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FAQs

This page (Frequent Asked Questions) is compiled to help provide answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding the community garden. If your question is not answered here, please feel free to post your inquiry to us at the bottom of the page.
Last Update: 12-12-2012
Where is the Community Garden? In December 2012, Lake Macquarie City Council (LMCC) voted that the DA for the community garden be allowed to proceed in the open, grassed area in Bunya Park (corner of Cherry Rd and Macquarie Dr). The site is in a very prominent location, close to the foreshore cycleway/walkway and has a number of necessary facilities including an accessible toilet, sunny aspect and enough space for everyone who already use the park. The group considers this to be an ideal location and would very much like to hear your feedback about the proposal.


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Who can join? Anyone can volunteer to become a community gardener. We have already received strong support from a very diverse range of people eager to learn about gardening, growing and sustainability. The “One Garden” approach will be adopted to ensure that all gardeners will have the opportunity to contribute to the facility rather than using plot allocations which would only provide opportunity to a select few.
How much does it cost? Membership is $30 per family (2 adults & children), $20 per adult, $10 Student / Concession, and children (up to the end of high school) are free. Your membership fee covers the various administration costs such as insurance and some operational materials.
Do I need to know how to grow? Not at all. One of the primary goals is to create a place of “hands-on” education. You don’t have to know about gardening, just eager to learn. Experienced gardeners are also encouraged to participate, share their knowledge and become mentors for the newer gardeners.
Who gets the produce from the garden? Under the "One Garden" concept, any produce to be grown onsite should be shared amongst the people who contribute to the garden. The philosophy is along the lines of "pick some, leave some". Other community gardens operate in this manner very successfully, harvesting whatever is in season and often cooking and eating that produce onsite at regular working bees. Some Community Gardens report that there has been a significant increase in the diversity of gardeners cooking habits since becoming involved.
What is the purpose of the Community Garden? The WBCG project is being established to bring together the wider community of Warners Bay and surrounding suburbs with the primary goals of fostering community connection, education, friendship and understanding. WBCG will provide community education in the areas of garden design, organic food production, soil health, waste recycling through composting and mulching, worm farming and seed saving. Garden volunteers are encouraged to apply these skills in their own backyard and share their experiences with others. Landcare has also performed exemplary work in the adjoining bushland areas and the facility will provide a means to educate the wider community on the need to support these groups in the care of our environment.
Why build a community garden? Whilst young people have the benefits of advanced technology, they often lack knowledge about where our food comes from. With signs that our population is getting more obese, we need ways to improve our eating habits, especially those of our kids. In 2 generations, the average Australian family has lost the knowledge of how to grow fruits and vegetables in suburbia. The community garden group will benefit the community through knowledge sharing, strengthening community bonds and being inclusive of all sectors of the community.
Will Bunya Park still be a recreational area? Absolutely! The proposed Community Garden will not encroach into the existing recreational areas where people congregate for weekend barbeques, parties and other family outings. Much of the large open space proposed for the community garden will remain as such for many years to come, as outlined in our staged concept design.
Who would oppose such a thing as a Community Garden?
 
