Community gardens: old skills for a new world

Southern Highlands News, 29 May 2013, Author, Jill Cockram. More articles from the CANWin column.

Upgrading the shade house at Moss Vale Community GardenThink Eat Save That’s the theme for this year’s World Environment Day, next Wednesday 5th June.

It sounds good, but where can you learn how to make it work?

One place is at a community garden. It can give you experience with skills that Nannas and Grandpops learnt as a matter of course, and work out how to combine them with new information and technologies for a better life in the digital age.

The Highlands now has two community gardens, at Moss Vale and Bundanoon. They can be great demonstration sites for:

  • Eating with the seasons for fresher food and to reduce imports
  • Knowing what will grow locally
  • Growing lots of organic food in our own backyards and town green spaces
  • Understanding the cycles of life (saving seed for next season’s crops)
  • Learning how to build structures using renewable materials (strawbale, mudbrick)
  • Strategies to lower your environmental footprint – solar energy, recycling, sustainable transport, chemical-free food production, preserving the harvest

Community gardeners are developing ways to cope well with disruptions to familiar food growing cycles. Plants thrive within their own range of temperatures, as we find out when we try to grow things outside their comfort zone – mangoes in the Highlands?? As our climatic zones change, the staple foods that farmers can grow are also changing. More catastrophic weather events could also cause food shortages. Remember the banana shortage a few years ago?

And at a community garden you can re-learn something extra that Nanna knew: a job like bottling a tree’s worth of apples is fun and efficient with a group of friends, but hard yakka if you’re beavering away for hours alone at home.

The Highlands has two community gardens, at Railway Street, Moss Vale ( and Ellsmore Street, Bundanoon ( Check the websites for opening times, or come and meet people at next week’s events.

Environment week events

Tuesday June 4: CANWin Speaker Night with climatologist Dr Blair Trewin from the Bureau of Meteorology. 7pm at the Council Civic Centre Theatrette in Moss Vale.

Wednesday June 5: Moss Vale Community Garden workshops worm farming. 1.30pm at the Garden

Friday June 7: Open Garden at the Quarter Acre Farm, 18 Hood St, Mittagong

Sunday June 9: Bundanoon Community Garden presents the premiere of “Symphony of Soils”. 3pm at the Council Civic Centre Theatrette.

2013 WED Logo

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