Article: Neil Williams (Canberra Organic – Spring 2023)

Neil Williams
Neil Williams – COGS President

Welcome to the Spring edition of Canberra Organic. Spring is always an exciting time in Canberra as gardens come back to life, with daffodils and jonquils blooming and various wattles across Canberra out in force.

It is also a great time to be working your plot at a COGS garden or your veggie patch at home to get ready for your spring and summer plantings. All indications are it is going to be a warmer and dryer summer, so it is time to think about providing appropriate wind and sun protection for your plants, including mulch, and ensuring you have suitable watering regimes at your garden.

Spring is when our membership year begins, and you should all have received your invoices in early August. Thank you to all those who have already paid, and I encourage the rest of you to pay as soon as you can. The money we raise from membership and plot fees goes towards maintaining our gardens, to pay for our water consumption and our administration, and to pay for the production of this high-quality Canberra Organic magazine.

Spring is also the time for our Annual General Meetings (AGMs) at each of our 12 community gardens, with all the AGMs to be held during the month of September. The AGMs are an important time to come together as a garden community to reflect on the year just past, as well as to look to the year ahead. At the individual garden AGM both the convenor and the garden committee are elected by those present at the meeting or by proxy.

I ask each of you to consider putting your hand up either to fulfil one of these important roles or to help the convenor or committee in some other capacity. We simply can’t function without our fabulous volunteers. I will be stepping down as convenor of the Holder Community Garden – a role I have performed for the past 3 years. Over that time the garden has gone through some ups and downs (as do all the gardens), but I have found being convenor to be a rewarding experience. The lowest points were the two times the garden was broken into, and lawn mowers stolen. Another low, or more a frustration (which I am sure other convenors will relate to!), is the number of times I had to remind people to turn off the water and to lock the gate! High points have been investing in improvements to the garden, including replacing all our taps and risers, purchasing new tools (including replacement mowers!) and the installation of new entrance gates. Other high points were finding contacts in the ACT Government to enable semi-regular wood mulch deliveries and the resurfacing of the gravel driveway outside our gates. The biggest high though has been meeting new people, from the very experienced long-term gardeners to the young and eager to learn. Talking to your fellow gardeners and sharing knowledge is perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the COGS gardens. As a relatively new vegetable grower, these conversations have been, to me, an invaluable learning experience. I found there is no such thing as a dumb question! I encourage each of you to strike up a conversation with your neighbouring gardeners and find out what they are growing, what works and what doesn’t at your garden, or to see if your neighbour needs a helping hand.

Holder garden has had several very enjoyable social gatherings after working bees, with people going to lots of effort to make some delicious food, mostly from our lovely organic produce. Whether it is having conversations with your fellow gardeners or a social gathering at the garden this all helps to put a sense of community into your community garden.

Please consider getting more involved in the running of your local COGS garden. Enjoy the warmer weather.

Neil Williams