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Art garden an inspiration for Newstead

September 13, 2009
Getting inspired: Carol Barker, Genevieve Barlow, Saide Gray, Mary Park, Janet Barker with Barwon Heads Community Art Garden host Faye Conners in the Barwon Heads garden.

Getting inspired: Carol Barker, Genevieve Barlow, Saide Gray, Mary Park, Janet Barker with Barwon Heads Community Art Garden host Faye Conners in the Barwon Heads garden.

Carol Barker, Saide Gray, Mary Park and myself (Genevieve Barlow) visited the Barwon Heads Community Art  Garden on September 5th along with Janet Barker who organised our visit.

We came home delighted inspired and filled with dreams and hopes of how a community garden could nurture Newstead, not just with fresh food but with art, whimsy, joy and sharing. Officially established just three years ago on council-owned land, The Barwon Heads Community Art Garden is about 60 m x 35m and is designed on organic permaculture principles.The beds are shaped to catch water on the slope. A limestone base killed their fruit trees at first but they built berms or large mounds using lots of compost and the fruit trees have flourished since.

 

Plots at 3m x 2m cost $50 a year and there’s a waiting list for them. The garden has an old school portable classroom as a meeting room with 30,000 litres of rainwater storage which it harvests from the portable rooftop, an igloo for raising seeds, a tool shed and toilet, a community area for non-plot holding community diggers to garden, a mobile chook tractor (designed and built by inmates at the Barwon Prison), a citrus circle (a circle of citrus trees)  which is also wonderful for festivities, a fenced-off sandpit and play area for children made with big old tree trunks as borders.

The front fence is a stunner. Its message is joyful and creative. The entrance gate features a mermaid with a shovel. Seven other artists will create panels to make up the fence. The garden has about 60 members, but a consistently active group of five people. Activity waxes and wanes with the seasons. Winter is quieter. Spring brings bursts of renewal in growth and activity.The garden raises funds by asking businesses and community groups to sponsor trees and shingles on the front fence. It seeks donations of specific goods such as tables and compost and straw in a local newspaper column and the community responds.

Angelic inspiration: The front fence of the Barwon heads Community Head Garden set a welcoming joyful tone and will eventually include the works of at least seven artists.

Angelic inspiration: The front fence of the Barwon heads Community Head Garden set a welcoming joyful tone and will eventually include the works of at least seven artists.

Our hosts Sam Smith and Faye Connors, though equipped with plenty of business acumen, exuded love for the garden and for the food and people it’s brought together. In a reference to peak oil, Sam’s plot features an old fishing truck. Silverbeet and chard was bursting forth from its bonnet, sides and rear. Such whimsy lends a light heartedness to the garden.

We were inspired and can see wonderful possibilities for Newstead. Watch this space as the lease for our community garden behind the Anglican Church has been signed and we’re planting our first green manure crop on September 13th. Thanks to Ron Snep for hoeing the site in preparation.

 

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