A long held dream

Okines Community House Inc. involvement with the Community Garden Project began in July 2002 when it agreed to auspice the Community Garden. However the concept of a Community Garden in the Southern Beaches area had undoubtedly originated long before this period. The “dream” of the Garden Group at that time was to create a community garden for the people of the Dodges Ferry, Carlton and Lewisham area. To provide a safe, secure environment to undertake the growing of vegetables. It was intended to be organic, child safe, include provision for a frog habitat as well as adopt water efficient practices.

The concept of the garden has evolved over time reflecting different volunteers perspectives as well as being influenced by environmental and cultural changes. The enthusiasm for the project has remained consistently high. The Garden Group of 2009 identified several key areas to focus on as part of the project, including:

  • a herb labyrinth
  • sale of produce via the market
  • involvement of students from the Dodges Ferry Primary School
  • cooking classes with the fresh produce
  • helping needy people in the community
  • growing native and fruit trees
  • depot for green waste
  • a mulcher for community use
  • an experimental garden to determine best plants for the area
  • workshops to teach growing techniques and crop rotation etc.

Over the years funding was obtained from various sources to purchase a 6×9 shed and slab, 5000 litre water tank, irrigation system, tools and equipment and raised garden beds all of which have been placed on the site. Prior to the advent of a dedicated Project Officer, progress at the Community Garden site had been intermittent as it was heavily dependent upon volunteer labour being available. For this reason in 2010 it was agreed by the committee of the Okines Community House that for the project to achieve its full potential it would require a Project Officer committed to the role of coordinating the events and activities of the garden.

Project Officer Funding

Okines Community House Inc. applied for and received funding from the Community Support Levy Tasmanian Health & Wellbeing Grants Program 2010 to create a one year Project Officer position for the Okines Community Garden. The Project Officer role is for 15 hours per week. Gabe Gartrell and Claire Boost were chosen to share this role on a job share basis which has proven to be an extremely successful arrangement providing additional value for money.