Sustainable garden is pillar of community

Look closely enough and you’ll find pineapple guava, starflower and sweet basil nestled between snap peas and coriander on a deceptively large block in Armadale.

The Armadale Baptist Church community garden on Kooyong Road started with help from a City of Stonnington grant 10 years ago, after Church Pastor Jude Waldron wanted to find another way to give back to the community.

Since then, the community garden has gone from strength to strength, incorporating sustainability practices such as compost, green mulch, a worm farm and a solar power irrigation system supporting the 9000 litre water tanks.

It also gives a sense of purpose to its team of volunteers – now numbering at 14 and growing every month.

The community garden was a featured highlight of the Council’s first free Sustainable Garden Tour, held in October.

“This is the only community garden in the City of Stonnington and it has grown into a very special place,” Jude said.

“It gives a sense of community and connection to everybody who walks through the gate.”

The garden empowers Stonnington residents to come together and participate in sustainable gardening and local food growing. Each month, the harvest is shared among community members, with produce also donated to those in need.

“The garden is managed communally and all members are involved in decision-making, planning what to grow and working together to weed, plant and harvest,” said Jude.

And sustainability remains a big focus, along with education.

“None of our members are what you would call gardeners or green thumbs,” she said.

“We often find ourselves in an environment of learning to discover sustainable and productive ways to garden and we have had lots of learnings, challenges – but also laughs – along the way.

“We have had hits and misses experimenting with worm farming, but among our successes are food waste drop-off points, where anyone can leave their food waste, which is then turned into compost.”

The monthly garden meetings are a hit with members coming together to discuss everything from tree removal, green waste bin collection and general housekeeping.

Each meeting also includes a learning and education segment, such as picking out plant seedlings or the best ways to compost.

And the hard work is paying off, with the thriving garden going from strength to strength.

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