The Localist

Community gardening in Sydney

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What to do when you live in a small inner city apartment and you want to expand beyond growing little pots of basil and mint on a windowsill?

Increasingly I’ve been pulled into the idea of making more, consuming less. The past year has seen experimentations in making nut milk, fermenting vegetables, making bone broth, mastering the sewing machine, and more recently, making yoghurt (so easy!). Call me a hipster (or a hippy?) if you will, but it’s pretty fun just getting back to basics. Just when my mum thought it was pretty weird that I chose to make yoghurt when this was easily available at the supermarket*, I decided to venture into growing my own vegetables.

A little research on the wonderful world wide web brought me to the Paddington Community Garden, a lovely project initially set up by Rob and Vicki Joyner in the residential Sydney suburb of Paddington. Tucked away at the end of a street, sandwiched between tennis courts and a lawn bowls green, this garden is one of the most peaceful places I know in Sydney.

Following a series of induction sessions and successful application, members of the Paddington Community Garden are provided with their own plot to grow organic produce to their hearts’ content. Members are also assigned to communal team plots from which produce is shared amongst the members. Neighbours and local businesses are encouraged to drop off their food waste, which is then fed back into the garden compost bins. Delightful feasts made with produce grown from the garden and shared with members occurs monthly in the late afternoon sun, adding to the community spirit.

I recently had the luxury of taking some time off work. During this time I would wander down to the garden a few times a week just to get my hands into soil. Friends ask me how I know what to do – and the answer is I don’t really, which is why it’s amazing to be surrounded by a wealth of experience in the community (and of course, when in doubt, ask Google). What I thought were pretty white butterflies were actually the adult form of caterpillars that had happily and unashamedly munched holes in my greens. Not so pretty now, just pesky!). The best mornings are post-yoga mornings when I’ll head down to the gardens with coconut and beer in hand (the former for me, the latter for snails and slugs).

More community gardens are popping up around Sydney to meet the growing trend of the return to sustainable living and social gatherings. One day maybe I’ll have a place in the country to call my own, but for now, this little garden is pretty perfect.

*I think this must be a generational thing; she also finds it perplexing that my friends and I pay money to spend a night on the ground, in a tent.

AUS_CharmainePang_M

 

MEET THE LOCAL: CHARMAINE PANG

 

Image. Photo by Charmaine Pang.

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