Spring 2021

Article: Andy Hrast (Canberra Organic – Spring 2021)

Fellow COGS members, welcome to the Spring edition of Canberra Organic.

I am writing this in the depth of winter. It is cold and overcast with wet conditions forecast for most of the coming week. However, whilst working in the garden I could see new buds were starting to form on the fruit trees and the promise of the renewal of spring was not far away.

Spring is also a time of renewal for COGS gardens. Our community gardens hold their Annual General Meetings during September and I would encourage all members to consider stepping forward and nominating for a position on their garden committee.

Our community gardens don’t run themselves. COGS is fortunate in having a dedicated group of people in each garden who that work together to run their garden. Thank you to all those involved. If you can, please consider giving up some time to help out in your garden — it is very rewarding volunteer work.

The cold and wet conditions have meant that gardening activities in the gardens have slowed but not stopped, with a number gardens undertaking upgrading works. It also has meant that a number of garden committees have had the time to prepare and submit proposals for funding in the latest round of the ACT Government Community Garden Grants Program. It is pleasing that four of our community gardens have submitted proposals for funding:

  • Mitchell community garden — a shelter for a person with disabilities who regularly visits and gardens in the garden;
  • Holder community garden — refurbishment and upgrades to the water reticulation in the garden;
  • Oaks Estate community garden — a new fence and gate to bring the standard of the garden fencing into line with its surrounding park location; and
  • O’Connor community garden — a waste food recycling system to serve the broader O’Connor community and provide compost for the garden.

Good luck to each of the gardens with their proposals. The Infrastructure Subcommittee has been visiting all the gardens to prepare an inventory of resources in each garden and identify the greatest needs for future investment. The report from the Subcommittee is expected in August and will be used to guide future investment decisions by the COGS Executive Committee.

A very successful open day was held at the Charnwood community garden on 29 May 2021. Thank you to Teresa and your committee. Further open days are planned at the O’Connor Garden (2 October 2021), Kambah (21 November 2021) and Cook Garden (28 November 2021). The latter two open days coincide with the 20-year anniversaries of those gardens. The Holder community garden was also due to celebrate its 20th anniversary in July 2021, with an event planned for current and past garden members. Unfortunately it had to be postponed due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, but will be rescheduled for later in the year.

COGS gardens continue to receive far-reaching and positive exposure in the local media and online. The COGS website is a well-utilised resource and our social media channels (Facebook and Instagram) are both popular. Our Facebook page has over 3700 followers and 4000 views per month. Thank you to all the people who prepare material and put themselves forward for interviews.

All this positive exposure means that COGS and our gardens are well regarded. Andrew Braddock MLA, Greens Member for Yerrabi visited the Crace and Mitchell community gardens recently and spoke very positively of the gardens in the Legislative Assembly. His speech can be viewed at http://aod.dpa.act. gov.au/A92854. Peter Cain MLA, Liberal Member for Ginninderra and a COGS member refers to COGS on his social media pages. A positive meeting was also held with Rebecca Vasarotti MLA, Minister for the Environment and Greens Member for Kurrajong at the O’Connor community garden.

The challenge for the COGS Executive Committee is how to translate this political goodwill towards COGS into firm outcomes, in particular in the development of a new garden. An additional garden to provide plots for those on the waiting list was one of key future developments identified at the planning day earlier this year.

Other developments in the past few months have included an approach to COGS to participate in the planning for a community garden at the Alexander Maconochie Centre; an invitation to participate in the Canberra Region Food Collaborative — Consulting Committee and an approach from a church group about the possibility of collaborating on a community garden in the church grounds in Gungahlin.

As I mentioned at the start, spring is time for renewal in our gardens. It is also the time to renew our COGS memberships and plot holdings. There is no change to the membership fees — $35 and $30 (for concession card holders) — and the plot fees also remain unchanged — $4.20 per square metre.

Invoices will have gone out in early August and are due by 31 August. I ask that you pay promptly to make the work of the Treasurer and the garden Convenors as easy as possible. Sending you well wishes for spring.

Happy gardening!
—Andy Hrast