Tucked away in the lush southwest corner of Western Australia is Gardenup, a biodynamic farm, in the town of Boyup Brook. But it’s not just any biodynamic farm. Its owner Jacqueline Zanders (shown here with a basket of delicious apples) and the other founding members of Gardenup, her daughter Dana van Goethem, and Dana’s partner Justin Morrissey, are passionate about the environment, sustainable living, and helping the community. In fact, they are so passionate they recently turned Gardenup into a community farm.

Gardenup had been an organic and biodynamic farm for over three years. About three months ago the team made the decision to invite the community to participate. Unlike community gardens, in which members are allocated allotments, at Gardenup members work together on the property and share in the produce.

Because of the farm’s certified organic status, it was not appropriate to create allotments to allow members to garden as they wish. The certification has very strict criteria for farming practices and Gardenup didn’t want to jeopardize their certified organic status.

‘Not only do volunteers share in the harvest,’ explains Justin Morrissey, ‘they enjoy the work and the fact that they know where their food has come from. It’s fresh and no chemicals are used.’

The photograph here shows a range of chemical-free and very healthy looking produce.

There had been talk and quite a bit of enthusiasm in the local community about setting up a community garden. The team from Gardenup gave it some thought and realized that their 6 hectare (15 acre) property would be ideal for such a venture.

‘It’s right in the heart of the town, a few minutes walk from the nursing home,’ says Justin. Justin is quick to point out though, that it’s not just older people who have become involved in Gardenup!

‘We have a very wide age group of people who come here to work, from little kids upwards,’ he says. Young Asterix, pictured here, is one of their younger gardeners!

The farm, which Justin describes more as a big garden than a farm, grows peaches, pears, apples, nectarines, figs, macadamias and almonds, as well as an extensive range of vegetables. They also run about 250 pedigreed chickens.

Every Thursday is volunteers’ day, from 2 to 5pm, and a market stall (farm shop) is open to the public selling Gardenup produce.

There is also an educational component to Gardenup’s activities. Schools often visit as part of their exploration of sustainable agriculture. The local Boyup Brook School, for example, has visited the farm to learn about organic practices. And the members of Gardenup have found themselves involved in WA politics too, lobbying ministers in the wake of the interest in the concept of ‘Farms for the Future’.

And it’s not just food production either. In accordance with their biodynamic principles, Gardenup gives regard for the natural environment too. They have created three wildlife corridors through the property.

‘We have re-introduced a lot of indigenous vegetation,’ says Justin, ‘and because of it, we’re noticing a huge increase in native birds coming back to the property.’

Images courtesy of Gardenup.