Article: Neil Williams (Canberra Organic – Summer 2023)

Neil Williams
Neil Williams – COGS President

Welcome to the Summer 2023 edition of Canberra Organic. The spring just past proved to be a busy period across our gardens and for the Executive.

Garden events – connecting with the community

Crace Garden celebrated its 10th anniversary with an Open Day in September. It was well attended (see page 6). Kambah Garden, in collaboration with SEE Change, hosted a very successful composting workshop presented by Fiona Buining from Ainslie Urban Farm in early September (see page 8). The Dickson garden held a similar event in mid November and had an Open Day on the 25th of that month. Kambah Garden held its highly successful annual Open Day and seedling sale on 4 November (see page 11).  

Oaks Estate Garden held an Open Day in October as part of a broader Oaks Estate Floriade festival. Also in October, Mitchell Garden, together with Vice President Michele Barson, hosted a delegation from the Penrith City Council who were in Canberra as part of a broader tour of the region (see page 7), as well as a separate visit by local MLA Andrew Braddock.  

Events such as these are an important way for members to connect with their broader community and message the importance of community gardens.  

New convenors and garden committees

Perhaps the most important thing to happen over the spring period was the annual general meetings at each of our gardens. New committees were elected and, at around half our gardens, new convenors or co-convenors were elected. New people taking on these roles over time is important as they bring fresh ideas and new perspectives. Both renewal and continuity are strengths of COGS. I thank everyone who as stepped up to help run our gardens and ask all members to give them a hand. The names of our convenors can be found on page 4 and on our website.  

The work of the Executive Committee

The COGS Executive Committee has been busy promoting COGS and working on several issues. Firstly, we prepared a submission to the ACT Government’s draft Canberra Region Local Food Strategy (see page 14). We updated our policy on selecting inputs for organic gardens, particularly focussed on the growing range of products certified for use in organic gardens, the use of wooden pallets, rodent control, and the use of plastics (this policy can be found on our website and on page 22).  

I held a couple of interviews on local radio (666 ABC and 2CC) to promote COGS and to talk about the draft food strategy. Also, several of the Executive went to the City Farm Open Day in October and manned a stall to promote COGS.  

A small team from the committee has been progressively refreshing some of the content on our website and we will be looking to undertake an overhaul in coming months to make the site more user friendly.  

Minimising the use of plastic in our gardens

Plastic is so useful for everyday life, but it is also huge problem for our soils, rivers and oceans. According to the United Nations, globally we are now producing 400 million tonnes of plastic waste each year. As part of the inputs for organic gardens policy mentioned above, garden committees have been asked to review their use of plastic materials and, where feasible, identify biodegradable alternatives. I encourage all members and readers to try and minimise their use of plastic in our gardens and in everyday life. I recently walked around Holder Garden and in just a few minutes picked up little bits of plastic (pictured below) lying around on the pathways. There must be a better way. I am interested in people sharing best practice and ideas. Post your photos and comments for our Instagram and/or Facebook pages to or send them through to to store up for a future article.  

Enjoy the summer and I hope you have a successful growing season. Also, I hope you all have a peaceful Christmas and New Year holiday period with family and friends.  

Neil Williams


Neil Williams