A boggy paddock at the back of the old butter factory in Yinnar has been transformed into a dynamic and creative community garden that is drawing together people from Boolarra, Yinnar, Churchill & even Moe. The garden is a testament to these small communities in the heart of the Strezlecki Ranges who have come together over the past 18 months and, through hard work and a strong community spirit, turned an ambitious vision into a wonderful community space.

The opportunity for this community garden arose from funding provided by the Helen Macpherson Smith Bushfire Grants Fund. ARC Yinnar, who run an artist resource from the old butter factory, provided the land in a formally unused space at the back of their building. The Yinnar & District Community Association led the formation of a community garden working group that quickly drew on a wealth of local expertise. Latrobe City has assisted with planning issues and the lease of the land.

The garden working group has been assisted throughout by Sustainable Gardening Australia by providing ongoing advice and expertise. A highlight for everyone involved in this garden has been the large number of local community members who turn up regularly to garden workshops and working bees. Even in the cold and wintery conditions of July 2012, over 40 people turned out for the community planting day where over 50 fruit producing trees and shrubs were planted in the garden area.

The garden is designed to represent a Giant Flower, with 5 large & 4 smaller petals. Initially conceived by Karen Sutherland, the final design was produced by local Sari Anderson and the result is a beautiful but practical space. The centre of the garden is a designated amphitheatre where art work can be displayed or outdoor performances held.

At the many garden working bees, 8 raised vegetable beds of different heights have been built as well as a number of large materials and composting bays. Rainwater tanks, holding more than 60 000 litres of water will ensure a secure water supply throughout the driest of summers.

All through winter the vegie beds have produced an abundance of cabbage, silver beet, broccoli, tree onions, potatoes & Warragul greens. This produce has been used to provide warming soups during the coldest of the garden working bees.

On the first Sunday of each month, popular garden workshops have been held at the garden. A highlight workshop during the year was run by local Koorie elder Doris Paton and her niece Holly, “Plants of Significance to the Gunai Kurnai”. This hands-on presentation introduced indigenous food plants and other useful plants of the area. An enjoyable afternoon was spent tasting some of these foods and weaving baskets from locally sourced materials.

These workshops will continue to be a highlight of the garden calendar as even more topics and activities are being planned.

The community’s vision for this garden has been to create an edible feast, a place of sharing, education & artistic expression and this is well on the way. We hope that the garden will be a destination for locals and visitors to our district as we continue to build sustainability for our region.

The official Yinnar & District Community Garden Launch is on 18th November 2012, and we hope that as many people as possible will join us as we celebrate what we have achieved to date.

For further information contact Catheryn Thompson at YinnarCG@telstra.com. Please like our facebook page: Yinnar & District Community Garden.