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The SPN Community Garden Community agriculture in a southern NSW town

Take the right road, follow the right turns, and tucked away in the backblocks of Nowra you will find the SPN Community Garden.

The garden occupies land on the edge of a large block owned by a religious organisation, There, on the edge of the bush, are garden beds sprouting with pumpkin, beans, tomato, corn and so much more.

This, the SPN Community Garden is the work of the Shoalhaven Permaculture Network, SPN, a group that believes life is better when you eat what you grow.

A productive patch on the edge of the bush

Like a rampant bean vine

Like a rampant bean vine, community gardening is showing vigourous growth. It's growth that began to pick up speed in the late 1990s and has grown ever since. Its current growth spurt started perhaps a decade ago. In that 20 or so years community gardening has spread from an activity of the social fringe into the social mainstream. Now, it spans town and city, age group and social class.

The existence of a community garden in a small southern NSW regional city attests to how far community gardening has come in the 23 years since the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network was born at a seminar at Randwick Community Centre in Sydney.

Having local and state government as well as communities recognise community gardening as a valid urban landuse was a goal of the Network, a goal which it accomplished. Where there was once none there are now local government policies to enable community gardening. The popularity of this community-based form of urban agriculture attracts coverage in magazines, television, radio and online media.

Jane Mowbray finds somethng edible.

A fortunate find

None could have been happier at finding the SPN Community Garden than community gardens network membership coordinator, Jane Mowbray, when she quit the city for life in Nowra.

Jane has for years been an establishing presence at Glovers Garden in the inner-urban suburb of Lilyfield, in Sydney, NSW's first community garden dating back to 1985. There, she learned of the trials and tribulations, the joys and opportunities of gardening in the convivial company of others and of taking responsibility for a patch or urban land. Now, she shares her knowledge with the SPN crew.

The photos that follow show life in the garden, both vegetable and human. Join us for a visual tour…

Rampant, rambunctious… they are the words that come to mind when walking through this productive community garden.
A tasty and warming bite awaits the community gardener prepared to chomp on these chillies.
Integrated pest management is practiced in the SPN Community Garden. Here, an insect pest trap awaits its victims.
The intense purple of bean flowers promise a harvest to come.
Purple flowers, purple pods. What colour are the beans inside?
Fiona Campbell, visiting from Sydney, helps Jane Mowbray fix a trellis in the SPN Community Garden.
The skin is corrugated and rough, but the flesh is strong and juicy. The double-flanged leaf tells us that this is makrut lime, a flavouring added to South East Asian cuisine.
Purple harvest.
It is one of those constant chores in the community garden — watering. Managing irrigation is critical to healthy plant growth and an abundant harvest.
Jane harvests beans. It has been a good season for beans in Nowra.
Raised garden beds full of edibles signify the start of a community garden cuisine.
Want to call the gardeners together? There's a triangle for that.
The afternoon's work ready for the pot.

👣Russ Grayson — journalist, photojournalist, wanderer

Created By
Russ Grayson
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Credits:

Photos and story by Russ Grayson — https://pacific-edge.info

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