Permaculturists and gardeners are a sociable lot. We love to see each other and take any opportunity to have a sticky beak at how other community gardens are getting along, what’s growing, are there seedlings we can swap, “what do you have that we don’t?” and vice versa. Gardeners from the upper mountains will tell you its practically tropical in Lawson! And a couple of weeks back community gardeners from up and down the mountain had much cause to celebrate on September 27th. As well as the now essential Permaculture Blue Mountains spring seasonal gathering, we were also celebrating the first birthday of Mid Mountains Community Gardens.
After a cup of tea and a much longer than planned tour of the garden (for above mentioned reasons) traditional owners, and present day custodians Church Army were acknowledged and thanked for use of this magnificent plot of land. As well as being on the site of a historic inn, the property is a sun trap nestled in a hillside sheltered from strong winds, and with an enviable outlook over the National Park. Anton, Greg and Supapon, who are among some of our gardens founders, shared tales of the trials and tribulations of setting up a community garden. In the 21st century we don’t often partake in the establishment of new cultural institutions. When you are starting something new, the challenges of making each decision the right one can seem enormous. Tellingly, the Gardens in North Katoomba, known as Blue Mountains Community Gardens found their own way out of decision making paralysis by dissolving the very committee that had been formed to organise things. Starting is hard, and the mid mountains similarly felt that trepidation that all explorers in new territory must surely feel. Will this step be the right one? In the end the design process has to stop, the committee meetings must give way so that plants can find their way to a new home. Once plants go in, the real work begins, and differences in design and philosophy fade away into that distance past, a time ‘before the garden’.
A year on and all the organisational effort has proven to be well worth it, and our gardeners, most of whom had little gardening experience before they began, have already started learning from their mistakes, and created a veggie patch bursting with life. After an initial burst of activity to establish the garden, the mid mountains garden has settled into being a very respectable community of a half a dozen – plus – regular volunteers as well as many more supporters. Several new members (and renewing members) signed up on the day. MM Community Gardens has recently been rewarded with a Federal Volunteers Grant which will go well toward acquiring a new shed and some needed equipment, and more importantly, involving more people of our local community.
You can find the Mid Mountains Community Gardens at Kihilla, Queens Road, Lawson. Regular working bees are held on Saturday mornings from 9am until 12-ish. They are also trialling a regular Wednesday gardening day, so it would be best to call first. Gardeners young and old are welcome. Give Mid Mountains Neighbourhood Centre a call and leave a message or call Greg on 0468-33 2592 or just rock up and say hello. Bring your gloves and your enthusiasm!