Grow Your Own
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GROWING YOUR OWN fresh food in your local community garden is a new way to healthy eating practised by increasing numbers of Australians.
Community gardening is more than simply growing food. It is also a way to grow a sense of place and community.
The number of community gardens inAustraliais increasing. What started as isolated examples of urban food production in the late-1970s has blossomed into a movement promoting nutritional health through the growing, sharing and eating of fresh, locally grown food. Community gardeners know that sharing land to grow food builds a sense of place and community.
Types of gardens
Community food gardens are found on land owned by local government, schools, churches and state government housing estates.
Common to all gardens is the sharing of land and responsibility for looking after it.
There are two types of community garden:
- the shared garden in which gardeners have responsibility for the entire garden, doing whatever work is needed at the time and taking a share of what they grow
- the allotment garden in which gardeners have their own garden plot.
Many community gardens combine the two, and even in allotment gardens there is shared work to do in maintaining the communal areas. Both types have been proven to work well. The type chosen depends on the preference of the gardeners.
The community of the table
There is no better way to build a sense of community and to make new friends than to share the growing and cooking of food – what noted chef and author, Stephanie Alexander, calls the ‘community of the table’.
Although in most community gardens people harvest what they grow and take it home to cook, more and more gardens are discovering the joys of preparing the food they grow and eating it in the garden. According to Rob Joyner fromSydney’sEasternSuburbsCommunityGarden, “we have a monthly meeting… and at the end of the meeting we have a lunch that is based on whatever is currently in the garden — we use the garden produce as much as we can. We extend the gardening experience to actually preparing the food, and that’s very popular”.