Holder Community Garden has been in operation since 2001. It is the largest of the COGS gardens at around 5000 m2. The Garden has 58 plots, varying in size from 18 m2 to 45 m2.
Its open sunny aspect provides good growing conditions, but the Garden can be exposed to hot and cold north westerly prevailing winds and frosts in winter. Casuarinas planted both inside and outside the garden after the 2003 bush fires provide some wind protection and varying shade, but the most successful plots incorporate some form of partial wind barrier. The soil varies from plot to plot, depending on the age of the plot and past soil improvement practices, but is typically clay-based with couch grass as the most invasive of the local weeds. There are a number of beehives on site which help pollinate various crops.
The Holder Community Garden has a very active gardening community. About 50 people hold plots, with a wide range of vegetables grown in all seasons, and some impressive flowers. Gardening methods are organic, but otherwise vary from plot to plot – heavily mulched; no mulch; vertical; horizontal; no-dig; and deep straw bale beds.
Holder has a communal orchard growing apples, plums, apricots and olives, as well as various herbs, grapevines, and berries for shared use and maintenance.
Like other COGS gardens, the Holder Community Garden provides gardeners with access to some tools stored in the small onsite shed. A shelter off the shed provides a focal point for social gatherings on the tables and chairs after working bees or other occasions. All plot holders have access to woodchip mulch dropped off periodically by one of the ACT Government depots.
Gardeners share the allotment with a range of passing wildlife, notably field mice and bush rats; rabbits and foxes; snakes and geckos in spring and summer; many lovely blue wrens and willy wag tails; and starlings, choughs, crows, magpies and cockatoos. Bird friendly netting must be used, and no chemicals or pesticides can be used against the various bugs and critters.
Regular working bees attend to mowing and grounds maintenance, weeding and mulching fruit trees and communal areas. Regular mowing is encouraged given the extensive grassed areas.
There is a strong culture of regular informal sharing of seeds, seedlings, produce, gardening knowledge and local experience. New gardeners are encouraged to ask questions of our more experienced gardeners who are only too happy to help and share their extensive knowledge (including ingenious ways to prevent crops being decimated by the wildlife) – there is no such thing as a dumb question!
Members are encouraged to donate any excess produce to a Canberra based social enterprise café which helps train migrant and refugee women in hospitality. Some members also provide produce to local charities.
The Holder Garden is located on the corner of Streeton Drive and Cotter Road, with access along a gravel driveway from Dixon Drive. The garden is ideally located for people from the Weston Creek area and the Molonglo Valley, as well as Woden Valley and north Tuggeranong.