones… many thanks to the garden members for their hospitality 🙂

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In both this garden and Prospect, irrigation is delivered from rainwater tanks
via a low-pressure, solar-powered system to soaker hoses in the garden beds.
It takes a bit of setting up but members have been very happy with the result.

The Henley Beach garden is home to many companion flowers such as marigolds, nasturtiums and great banks of sweet peas…all of which make for a thriving population of beneficial native insects.

WALYO YERTA

This is a small, open garden which thrives in the midst of Adelaide’s South Parklands, where the council horticulture workers, who have their depot nearby, had predicted vandalism and defeat. Three years on, it’s going strong. There are no tanks or sheds, but a lockable tool box with a lid that doubles as notice board can be accessed by members any time. Regular gardening sessions are held several times a week, and informal meetings once a month. Members are mostly residents of the south-west corner of the city, and while people come and go more frequently through this urban setting, an open, flexible approach to sharing the space and the produce seems to have been very successful. Two local primary schools have classes here regularly, sharing plots with other gardeners. Considering the extent of Adelaide’s Parklands, perhaps there is scope for more of these community-building patches here and there!

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The toolbox that doubles as a garden shed and notice board

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Mulberry trees were transplanted here when another area of Parklands was redeveloped. Three have done well, and other fruit trees have since been planted in the lawns surrounding the garden. It is encouraging to see how this garden has been treated with such respect in an area where many expected it to succumb to vandalism. Is it possible that boring, unproductive spaces are more likely to be damaged?

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Raised beds constructed from recycled plastic sleepers (many with built-in seating),
and to the right, a frame for an arbour using star droppers, polypipe arches and a mesh roof.
A very adaptable design for sitting areas, chook enclosures etc, and suitable
to grow climbing vegetables, fruiting vines and ornamental plants.

LINDE

The Linde Community Garden in Stepney is on the site of a former disabled bowling green, and tucked in between industrial buildings, a child care centre and a revamped reserve. Again most garden beds are communal, with the exception of beds that have been tended by a local playgroup and a mental health group.

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Sawdust paths allow rainwater to penetrate to the soil, and encourage earthworm activity in the garden. They are delightfully quiet and soft to walk on. The shed under construction needs some willing builders to help complete it, which will in turn free up the adjacent area for more gardening!

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Here in Warradale, in the south-west of Adelaide, we look forward to implementing some of the lessons learned from the 50+ existing community gardens in SA, as we work with the Marion Council towards developing a community garden in our local park. The aim here is to link the kindergarten with all generations of local people, with all levels of gardening experience, reduce social isolation, enhance the park, and share food growing skills. To paraphrase Michael Dwyer of Glenelg North Community Garden, in community gardens, ‘Community’ comes before ‘Garden’… and that’s where the emphasis needs to be.

Our tour confirmed that not only do communities create great gardens, but gardens help to create great communities.

Kitchen Gardens SA has contact details of the gardens featured on the tour and the many others in SA, in this map, along with a blog, regular newsletter and range of workshops for adults and children.

To be involved in Warradale’s proposed community garden please contact Nadja on 0410636857 or at nadjasgarden@gmail.com. And keep an eye on my facebook page for updates including community garden open days around Adelaide!

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This entry was posted in community, events, hanging out in the garden, raised garden beds, resilient gardening, spring. Bookmark the permalink.

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