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As with any community project, everyone will have a slightly different view of the way things should look and operate. Some objections have already been received from concerned citizens. A small number of members of the Warners Bay Landcare group has expressed concerns about how it may impact their work in Bunya Park. The risks have been assessed by our team of experts (horticulturalists, landscape architects, civil enginners and environmental engineers) and determined that they can be very easily mitigated with correct garden design and management procedures. The community garden group is very keen to work with all existing community groups. In particular, we think there can be much to gain through synergies with groups like Landcare. We see a key opportunity for the garden to be a means to draw attention and support to the fantastic and ongoing work of Warners Bay Landcare within Bunya Park which we hope will continue into the future.
Will there be any impact on the adjoining bushland or Landcare’s bush regeneration work? The WBCG group greatly values the native ecological areas near to the proposed CG site. We have a strategy to protect the bushland and creek from any risk from nutrients, weeds or other possible impacts from gardening activities. Several members of WBCG are experts in environmental science, hydrology and weed control. WBCG is committed to protecting the local ecology, supporting Landcare’s great work and helping to educate the community about the importance of looking after our precious local ecosystems in Lake Macquarie. This includes the preservation of a wide grassed buffer zone between the garden and the bushland, careful planning and design of the site to manage the quality and quantity of stormwater flows and putting in place a nutrient soak and associated detention on the northern side of the gardening site.
Who will ensure the gardens are maintained? The Community Garden group has established an operating committee not unlike those used by council to manage sporting facilities and other public assets. The committee is required by council to manage the affairs of the allocated site in accordance to the appropriate council policies. We have also applied for funding through the NSW Community Builder programme and included in that application is sufficient funds to employ an onsite caretaker for 2-3 days a week. Incorporate this with the overwhelming enthusiasm from the general public and we will have no shortage of helpers to maintain this facility.
What will it look like? Will it be an eyesore? There are many fine examples of beautiful, well kept community gardens throughout Australia. Our concept design has been developed by a team of qualified and professional people and is available for display here. If you would like to comment on the concept design, your ideas and input will be most welcome.
Will it increase vermin (rats / mice / rabbits)? We consulted with over 20 other community gardens locally and around Australia and it was very rare that pest populations were increased over and above that of what already existed in the original environment. In the cases where there were issues, the problems were quickly rectified by simply making changes to the composting or worm farm procedures, educating the volunteers and by making the areas conducive to native wildlife such as owls, magpies and kookaburra’s to prey on the pests.
How will the gardeners deal with possums? Many other community gardens are located near bushland that support native fauna. The March Street Community Garden (Greening Centre Kotara) has a large number of possums living within the grounds of the facility and they do not cause any damage to the gardens.
Will a community garden increase vandalism? Of the 20+ community gardens interviewed the reported vandalism has been very low. It can be expected that there may be incidences of vandalism when the CG is first established but the damage is usually insignificant. The City Farms and Community Gardens Network advised us that “There is no evidence that community gardens increase the incidence of vandalism rather than suffer vandalism in areas already prone to it”. The presence of a community garden has been shown to decrease the amount of graffiti and vandalism in the surrounding neighbourhood (Maxwell 2002; Hatherley 2003; Urbis Keys Young 2004).
Shouldn’t community gardens only be on derelict land? It depends on many factors such as the purpose of the community garden, the type garden it is, the area it is servicing and the people who will benefit from the garden. The WBCG would very much encourage local residents to seek out pockets of underutilized land and start gardening. As observed in other local community garden projects, the social bonds that such projects produce are amazing. A community garden in Bunya Park would be a showpiece educational facility which could encourage a network of community gardens in Lake Macquarie.
How are the 300+ garden members & supporters counted? All members and friends of WBCG have registered either:
  1. Using our online registration form, or
  2. Telephoned Trish Jarvie directly (see Contact Us)

In each case, personal details such as contact number, email, address, family members and relevant skills are collected. Members who register through the website are followed up with a personal phone call from Trish Jarvie to welcome them and speak a bit more about the garden concept.

We do not include people signing petitions of support in our membership counts unless they have subsequently signed on as a member or friend. These are genuine community members who genuinely want a Community Garden to share.

The CG concept indicates rainwater tanks that are not connected to a building. How will they be filled? A publicly accessible rotunda is planned for construction in the second or third year of the project. Water captured from the roof of this structure will fill the tank using a charged system. More details can be found here: http://www.pic.vic.gov.au/resources/documents/4.05_Storm_water_drainage_-_charged_systems_to_rainwater_tanks.pdf
Will the garden be fenced? The plan is to avoid putting any fencing up unless absolutely necessary. Fencing will never be used to make the area a "members only" space. The idea is to keep the area as free to the general public as possible. That will be the core of a formal legal agreement with council, so it goes beyond our verbal promise to people.
We can appreciate that rabbits may cause issues and if it gets to a point that the bunnies are eating more than their fair share, fencing may be erected. This fencing would be for rabbit-proofing purposes only. This type of fence is about waist-height and made of wire mesh that extends under the ground. Spring-close gates would remain unlocked so that the garden remains freely available to the community. It is anticipated that food-bearing vines could be used in this situation to help conceal the fence too and maintain the aesthetic appeal of the garden.
How do I join or
comment on the project?
If you would like to join the community garden please visit the Register Your Support page. If you have further questions, please send them to us using the form below. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Do you have a question?

If you have a question that is not addressed on this website, please feel free to post it to us using the following form. We will endeavor to get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.

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