Our garden started as an idea by Anne van Veen, who believed there was demand for a community garden in Blairgowrie. Anne asked for local residents to join her to help bring her vision to life. In August 2018 Council granted us a lease over 2 unused tennis courts at Stringer Reserve Blairgowrie. This plot of land was underutilized and our garden has converted it into a use-able community area. The old tennis courts are asphalt which meant that in order to have veggie beds we had to build raised timber gardens and import all soil, manure and compost onto the site.
We were fortunate to have the generous support of well known and successful garden designer Fiona Brokhoff who prepared a master plan for the garden. Fiona and her family have been great supporters of the garden.
The garden has grown in stages. During stage 1, we built our first four large raised timber garden beds to plant our first batch of veggies donated by Bunnings. We quickly grew to a membership of around 30 family members. It was very exciting for everyone to finally getting plants in the ground.
In early 2019 we completed Stage 2 which tripled our garden beds, we built 3 large composting bins, and installed a 22,500 litre water tank with assistance of a grant from the Federal Government via Greg Hunt. The water pump was donated by Davey Pumps and Sorrento Rotary Club paid for materials to complete our watering systems. In the early day we handled large volumes of timber, soil and mulch by hand through a narrow gate into the fenced off area. Maw Civil came to the rescue and donated and supplied our large double gate to give truck access direct into the garden area making life much easier.
Stage 3 in late 2019 saw the completion of 6 wicking beds (via a Bendigo Community Bank grant), a large pergola which will be the central shaded hub of the garden and a children's play area. Some of our major works were built with the assistance of volunteers from the newly formed Point Nepean Mens Shed. The children's area now has 2 timber boats donated by members.
By the end of 2019 are garden was really looking in great condition with around 74 family members.
After the closure of the garden due to Covid in March 2020, the garden reopened in May and with number restrictions and social distancing rules being respected. Members held a working bee in late June and built new garden beds along the south west corner fence and in the back area of the garden. Our "orchard" area was prepared and this runs along the northern fence line. A garden shed was donated by Bob Ironmonger and members erected it so we could store of our tools and equipment. Plans are afoot for a potting shed and a hothouse.
The Blairgowrie Community Garden is a not for profit volunteer group and all funds raised are put back into the garden. The original committee chose to make the garden beds communal and not offer private plots. This has been most successful with members sharing the work and the rewards. If we have excess produce, we donate them to a local food charity. Members have free access to the garden to work when it suits them - currently respecting the maximum of 10 people allowed.
We have an enthusiastic Committee and a 5 year plan. The council and their staff have been very supportive of our new garden. Our local traders and suppliers have been very generous and we thank them all for assisting the garden.
Fundraising was very important to get The Blairgowrie Community Garden up and running and our fundraising drives have been very successful. We've had sausage sizzles at Bunnings Rosebud, street stalls at Blairgowrie Village shops selling plants and wine drives.
Our Official Opening
Sunday 17th March 2019 was the official opening of our new garden. We were surprised and delighted by the fantastic turnout by members, official guests and local residents. It was wonderful to see so many different community groups all coming together to support our work in turning some unusable neglected aslphalt tennis courts in to a working garden for the whole community. We have a long way to go but everyone was impressed by our great achievements since September.
We had so many invited guests attend it will be hard to list them all. We had representatives from Sorrento Community Centre, other community gardens, Sorrento Rotary, Point Nepean Mens Shed, Diggers Club, local traders, and staff from Mornington Council. Special mention must go to our three levels of Goverment who attended:
Greg Hunt, our Federal Member for Flinders and Minister for Health; his office arranged a grant to pay for our water tank
Bryan Payne and Hugh Fraser, our local Nepean Ward Councilors; they were instrumental in getting our placement at Stringer reserve and a Council grant
Chris Brayne, our new State Member for Nepean
Our Group Convener, Anne van Veen made a welcome speech, followed by Greg Hunt, and then Bryan Payne. We marked our opening with a ceremonial planting of a fig tree by Peter Salthouse our oldest member, and Ty Brunner our youngest member. What an amazing mix of ages with 77 years between them.
Peter Salthouse and Ty Brunner plant the fig tree at our opening day
Check out our video
Mornington Peninsula Shire helped us out with a "Placemaking Grant" to get us established.
They made a video at our garden to give other community groups an example of what can be
done with a Placemaking Grant.
We are thrilled that Council chose to make the video about our garden.
Click on the image below to see the video on Youtube