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Food and friendships flourish at community gardens


Sharlene King
22 June 2011
Community gardens continue to sprout across the Northern Rivers, but are residents lending support by rolling up their sleeves, getting their hands dirty and sharing in the fruits of the labour?

Kara Baker, a Southern Cross University Bachelor of Environmental Science with Honours candidate, is keen to gauge the level of support for community gardens throughout the region. Her project investigates the social, environmental and economic elements needed to set up a successful community garden.

“Community support is extremely important to the overall success of any community-based initiative. Without it your chances of success are low,” said Kara.

Kara said community gardens were areas of public or private land set aside to grow and harvest fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. By sharing the workload everyone gets to share in the produce.

“Community food gardens are one way for the community to enjoy vacant public land. Not only can people grow their own fresh food, but they can also interact with other local people and undertake exercise at the same time,” the 24-year-old Lismore student said.

“In addition to the social benefits, community gardens also have economic benefits such as the reduced need for food purchase from supermarkets. They’re also seen as an environmentally-friendly form of agriculture because of the low food miles involved and the general low use of synthetic pesticides and other chemicals.”

The Northern Rivers region currently has a handful of established community gardens, like Lismore and Mullumbimby, with many more in the planning or early development stages.

The survey is designed to assess the level of support for community gardens within the Ballina, Byron, Clarence, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond and Tweed local government areas.

Alternatively, you can email Kara at [email protected]

Photo: At the Lismore Community Garden, Kara Baker, a Southern Cross University Bachelor of Environmental Science Honours student. Media opportunity: Kara Baker is available for interview.