An exciting community project has been bubbling away in two Gippsland communities since the beginning of this year. Both the Jindivick community in their picturesque corner of West Gippsland, and the Yinnar community in the beautiful Morwell River Valley, are each in the process of creating a Community Garden for their districts.

These community gardens are being made possible by both communities having successfully applied to participate in the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust Community Based Garden Project. This project aims to assist communities affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires to rebuild and regenerate through gardening activities. The communities are working closely with Sustainable Gardening Australia (SGA), the project managers, to establish these gardens not just for residents of Jindivick and Yinnar but for all residents of the wider district.

In Jindivick, the garden location is planned for an area of land at Kydd Parke Reserve, the home of the beautifully situated and very successful Jindivick Cricket Club, who are very supportive of the project. Baw Baw Shire has also lent their support to the project and is assisting the community where they can.

In Yinnar, the garden location is planned for the area of land at the rear of ARC Yinnar who are also strong proponents of the project. It is hoped that an area in the garden will be set aside to grow pigment plants for local artists as well as including a small performing arts space in the final garden design. Latrobe City Council has also lent their support to the project and is assisting the community to obtain a licence for the land from DSE.

Sustainable Gardening Australia’s Project Manager, Elaine Shallue says, “This project is unique in that from the very beginning we are working with both communities to deliver on their own vision for the garden. We have held a number of community forums over the past few months so that we can get a real sense of what this garden should be. It will have a strong focus on produce gardening and sustainability but will be open to other garden activities and opportunities as requested by the community. The garden working groups are keen to encourage as many people as possible to participate in the garden and the ultimate aim is to establish the gardens as centres of sustainability within the community.”

In total, four community gardens will be created under the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust Community Garden Project. The other two gardens will be at Toolangi in the Kinglake Ranges and Beechworth in north east Victoria. These communities will commence their community consultation process in June.

Whilst the project budget covers all of the infrastructure requirements for the garden, the local communities are expected to provide volunteers to help build the garden. A local Garden Facilitator has been appointed in both Jindivick and Yinnar to ensure that the garden is supported through the initial setup stages until it is fully functioning.

An important element of these garden are that the garden plots will be communal and that many community groups will be encouraged to come and participate in the garden and grow what they want. And you don’t have to be an expert gardener to participate, all are welcome and there are plans to use the gardens as places for community gatherings and celebrations in the future.