The Community Garden is organic and has been designed using permaculture principles.
The whole site consists of 5 acres, and is divided by a creek.
On the eastern side of the creek lie the majority of fruit and nut trees and vegetable, herb and flower beds. There are two major building structures, the mud brick shed, an outdoor summer classroom with blackboard and various attached water collection tanks. This side is also where various art works and structures have been located along with the labyrinth and performance circle. It’s the light green part on this map which shows the different permitted usage zoning which you can see is different in the fruit and vegetable growing areas. The west of the creek and some areas besides are zoned environmental protection whereas the main areas under cultivation are listed for recreation.
The west side flanking the car park has been developed into an Aboriginal Bush Food Garden. This project has being developed with Blue Mountains City Council, Aboriginal and Cultural Resource Centre and TAFE. The first phase completed has been helped along by a GreenCore a Work for the Dole project. The incredible growth however lies with the la nina cycle of wet weather which has brought the garden to a very respectable dense growth within its relatively short (4 year) history.
Restoring the waterways
The garden has received grants pertaining to water in its past, and this continues to be a dominant theme in developing the site. Much work has been done to slow down the water flow run off from the road and storm water, to prevent pollution from big bits of rubbish down to finer particles of pollutants, etc from joining this creek which runs through the gardens and eventually leads down to Minnihaha Waterfall and Katoomba Creek. Through testing with streamwatch we have seen good water quality results, which are taken well down stream of our organic annual beds and veg gardening activities.
The garden primarily consists of:
- The orchard which mainly contains apple trees, and crab apple trees. Other fruit trees dotted around the garden include, pears, quinces, plums, old fashioned cherry bushes. There are over 60 apple trees in total.
- A great deal of bush regeneration has been achieved with planting of hundreds of native trees.The Apple Walk with all heritage varieties of trees.
- This leads to the Labyrinth on the left and the performance circle on the right.
- Flanking the Labyrinth is the Hazelnut Hedge, which leads onto the orchard.
- The vegetable gardens, herb beds and flower beds which are in various shapes and sizes are to the right of the Apple walk and surrounding our mud brick shed.
- Behind the horse shoe bed is the Women’s Circle with the cob oven and circle of Umoboshi Plum trees.
- The irrigation system is still being developed. We have 4 water tanks.
- Our worm farm is maintained by a lovely lady around the corner who comes and feeds them everyday when she picks grass for her guinea pigs.
- A central piece of the flower and vegetable garden is a large mosaic sculpture the Buttress Rooted Mother Mary Sculpture. Around this area we are planning to put in a young children’s playground with mosaic toadstool tables, willow houses, an arch covered in kiwi fruit and climbing lizards and play equipment.
- On the opposite site to the orchard we are developing an area where three large swales have been for a while, approximately 40 metres long. We have developed the highest into a long no-dig bed which will contain a rotation of potatoes, pumpkin and corn. Local schools are involved in this project.
Bush Food Garden
At last our Aboriginal Bush Food Garden has started on the western side of the watercourse. Designed by Adam Chapman of the Aboriginal Culture & Resource Centre in conjunction with Blue Mountains City Council and Richmond TAFE. The project sees the native vegetation of the area restored as well as identifying plants that have cultural uses of importance to Aboriginal people. The project provides a chance for Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people to be involved and to learn more about native plants and their traditional uses. For information about the project or to find out how you can be involved please call ACRC or email email@example.com.
The Heritage Apple Tree walk
There is nothing more delightful than a summer afternoon in the apple tree walk.
The walk features in Episode 10 of Costa’s Garden Odyssey along with our Vikings! the heritage apple walk was established by people of the Blue Mountains sponsoring trees. Here’s the original list of trees and some of the donors who helped make it possible. (click on the photo to see the details).
Traditional materials and techniques are being used to develop a demonstration site. Simple wooden structures and vegetable gardens present a quaint old display of traditional viking life, until the actual vikings turn up that is!
To the north of the west side of the creek a Medieval recreation site is being developed. Initially the preparation involves removal of weeds, using bush regeneration principles. Eventually gardens will be established, a well put in and a cob house built. This section will create their own tools and become self sufficient of modern resources.
This garden sits in the middle of gardens defined as ‘riparian zone’ under that classification of the council’s maps. The broader area flash floods during the bigger rains up here, even with all the water slowing measures taking place on the creek. It also neighbours a remnant swamp which is marked out by stakes in this area, where no development will be taking place. Our swamps up here, however marginal are valuable ecosystem spaces and it’s still not known exactly how they relate to the overall groundwater supplies in the mountains. We do know how vital habitat is to some of our rarer wildlife which has been observed in our gardens, like the giant burrowing frog.
Events Courses and Workshops
Every Friday morning the community gardeners meet at the gardens to work together, join us for our regular working bee at 10:30/11am til 2pm. Bring yourself, your hat and something for the pot. When gardening stops we share a pot of hearty soup.
Sue and Kat’s Permaulture Design Course will be featuring the community gardens in Spring. Take the holidays to learn all about the practical principles and ethics that helped shape this beautiful community plot.
We’re delighted to have taken part in National Permaculture Day in 2012 and our next big event will be The Festival of Joy on the first Sunday in October.
TAFE Fruit and Nut Tree Growing in the Blue Mountains returns September 8th — Introducing the Basics and More with Sue Girard.
In previous years, the community gardeners have run workshops on pruning, fruit and nut tree maintenance, composting, worm farming, edible flowers, cool climate vegetable growing, kitchen gardening in small spaces, organic pest control and seed saving.
We’d love to hear your ideas for the future, so if there’s an event or workshop you’d like to see or run yourself at the Gardens, or with help from the community gardeners please get in touch. There’s a wealth knowledge and experience in gardening, sustainability, bush and stream regeneration and restoration, horticulture, building garden structures, land management, integrated pest management, organic growing, as well as arts, pottery, mosaic and music making and lots more. Register your interest by leaving a message on this page, or better still, come visit one of our regular Friday morning working bees, stay for lunch and share your ideas.
Every year, as close to apple blossom time as we an make it (August/September) there’s a Festival of Joy, bringing talented artists and musicians together for a family friendly community gathering. Please get in touch if you’re interested in steering, volunteering, or playing on the day!