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Community garden brings new life to Gymea-Miranda

Miranda Community Garden is a project of Gymea-Miranda Uniting Church.  This garden, which makes use of otherwise vacant land, has great potential for building relationships in the community, including across cultures, by growing food together, and sharing meals and recipes.

Miranda Community Garden (the MCG!) is an activity of Gymea-Miranda Uniting Church and open to anyone and everyone.  It is situated on the land adjacent to the church with several blocks of units overlooking.  

How did the garden start?

The church was going to develop the two adjacent blocks of land at 15 and 17 Central Road to provide units and a new church. However the developer was unable to access sufficient funding for the proposed project, and after seven years of planning, the project fell through.  A group of five retired men from the church had been meeting monthly for dinner, and also helping other congregants with their own gardens.  The MCG was their idea.  After a period of research into community gardens and conversations with the church council and the broader church, a decision was made to go ahead in November 2009.  Half of the space on the block next to the church is occupied by the garden, with the other half used for parking and other purposes.

Why did the church get involved?

The church agreed to support the community garden project because of the potential for building relationships within the local community.  There is great potential for sharing, including across cultures, by growing food together, sharing meals and recipes.  The church also wanted to make good use of its vacant land, to share the love of Christ through practical activity, and to see more young people and families connected with the church in some way.

What goes on at the garden?

The garden covers an area of approximately 700 square metres.  20 garden beds are planned (communal beds and beds for individuals/families/groups), with 11 built so far.  The garden also includes citrus trees and herb gardens, native plants and flowers.  A 5000 litre water tank, which collects water from the roof of the church hall, provides water.  There are working bees at the garden on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturdays of the month, and participants share morning tea together (often provided by members of the church who are unable to garden).  

What is the organisational structure of the garden?

The garden is a project of the church, and covered by the church’s public liability insurance.  Garden membership is open to all members of the community, and currently, about half of the participants come from outside of church.  For example, the garden’s chairperson is from a nearby Catholic church.  There is a set of community garden rules, and new members sign a garden agreement.

How does the garden link with other activities of the church?

The community garden has provided the church with an important new outreach.  Some of the ways that the garden connects with other parts of the life of the church are:

  • A church fete is held every October, including garden information and activities.
  • A harvest festival is held each year.

Who is involved in the garden, and what community partnerships have been involved?

The garden has around 30 members, about half from the church congregation.  However, as garden membership gradually grows, this is changing.  Each garden working bee, the garden receives queries from a couple of potential new members.  So far, the garden project has built relationships with the local Lioness Club, and the local paper – the Sutherland Shire Leader – has run an article.  The garden hopes to involve local schools in the project.  

What are the funding needs of the garden and where does the funding come from?

The major costs involved in the project have been the water tank (with pump, diverter, connections and lock taps), semi-raised garden beds, compost bins, equipment and supplies.  Costs have been covered as follows:

  • A water tank and associated plumbing was funded in part by a donation from Bunnings ($300), an anonymous donation, and a discount from the plumber.
  • The church was awarded $5,000 from the New Missional Gatherings Seed Fund Grant, which it is using to meet some of the above costs.
  • The garden was granted $2000 from the Second Chance shop (operated by the Gymea-Miranda parish).
  • Parishioners donated garden tools and equipment, including two wheelbarrows from the Ladies Auxiliary

Establishment of the garden has actually resulted in a reduction in maintenance by the church of what was a vacant lot.

What challenges were faced in establishing the community garden, and how were these addressed?

It took some time for the congregation to support the garden concept, with concerns particularly about the potential for vandalism.  A lockable fence has now been put up around the church property (including the garden), and also, the church has been reassured by the experience of community gardens elsewhere that the more people involved and the stronger the community relationships, the less the likelihood of vandalism.  The church is now entirely on board with the project.  Now, the garden group works to meet the day to day challenges of gardening – such as cockatoos and fruit bats!

More information

Address: 15/17 Central Rd, Miranda NSW 2228
Garden website: http://www.gm-uniting.org.au/garden.htm
Church website: http://www.gm-uniting.org.au
Garden contact: Marise Myers (Chairperson) 9526 7920 or Brian Sowerby 0421 868 030
Church contact: Brian Sowerby 0421 868 030