What's been happening at the Links community garden lately Matt?
Well, when we heard from you we decided to get on board with Melbourne Worm ranches because we already had plans to start a worm farm. We were thinking of going with a bathtub style and hadn't even thought of using an IBC - although we do use IBC's for garden beds. We have heaps of great resources being offered to us at the moment.
There is also a local lady that visits our garden who gets food close to it's used by date, or maybe the supermarkets don't think it's pretty enough... She feeds people in the city and also brings extra food down to the garden. People can grab what they need and then anything that is actually too old to eat gets composted onsite.
* We got to take home a huge bunch of bananas and 2 loaves of gluten free bread that we put into the freezer. Score!
We just put in a ground level indigenous garden bed and always have our eyes open for great plants, especially edibles. We got a black currant bush from Bunnings last week for $5 and put it in with the strawberries.
I made a lot of this stuff myself. I set up that little chair (super cute hand crafted chair), set up that little tipi and composting area, previously there were only a few people that were interested in helping, but there haven't been less than 6 people at our weekly meet ups in awhile...even when it's raining!
What was driving the set up of the garden?
For many years I have been going past the space on my way to work in the city thinking someone should do something with it. You can't get more central...it is right by Lalor train station, there are 7 bus lines and 2 main roads. Its been a dead space for ever and occasionally a dumping ground... people were just dropping their stuff off here and it was a liability for the council.
Two years ago I wondered if I could be the one to do something about it. I started doing some research online and got in contact with 300 acres. They have a 'how to start community garden' booklet and that helped me contact the right people. This led me to Vic track who owns the land and since then they have been sending me forms and I just keep filling them out!
There is a community liaison person at the City of Whittlesea who has been really good. So many people at the council have been supportive of the garden and have helped us in any way they can. We have also helped them out – we dont spent too long planning – too much planning can mean not enough doing!
What do you see for the garden over the next 5 years?
This was going to be a traditional community garden but we are now hoping this will be a sustainability park. There are a lot of small groups in this area– the Chinese association, the Macedonian association who don't have their own space. They are just using the council space and we realised early on that we have a lot of space that only gets used a couple of times a week. We have put ourselves out there to get a tram which will be used as a community hall and a shipping container to be converted into a cafe. There aren't a lot of spaces for young people to hang out and we hope this space will be utilised like that. When I was a kid there was a youth cafe nearby...it was much better than hanging out at the shopping centre! I know what its like to be a kid and I feel really happy to create a space that is free for people to use. People can come down here and have a tea or coffee and feel welcome.
What is Lalor like now and what do you think will happen in the future?
Lalor is a really great place – there are lots of Middle Eastern and Asian shops and a great variety of different foods available. There are lots of different people living here. There is an aging community but this area is going to change a lot in the next 5 years. At the moment it's not known for being that inclusive and we want to change that.
In the 40's and 50's it was all veterans of WW2. The first part to be built was the Peter Lalor housing estate. It is Australia's only war memorial housing estate. That is just the three blocks across the road from the garden. The Vasey kinder was the original building until the last few years and it was purposely built for the community back then. The design was thoughtful... it was at the centre of the housing estate - the safest spot if any of the kids wandered off! Lalor has a really cool history.