It is nice to reflect on the year that has been and to acknowledge with a sense of accomplishment a year of hard work and many milestones. And I’m not simply speaking of SGA where we lately celebrated our move into our enlarged, refurbished offices. Rather I am reflecting in a broader sense on one of our current projects – Community Gardens Victorian Bushfire Affected Areas.

To recap, SGA was fortunate in mid-2010 to secure funding from the Victorian based, philanthropic trust, the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. Following the tragedy of the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the trust set up a $2m trust fund to assist in the restoration of community life in rural townships affected by the fires.

SGA was allocated $1m to further its work in assisting communities affected by the fires, to regenerate through sustainable gardening activities. Amongst other objectives and activities covered by the grant, the project will develop a community gardens’ model that is appropriate to regional communities who value highly the ancillary benefits that community gardening will bring and who do not have a shortage of land on which to grow.
In all, four communities were selected to be part of this community gardens’ project and are being assisted to establish community gardens. Intentionally, there is no generic garden model and SGA has worked with each community to develop ‘their vision’ of a community garden. The results have been varied and unique to each garden site. But not surprisingly, what is common to all gardens is the passion that each community has brought to the project. And so as we bring 2011 to a close, all of the gardens have completed their planning and have progressed to the building phase with great joy and anticipation of what 2012 will bring.

Jindivick Community Garden

This small community is nestled in the foothills of spectacular Mt Baw Baw and close to Warragul. It is a vibrant community with a ‘can do’ attitude. This community has opted to develop their garden in a corner of Kydd Parke Reserve close to the home of the Jindivick Cricket Club. The garden design that has been developed includes a purpose built shelter and shed, rainwater tanks, composting bays, meandering paths, fruit trees, areas for raised garden beds and seating for those who simply want to enjoy quiet times in the garden. The garden plans have been finalised and building works are due to start on the garden over the coming summer.

If you would like to be involved in the Jindivick Community Garden, please contact Megan Asling, Garden Facilitator at

Yinnar and District Community Garden

This community garden is to be built at the rear of the iconic Artists Resource Collective (ARC) in Main Street Yinnar. The design that the community have agreed upon reflects their connection and respect with the natural environment of the beautiful Morwell River Valley in which they live. In addition the creative nature of the community has resulted in some unusual elements in this community garden including an outdoor performance area that can be used for live performances or outdoor exhibitions. The garden also includes provision for a frog bog and a bush tucker area to be added onto the garden after the initial works have been completed. Work on this garden has already commenced although the extended wet period over winter and spring has presented some practical onsite problems that the community is currently addressing. Fortunately the garden working group views these challenges as simply opportunities to get things right for the long term.
If you would like to be involved in the Yinnar and District Community Garden, please contact Catheryn Thompson, Garden Facilitator at

Toolangi Castella and District Community Garden

This garden is set in the picturesque Kinglake Ranges, surrounded by magnificent mountain ash trees and is home of the rare Round-Leaf pomaderris (Pommaderris vacciniifolia) shrub. The resourceful community has chosen to convert a disused tennis court at the rear of the CJ Dennis Reserve in the heart of Toolangi. The garden design has cleverly included meandering pathways and arbours to create a sense of mystery and surprise when wandering through the garden. Work on the garden has started with the clearing of woody weeds, including blackberry and broom, and the working group is looking forward to transforming a derelict and neglected site into a vibrant and active community garden.

If you would like to be involved in the Toolangi Castella and District Community Garden, please contact Tabitha Barclay, Garden Facilitator at

Beechworth Community Garden

This old mining town charms visitors with its historic buildings and legends of Ned Kelly as well as delighting gastronomes visiting local food producers, orchards, berry farms and vineyards. And to add to its appeal, it is a town where sustainability and community values are apparent in many of the initiatives undertaken by residents. The Beechworth Community garden is to be built at the rear of the Quercus Community bookshop, part of the Beechworth Neighbourhood Centre. The garden design has been developed to be sympathetic to the heritage value of the surrounding buildings whilst endeavouring to include all of the elements that will allow for the garden to be a practical, interactive and sustainable place. The resultant design is more of a traditional ‘potager’ style garden than those developed by other communities, but includes areas for experimentation and trialling plants. As with the other gardens, work will commence on the Beechworth garden over the summer period.

If you would like to be involved in the Beechworth Community Garden, please contact Donna Page, Garden Facilitator at

All of the community gardens have been designed to be inclusive places that welcome participation by all members of the community and visitors to the area. Education and training in sustainable gardening are principal functions of each of the gardens. All the garden working groups have been providing monthly training workshops free to the community this year. These will recommence at each garden early in 2012, again on a monthly basis. And, as each garden develops, you can anticipate plenty of hands on activities and opportunities to get ‘down and dirty’ at working bees and planting days.

And so, to reiterate the sentiments in my opening paragraph, we can feel very proud of the efforts and results of hardworking garden working groups in each of the four garden sites. What has been accomplished in this year has been very gratifying. What will be accomplished in early 2012, will be nothing short of wonderful!

So for all of our website readers with an interest in Community gardens, watch this space as the best is definitely yet to come.

Note: Karen Sutherland from Edible Eden Design worked with the communities of Jindivick, Yinnar & District and Beechworth to develop their garden designs. The garden at Toolangi was the concept of Frances Saunders of Frances Saunders Design and was further developed by Tabitha Barclay, the garden facilitator. All garden designers are ECLIPs certified and their details can be found here.