If you're craving a farming experience, it's closer than you might think!
Brisbane is home to more than 30 flourishing community gardens and city farms, with interest in produce from our own backyard growing all the time. Our community gardens put a new meaning into 'home grown' and their increasing popularity was clear when so many of you asked for one to be included as part of the future Victoria Park.
The possibility of a community garden or small urban farm is now one of the most exciting inclusions in the Victoria Park Draft Vision (check out the video), but what exactly is all the fuss about and why do so many avid gardeners or wannabe green thumbs want to be part of them?
What exactly is a community garden?
Community gardens are areas of open space nestled amongst neighbourhoods, where passionate locals can come together to grow their own produce, learn about gardening and sustainable living, and hold workshops. Just about anything can be grown in community gardens, whether it be herbs, fruits or vegetables. Some gardens keep animals too, like chickens, ducks and bees!
These shared spaces make it possible for people who don’t have a garden of their own to get their hands dirty, are perfect for those wanting to learn more about growing food, and are even a great option for capable gardeners who simply want some company in the process.
Community gardens can be found across Brisbane in community centres and parks, or on school or church grounds. As the population continues to increase, rooftops are also starting to emerge as valuable spaces for community gardens.
Why the blooming interest?
Being part of a community garden can be an incredibly enriching experience. They bring together people from all walks of life and become community hubs, as everyone works together to grow food and share their knowledge and skills.
Aside from strengthening a sense of community and supporting a healthy lifestyle, community gardens are a great way for people to gain better insight to how they can live sustainably in an urban environment.
They can have local economic benefits too, providing financial opportunities like the sale of produce at farmers' markets, and even help the environment, reducing 'food miles' by increasing the amount of food produced closer to home.
Community gardens also create beautiful local landscapes for everyone in the neighbourhood to enjoy, whether you're a member of the garden or just appreciate it from afar.
Where do our gardens grow?
Northey Street City Farm in Windsor is one of the most popular community gardens in Brisbane. Established in 1994, it has grown over time to consist of more than 1500 plants and trees, which are all lovingly maintained by their members.
Their Education Manager, Ronni Martin, believes community gardens are becoming increasingly popular because people are wanting more control over the quality of their food.
"Community gardens are great assets to the community that will continue to grow in numbers but one of the main challenges to establishing them is finding suitable sites, which is why it’s so important they are considered when planning for future spaces," Ronni explained.
"Being part of one [community garden] not only gives people the chance to grow their own vegetables, they are also increasingly valuable as places to meet like-minded people and be part of a strong community.
"More and more, people also want to find practical ways to create sustainable lifestyles, and community gardens give them the information on ways to achieve them," said Ronni.
Do you want a city farm in Victoria Park?
The vision is for Brisbane to gain a new, green-thumb favourite community garden or small urban farm when Victoria Park is transformed into an amazing public parkland.
The garden is proposed to go in the southern side of the park, which offers the ideal spot to bring more farming to the city on a gentle sloping landscape. Better yet, the space will benefit from maximum sunshine thanks to a northern aspect, and its proximity to the edge of Victoria Park will make it easy to get there from surrounding neighbourhoods.
Gardeners will have the chance to share their healthy produce by selling it at a new farm gate, and will even be able to explore other interests, with the space offering room for beekeeping and composting facilities.
The Victoria Park Vision is expected to be finalised later this year.
Can’t wait to get started?
It’ll be a few years until the proposed community garden or city farm becomes part of Victoria Park, but in the meantime, you can get involved with an existing one near you. Find your nearest community garden here and get in touch with them directly to find out how you can get involved.