Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Community garden growth

There's plans to expand the reach of the Goulburn Valley Community Gardens - starting with the development of one in north Shepparton

RIAHN SMITH February 14, 2013 11:50am

Goulburn Valley Community Gardens co-ordinator Susan Hose

Expansion plans are on the horizon for a community garden project and co-ordinator Susan Hosecom:Susan Hose is not afraid of gettting her hands dirty.

She’s involved with Goulburn Valley Community Gardenscom:Goulburn Valley Community Gardens coordinator and has been working tirelessly to develop the North Shepparton Community Gardencom:North Shepparton Community Garden into a co-ordinated network of multiple garden sites.

Already there are four potential sites lined up.

Ms Hose is excited about the prospect of reaching more people in the Goulburn Valley area.

‘‘We want to network with the ones that are already in place and we want to build further beds around Shepparton,’’ she said.

‘‘We have so many places that are just ugly, blank pieces of dirt that could be used for something beneficial (but) there’s so much to do just to get set up — public liability insurance, all the grants, the equipment.

‘‘If we can say we’ve already got this in place... we’ve got this equipment, and we’ve got these plants and people in place that are networked, we can support you and build things with you.’’

Community gardens provide locals groups and individuals with the chance to grow their own food while being supported by other, like-minded people.

The North Shepparton site hosts a mix of private garden beds and those open to everyone, as well as everything you need to nourish an organic fruit or vegetable crop.

Ms Hose said the project could offer valuable lessons and skills in self-sufficiency.

‘‘With all the talk about climate change, whether you believe it or not, the gardens are actually essential for keeping environments safe as well as keeping people healthy,’’ Ms Hose said.

‘‘If we have problems with food scarcity, if we’re building our own gardens... instead of relying heavily on all the imported stuff or the sprayed things, if we’re actually able to feed ourselves and feed our community it actually builds and supports our community much better.’’

But it’s not only the environmental or health outcomes the organisation is looking for — for Ms Hose, many of the benefits are found in personal growth and the development of community connections.

She recalled a recent incident where a group of kids at the North Shepparton Community Hub united over their devastation when their strawberry plants were vandalised.

‘‘They’re really tough kids, the ones that have fallen through the cracks, that have had a tough life and don’t care about anything (and) they got really upset because somebody had been ripping up the strawberries and dumping them on the ground,’’ Ms Hose said.

‘‘They were picking the plants up and putting them in water and trying to look after them.

‘‘To me, that is such an amazing thing. I get tingling just thinking about that because they’re taking ownership.’’

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