featured by Bees4life on tour
How to do Permaculture Community Gardening?
Let’s listen to our friends from Ashwoood Garden. We will learn about their gardening and management methods and how they created an impactful project!
How everything began…
Ashwood High School Community Garden is located within the grounds of Ashwood High School, Melbourne, Australia. It operates independently of the school. In 2007, a parent of two students at the school started the garden.
It is open to anyone in the community to join our group. Everyone can come and volunteer at the garden growing fruit and vegetables.
The garden follows permaculture principles, working with nature not against it. It creates soil that is alive with micro-organisms to support the plant life.
Permaculture principles and the network with other groups: win-win!
The gardeners 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 the chickens and for making compost. A local organisation offering horse-riding for the disabled donates manure to the garden. The garden also receives straw bedding from a local homing pigeon group for free.
The garden receives water from two 75,000 litre water tanks, which are filled trough a water harvesting system from the rooftop.
How to organize a community garden and involve volunteers?
The produce is shared amongst those who are volunteering on the day it is picked. The garden currently has 35 paid up members. Moreover, the organizers run a group on Meetup. This platform helps people to know about the garden’s existance and supplies it well with volunteers.
We organise regular activities on a weekly basis. We 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. Others 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
Chickens are a vital part of the system. They turn and fertilise the soils, clear away insect pests building on spent crops and provide eggs for volunteers or visitors. They live in a moveable dome which fits neatly over the garden beds. When one area is done, they move to the next circle at a frequency determined by the number of chickens we have at the time, currently about every 3 weeks. A moveable electric fencing, powered by a small solar panel protects the chichens from predators. Volunteers feed the chickens on a daily basis.
What about bees and insect?
Particular plantings encourage beneficial insects into the garden and feed the bees. The garden currently has one hive which provides some honey and increases pollination.
Ashwood Community garden doesn’t use any synthetic fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides or fungicides.
What else is cool in Ashwood Community Garden?
In addition to the water tanks, they have a pagola to give protection from the weather. Also, to grow seedlings they have a little nursery greenhouse.
Moreover, there is 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. Yet, a key function of the community garden is the following: 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 Jessika Graf from 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.
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.