Spring 2022

Article: Andy Hrast (Canberra Organic – Spring 2022).

Dear fellow COGS member

Welcome to the spring 2022 edition of Canberra Organic. I am writing this in mid-July on a beautifully clear and sunny, but frosty morning. The promise of spring is starting to become evident when I look out the window — the buds on the fruit trees are starting to swell and some of the early bulbs have already burst into flower.

It is a time to reflect on the annual seasonal cycle and plan for the coming growing season. While there are concerns with the latest variants of COVID-19, let’s hope they reduce and we can all plan with greater certainty in our gardens and with our lives generally.

While it is a relatively quiet time in our gardens, the COGS Executive has continued the administration of COGS to enable greater certainty for the future. It is pleasing to see a number of gardens completing works and others developing plans for significant infrastructure development. This is possible without having to worry about how to pay for the works because of COGS’ strong financial position This strong financial position was also the basis for reducing COGS membership fees from $35 per year to $15 (and $25 to $10 for concession card holders) for 2022–23. Invoices for 2022–23 will have been sent at the end of July and I urge everyone to pay the invoices in a timely manner, without the need for Convenors to have to chase gardeners for payments. Two gardens, Charnwood and Betty Cornhill, have applied for grants under Garden Grants Scheme for partial funding of projects for upgrades in their gardens. We wish them well. Readers will have noticed at the start of the magazine, the recent inclusion of an Acknowledgement of Country. The COGS Executive, in deciding to include an Acknowledgement of Country in the magazine, on website and at the commencement of meetings, recognises that the twelve COGS gardens in which we grow are located on Ngunnawal land.

COGS considers that we all have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation, and in playing our part, we collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures, and futures. The inclusion of the Acknowledgement of Country is a powerful and important symbol of reconciliation.

Like the Ngunnawal people, COGS members have a direct connection to the land, through the growing of fruits, vegetables and flowers in our community and backyard gardens and recognise the importance of nurturing the land. The COGS Executive is wishing to build on this shared interest in nurturing the land and is reaching out to elders of the Ngunnawal people and others in the Indigenous community with a view to establishing a Bush Tucker Garden. This is an exciting opportunity to put into practice the symbolism of the Acknowledgement of Country.

The General Meeting of COGS that was due to have taken place on 30 July 2022 to consider a revised COGS Constitution was postponed due to concerns about COVID at that time. The General Meeting will now be rescheduled for later in the year. The proposed Constitution addresses several ambiguities and outdated provisions and brings it into line with current regulatory requirements. It will put COGS on a sound legal footing going forward.

Coinciding with the revisions to the Constitution, a document that explains suitable inputs that can be used in COGS gardens has been agreed by the Executive Committee and can be found on the COGS website. This document answers the commonly asked questions of what can be used in COGS gardens. I urge all members to read it.

The proposed Constitution is the culmination of nearly 18 months of work. A consultation draft was circulated to members in February 2022. All the suggestions received were incorporated into the proposed draft. Thank you to everybody who contributed and especially the subcommittee members who put in so many hours of work to develop the document.

Rats have been a major problem in all our gardens during the last growing season and into autumn and winter. There have been many reports of gardeners losing their entire crops, including cauliflowers and broccoli, to rats. The COGS Executive recently considered a paper on the control of rodents.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to fix this problem. The COGS Executive reaffirmed its prohibition on poisons, as these are inconsistent with COGS values and raise concerns about the danger to other wildlife. Traps, if used humanely, are acceptable. There are various schools of thought on what is best to deter rats and an article appears in this edition discussing the various options tried at Erindale. As you know, COGS community gardens don’t run themselves. There is dedicated team of people in each garden that keep the garden running. COGS would not operate without them. Thank you to each one of you for the time that you so generously give. Happy gardening.

Happy gardening.  

—Andy Hrast