What better way to spend a few hours of spring sunshine that a visit to the flourishing Community Garden in Busselton? A peaceful greenbelt on the edge of the light industrial area, the award winning garden is a demonstration of what can be achieved in a short time with a vision, a shovel and organic practices.
The half hectare site incorporates an orchard of stone fruit and citrus trees, a children's playground, cafe and Eco-House. A grower's market every second and fourth Saturday morning sells produce from the garden and within a 100km radius. There are 65 individual plots, leased to members for $55 a year, with plans for more plots to come. Some are cared for by schools and the garden accommodates work-for-the-dole placements and community service. Education is a key focus, and courses are held on topics such as worm farming, composting and soil fertility. Any one can join the regular busy-bees and chat to the green thumbs about their successes and challenges.
The mantra "recycle and reuse" is showcased throughout the garden: the salvaged rainbow coloured windmill provides water for use on the gardens, crushed building rubble has been used for pathways, and worms are fed with organic waste produced on site. Compost heaps return nutrients to the soil, worm juice is sold by the litre, and eggs are available from the resident chooks.
There are over 180 community gardens in Australia and the interest in growing. People are realising a need to return to sustainable practices, to learn how to grow their own food using organic methods, and to revive a sense of camaraderie with the community. The impact of rising food prices, question over quality of produce available in stores, and a return to vogue of "old fashioned" ways has seen a high level of participation. Being able to see the cycle of your food from seed to plate is becoming increasingly important, and people desire a return of the plump tasty tomatoes, dark earthy silverbeet and heirloom varieties of their childhood.