Community gardens a way of the future

November 29, 2010

Community gardens not only provide sustainable living and food security, they also create a much needed sense of belonging, a Murdoch University student found out on her recent trip to Cuba and North America.

Sustainable Development and Planning student, Christina Snowdon, spent three months in Cuba and North America researching state-run and community gardens. She spoke to groups in Havana, Los Angeles, Berkley, Oakland, Portland and Seattle.

Christina said Australia could draw heavily from the gardens in North America and Cuba.

“Community gardens can provide a sense of place in the public realm in a progressively privatised world. They provide a forum for people to engage with each other in an informal, relaxed way,” Christina said.

She said while many gardens were locked and for private use throughout the US, she was impressed with Seattle, which has an extensive community gardening program that encourages involvement from everybody in the city.

“Community gardens in Seattle are public places and as such many people treat them like parks, utilising the spaces for lunch or meetings or just passing through. This is one of the small but very useful strategies that Seattle utilises to promote inclusion and community engagement.”

Western Australia has 26 community gardens and another 14 are under construction but Christina believes we could be doing a lot more to encourage collaborative sustainable agriculture.

“I realised while in the US that the potential for community gardening in Australia is largely untapped,” she said.

“Although many city councils in Australia are beginning to promote community gardening, I think there is so much more potential that could be tapped into. I think it is very important to create strong collaborations between community, government and businesses to provide opportunities for growth and expansion.

“I think it is very important that gardens are accessible and inclusive, so that all members of our community (including marginalised members) can participate in them and be involved in the community in meaningful ways.”

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Comments (3 responses)

Sergio Dominngos December 1, 2010

Good story,

Murdoch University has its own communal student garden at the Environmental Technology Centre (ETC), on Murdoch campus. We just need students to come in and contribute, the space is ready to go with state of the art dripline irrigation, composting piles and worm farms, all happening. It is all here to be used by the Murdoch community. Maybe this story could help getting the word out about the communal gardens and permaculture gardens at the ETC. Christina and others are welcome to come and get involved as we strugle to get enough student involvement to get the gardens going all year round.

Please make this comment public to the Murdoch uni community

Sergio Domingos
ETC Site Manager and PhD candidate
School of Environmental Science

Luke Garswood December 3, 2010

This link is a better link for details on community gardening in WA and includes the capacity to search for a garden in your local area – it's only quite new so worth sharing!


Luke Garswood
Victoria Park Community Garden Association

Koren Wheatley December 29, 2010

Very interesting article and I strongly agree that these gardens should be accessible and inclusive of all community members. I hope that we do start seeing more community gardens being established.

Koren Wheatley

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