Winter 2022

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

Dear fellow COGS member

Welcome to the winter 2022 edition of Canberra Organic. Our gardens are looking very green after the wet and mild conditions of the last 18 months. I am hearing reports of excellent harvests for some crops, but those that require hotter and drier conditions have not fared so well. There have also been reports of greater losses to rodents. The vagaries of the weather and pests are the frustrations and joys of gardening.

As we move into the quieter time of the year, please give some time to clearing and tidying up your plots and your wider community gardens so that our gardens are looking good and are ready for the spring plantings. I am aware that our gardens, especially those in more exposed locations, are constantly under review and being judged by our neighbours.

The COGS Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on Sunday 27 March 2022 at the Charnwood community garden. There was an excellent attendance of almost 40 people. Thank you to Charnwood for hosting the meeting.

I am honoured to have been re-elected as President.

Thank you to all the people who nominated and were elected to positions on the Committee. The full list of the new Committee is shown on page 3 of the magazine. I look forward to working with the new Committee over the coming year. COGS can only continue to exist due to the ongoing generosity of our people who volunteer their time to take on these leadership roles, both at the Committee level and at the garden level.

The President’s Report to the AGM can be found on the ‘Members only’ section of the COGS website. Some key points in the report include how we dealt with the impact of COVID-19 and our strong financial result, reflecting the reduced water usage due to the wet and mild conditions during 2021. A summary of the financial result is in the Treasurer’s Report on page 25 and the full financial statements can be found on the COGS website.

There are three other areas that I would like to highlight:

  • Possible new gardens: As a result of the continued waiting lists for plots in COGS gardens, the Committee has been actively pursuing the Government to provide land for a new garden and there are promising signs that a site may become available in Casey. There are also promising signs of a developer-built garden in Denman Prospect. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
  • Infrastructure review: The review undertaken during 2021 identified gaps and set priorities for funding to bring facilities in all of our COGS gardens to a similar standard. A number of projects have already been built or approved for funding.
  • COGS Constitution: A revised draft Constitution has been circulated to members and is open for comment until mid-May. It can also be found on the COGS website. Please take time to read through it and let me know what you think. A General Meeting of all members is being planned for mid-year to consider the amended constitution.

At the AGM, Life Membership (and certificates) were presented to Narelle McLean, Conrad van Hest and Richard Horobin, as a reflection of their contribution to COGS. I would like to again congratulate all three new Life Members and a profile on each of them is in this edition of the magazine.

The last three months, since the last edition of the Canberra Organic, have been particularly busy for the COGS Committee dealing with the ACT Government regarding possible new garden sites and putting in a submission to the Government’s Food and Fibre Strategy. Most recently COGS, as an organisation and members of our gardens, are being invited to participate in a survey of community gardens by the Suburban Land Agency.

There has also been participation in a research project by the University of Canberra on the development of a methodology for the measurement of food production from gardens, as well as other research projects. There have also been discussions with other like-minded organisations.

Most pleasingly there have been, with the easing in the pandemic, several events in our gardens — Cook, O’Connor and Charnwood. The COGS Committee will be encouraging gardens to organise more of these events as the worst of COVID-19, we hope, recedes.

While the winter months may be the quieter time in our gardens, it is the busiest time for administration — data needs to be collected to calculate plot and membership fees and invoices prepared and sent. This a significant workload for the convenors and the Treasurer and I ask for your cooperation in being decisive about your intentions with regard to plots for 2022–23 and prompt with the payment of your invoices.

Finally, I would like to share with you a paragraph from, of all places, the Economist magazine:

The real joy of gardening is the time spent doing it. The deepest pleasure – as with cooking, writing, bringing up children or almost anything worthwhile – is in the work itself. A gardener’s memories revolve not around the food produced, but around long summer afternoons with hands in the dirt, surrounded by family, if the garden is at home, or deepening acquaintances with friends and neighbours in an allotment or community garden. To garden is to patiently, lovingly and diligently help life flourish, in the ground and above it.

‘The joy of gardening’ (

Happy gardening.  

—Andy Hrast