community gardens

Urban greenery in Vancouver

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A green roof on top of a skyscraper, as seen from the Granville bridge
A green roof on top of a skyscraper, as seen from the Granville bridge

Last week I was in Vancouver (Canada) for work, and in amongst the conference and meetings I had a chance to walk through most areas of the city.

It’s a lovely city. It’s also interesting to see little patches of greenery popping up in unlikely spots.

This includes a green roof on top of a skyscraper (above), and community gardens squeezed into unused spaces (below). There were also a few rain gardens, which looked to have been installed as part of the preparation for the Winter Olympics, which were held here a few years back.

Say what you like about top-down policies and strategies for addressing climate change. Even in the absence of these, cities around the world are undergoing a quiet revolution that is connecting people to communities, food and the environment.

Community garden alongside disused railway tracks, south of the CBD.
Community garden alongside disused railway tracks, south of the CBD.
Community garden, right in the heart of the city.
Community garden, right in the heart of the city.
Greening a roundabout: "This street garden is being cared for by a local resident involved in the Green Streets Program."
Greening a roundabout: “This street garden is being cared for by a local resident involved in the Green Streets Program.”
Rain garden, near Vancouver's stadiums.
Rain garden, near Vancouver’s stadiums.
Large scale urban agriculture, right at the foot of the huge stadium.
Large scale urban agriculture, right at the foot of the huge stadium.
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Landshare comes to Australia

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Via our local permaculture group, I’ve just heard that Landshare has just arrived in Australia. The basic idea is to connect up those with spare (unused but arable) land, with people who have a passion for gardening. The produce is then shared. (It’s an alternative approach to the traditional community garden.)

From a distance of 10,000 miles away, it seems like this has been quite successful in the UK. It will be interesting to see how it goes here…

More community garden resources

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This week’s session of the Milkwood part-time permaculture course is on community gardens. Run by Russ Grayson, a veteran of permaculture and community gardens, he pointed us to a pile of useful resources:

My takeaway is that there is an awful lot of information already known, but is not well shared. This definitely feels like the tip of the iceberg…

Wealthy communities & the Permaculture Biz

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Robin will give a brief PowerPoint slide show titled ‘Wealthy Communities’ which showcases co-operative and community strategies that support the creation of real wealth. Robin’s primary passion is interactive group work and creative learning so, to complete the evening, you’ll get to experience an activity that will support teamwork and the deepening of connections and networking within your community.

This event is open to the public and all are invited. Attendance is free to members of Permaculture Sydney South and North and $10 for non-members.

Bookings can be made at events [at] permaculturesydneysouth.org.au or by calling 0412 679 215.

Council gives Guerilla Gardeners a green light

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Yarra Council in Melbourne has recently come out in support of Guerilla gardens in their municipality. This will set a precedent for other councils. Are you listening, Marrickville Council?

In the meantime:

As Rebecca Solnit, the inspiring San Francisco-based activist, concludes in her book Hope in the Dark: the Untold History of People Power, there is no point waiting for governments, be they local or otherwise, to initiate change.

She insists that it’s from the margins that new and radical ideas always emerge and get translated into action. And the margins are certainly where you’ll find guerilla gardeners.

Hat tip: New Matilda

Grants for community gardens

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The Open Garden scheme has just announced details on their 2009 grants program for community gardens. This gives cash to community gardens across Australia that are of ” lasting benefit to the local and wider community” and are  “accessible to the public on a permanent or semi-permanent basis”.

I think it’s wonderful that there is money available for these gardens. At this point we’re pretty busy on our own private garden, so I don’t think we’ll be applying this year. 🙂

There are also plenty of good inner-West community gardens nearby (but you can’t have too many!).

Inner west community gardens

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Path through the Marrickville Food Forrest
Path through the Marrickville Food Forrest

There are a number of community gardens in the Inner West of Sydney (and many more beyond). These provide a great opportunity for those with small gardens (or no gardens!) to grow their own vegetables, herbs and fruit.

Today we visited the Marrickville Food Forrest, located on Addison Road, in the Addison Road Centre (ARC). As is typical, it is squeezed into an unused plot of land behind some buildings, but thriving nonetheless.

It makes me appreciate how lucky we are here. We have easily 5 to 6 times the space of a typical community garden plot, with plenty of sun, and room for growth. Now the pressure is on to really make it thrive!

Over the next few months we’ll try to drop into more of these gardens, to get further inspiration on what (and how) to grow. There is also the potential to join up with a Seed Savers group, to swap seeds (we have plenty left over).

These are the gardens on our list for the Inner West:

Further information: