Autumn 2022

Article: Andy Hrast (Canberra Organic – Autumn 2022)

As I write this in mid-January, it is raining. This is typical of the current summer. It is wet and the temperatures have been benign, making it an excellent growing season. I am hearing reports of some good summer crops already being harvested.  

The rain has meant that we have been able to avoid the need for watering, saving a lot time. Time we instead need for weeding! The weeds are also enjoying the growing conditions.  

Most of our gardens are looking great, however a couple have experienced flooding and water-logging due to the local topography. I feel for the gardeners at the Charnwood community garden who experienced the full brunt of the severe hail storm in early January causing massive damage to crops.  

An issue all gardens that have grassed area are experiencing is the need for regular mowing to keep the rampant grass growth under control. It’s a major job and I ask all gardeners to support their Convenors and Garden Committees by joining in working bees and taking their turn on mowing rosters. The old adage of ‘many hands make light work’ is very true.  

There have also been reports of more rats than usual in our gardens this summer. This is a common problem. I recently had the opportunity to visit a community garden on the south coast of NSW and near the top of their list of garden issues was the damage caused by rats. I understand and have personally experienced the frustration of having crops decimated by rats. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution.  

Late last year, COGS was approached by the Gungahlin Uniting Church about the possibility of taking over a small derelict community garden associated with the Church. In line with desire expressed at the Planning Day to increase the number gardens to address waiting lists, the COGS Executive undertook a due diligence on the existing garden at the church including the possibility of extending it. Unfortunately, the existing garden was considered too small to be viable and any expansion would have been prohibitively expensive.  

The COGS Executive is continuing to pursue with the ACT Government the possibility of additional gardens. A meeting has been held with the Minister for the Environment and one is scheduled with the Minister for Planning and Land Management. I remain hopeful that something will eventuate from these meetings.  

A major activity of the COGS Executive Committee during 2021 was to undertake a review of the infrastructure in our gardens and identify priorities. It is pleasing that based on those priorities a new shed and shelter has been built at the Erindale community garden and funding for a new fence has been approved for Oaks Estate. I look forward to other gardens coming forward with funding proposals during the coming year.  

The review of the COGS Constitution is progressing well and I expect a draft revised constitution and explanatory notes to be circulated shortly to all members for comment, prior to consideration at a General Meeting in mid-2022.  

COGS has also been invited to contribute to the development of the ACT’s Urban Agriculture policy called the Food and Fibre Strategy and we will be providing a submission.  

The COGS Executive Committee at its December meeting agreed, following a call for nominations from members, to confer Life Membership on three members: Conrad Van Hest, Narelle McLean and Richard Horobin in recognition of their outstanding work in support of COGS over many years. They will be formally presented with their life membership at a ceremony at the COGS Annual General Meeting and they and their work will be featured in the winter edition of Canberra Organic.  

There is a notice on this page advising details of the COGS Annual General Meeting. This will be the opportunity for the current Executive Committee to report on the past year and for the renewal of the Committee with election of new members. Please put the date into your diaries and attend if possible.  

There will be formal advice of the Annual General Meeting sent to all members including forms for nomination for positions on the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee has overall responsibility for the management of COGS and operates on volunteer basis. Please consider nominating for a position on the Executive Committee. If you are interested in nominating for a position do not hesitate to contact me for more information:  

andy.hrast@gmail.com or 0408 247 360. I look forward to seeing as many people as possible attending the Annual General Meeting.  

Happy gardening.  

—Andy Hrast