Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2021) . . Page.. 2079 ..
What am I talking about that could meet so many needs in the community? The answer is community gardens.
My office recently visited Crace and Mitchell community gardens, and I was inspired by the role that these gardens play in the community. The wonderful volunteers at Crace showed me around their garden and spoke to me about the joys and challenges of running a community garden. The Crace community garden donates food to the Mustard Seed Pantry at Gungahlin Uniting Church, which provides low-cost food for those in need or on low incomes. The garden includes a native bee hotel, which is home to many species of local bees. The garden also brings together its diverse members for social activities, including barbecues.
The convenor of the Mitchell community garden told us that a key contribution of community gardens is their role in reducing loneliness and combating mental health, especially for older residents. Narelle described how a disabled man, as part of his NDIS plan, has a support worker who helps him to get out of his house and visit the Mitchell community garden. He cannot physically garden anymore, but enjoys the opportunity to socialise with fellow gardeners and reduce his social isolation.
Most community gardens, including Crace and Mitchell, have a waiting list because the gardens just cannot keep up with the demand from the community. This is a testament to how valuable they are to the community.
For example, the Canberra Organic Growers Society—COGS—operate 12 community gardens in the ACT, including three in Yerrabi. They are completely run by volunteers and have limited capacity to expand existing gardens or create new garden locations. Some gardens operated by COGS are aiming to make their gardens more accessible for people living with a disability and older citizens—another important and inclusive service to the community.
It is essential when planning for the future of Canberra that we allocate space and resources for community gardens. As the volunteers shared with me, finding a location for a garden is not always easy. They need sun, shade, water and space. It is harder to retrofit them than to plan for them right from the start.
I hope, moving forward, that I can explore the options for supporting these important cornerstones in the community. I would love to see more gardens in my electorate, and hope that we can see new gardens to accommodate the high demand and reduce the waiting lists. I invite anyone in the community who is interested in starting a community garden to reach out to my office so that I can support you and connect you with the right people.
Finally, I would like to thank the volunteers at COGS and at the Crace and Mitchell community gardens. Thank you for the time you have invested in our community, and thank you for making it a brighter, healthier, stronger and more inclusive community.
MS ORR (Yerrabi) (4.49): I am here to present a speech about school action regarding the environment and sustainable practices, written by Katie Jakab, who is