featured by Bees4life on tour
How to do Permaculture Community Gardening?
Let’s listen to our friends from Ashwoood Garden and learn about their gardening and management methods when it comes to create an impactful project!
How everything began…
Ashwood High School Community Garden is located within the grounds of Ashwood High School, Melbourne, Australia but operates independently of the school. It was started in 2007 by a parent of two students at the school.
It is open to anyone in the community to join our group and to volunteer at the garden growing fruit and vegetables.
The garden is run according to Permaculture principles, working with nature not against it, creating soil that is alive with micro-organisms to support the plant life we are growing.
Permaculture principles and the network with other groups: win-win!
We avoid waste by putting organic materials back into the soil. Tree loppers donate tree mulch for our paths and soil creation and for sale to the local community as a fundraiser. Local woodworkers donate sawdust as bedding for our chickens and for making compost. A local organisation offering horse-riding for the disabled donates manure to the garden and we are gifted straw bedding from a local homing pigeon group. Water is harvested from the roof of a large building in the school and collected in our two 75,000 litre water tanks.
How to organize a community garden and involve volunteers?
The produce is shared amongst those who are volunteering on the day it is picked. We currently have 35 paid up members. Our garden has a group on Meetup to help let people know that we exist which has worked well in supplying us with volunteers.
We organise regular activities on a weekly basis to teach volunteers various aspects of growing food, caring for fruit trees, preparing the soil for planting, caring for chickens etc and the way Permaculture is applied in our regular garden activities. Volunteers will also learn by doing various tasks in the garden over time. Some of our volunteers are especially motivated to learn more about Permaculture and some come to a space where they can garden when they are living in apartments or on very small land holdings.
The special role of chickens in Ashwood Community Garden
Our chickens are a vital part of the system, turning the soils, clearing away insect pests building on spent crops, fertilising the soil and providing eggs to be shared amongst the volunteers or sold to visitors. They are housed in a moveable dome which fits neatly over the garden beds. They are moved on to the next circle at a frequency determined by the number of chickens we have at the time, currently about every 3 weeks. The chickens are protected by moveable electric fencing which is powered by a small solar panel. Volunteers are rostered daily to come and feed the chickens.
What about bees and insect?
Particular plantings encourage beneficial insects into our garden and feed our bees (we currently have one hive which provides some honey and increases fertility.)
No chemical fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides or fungicides are used.
What else is cool in Ashwood Community Garden?
In addition to the water tanks, we have a pagola to give protection from the weather, a greenhouse for growing from seed, a pizza oven made from clay onsite and decorated by a volunteer, various compost bins, compost bays and worm farms for added fertility.
The garden produces a lot of food and is becoming a repository for some unusual fruit trees and vegetables as well as the everyday produce but a key function of our community garden is to involve members of the community and bring them to a space where they can learn to grow their own nutritious food in a sustainable way.
As bees4life volunteered at this beautiful garden we can tell for sure that it is a great sustainable place with lots of lovely people.
If you are new to a city or want to meet some like-minded people a community garden is always a good place to go to. It’s so much fun to get your hands dirty together, learn about gardening, enjoy the fresh air, plants and animals and share the harvest after a few hours of work.
Look for a community garden in your city. If there is no community garden yet, get one started like we did in Da Lat, Vietnam.
If you want to get in contact with this welcoming garden group in Melbourne or follow their activities online visit their Facebook or Instagram page.