The Warrnambool Community Gardens is a common ground where all people are welcome to come together in the spirit of mutual support and friendship to learn, grow, nurture, produce and share.
The W.C.G supports around 150 members, 50 individual plot holders, a communal garden, a designated herb garden, a market garden, a ‘Chook Hilton’, a bush food garden with indigenous acknowledgement of the Maar (Gunditjmara) people as the original custodians of the land and a soon to be established Kitchen Garden Program for Kids. This space will provide a beautiful, productive edible garden that supports pleasurable food education for kids using environmentally friendly ‘Wicking Beds’ as a point of difference.
Heather from the W.C.G. said they continually foster relationships with local business, organisations and schools by sharing resources and reaping the rewards of their generosity too. She said “as an example, we recently supported a new regional composting facility being built locally with our volunteers propagating and planting over 1000 native species around the walls of their newly constructed dam, in return a truckload of compost”.
Three years ago, W.C.G. volunteers established a relationship with the Warrnambool East Primary School to ‘grow’ a School Kitchen Garden. They started the program on a shoestring budget working hard to gain donations from local business and community groups, to now supporting a program teaching 120 Grade 3 & 4 students in the seasonal cycle of growing and harvesting produce, culminating with their efforts in the kitchen to produce delicious meals to enjoy at a shared table.
The W.C.G connects with the community through a midweek Garden Market, which is an important fundraiser. The Garden Market has been running for three years, supporting local producers and small business by providing them with a platform to showcase their locally grown food, produce and preserves.
In 2020, two ‘Green Thumbs’ volunteers started raising seedlings using fresh, but leftover seed from the seed packets of other plot holders to avoid waste or out of date seed, selling seedlings to garden members and the general community through a small stall at the Garden Market. Before long, they had a thriving little enterprise which led to the expansion in 2021 of the growing ‘Green Thumbs’ team to eight, producing 1000’s of seedlings and propagating herbs and perennials from their own Herb Garden. Funds raised support the employment of a Garden Manager two days a week who organises maintenance and oversees small infrastructure projects. Previously, they relied on grants and philanthropic donations to pay wages but with our fundraising efforts now in place we are moving towards self sufficiency. Heather mentioned “that cultivating that community spirit is important to us here, sharing knowledge with workshops, providing friendship and support when needed, giving care and attention to the environment and bringing inspiration and enthusiasm to all we do. We compost, recycle, reuse and repurpose and it just gets better and better”.