Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

In the last 12 years, the beloved community garden in Devonport, Tasmania has become a hub for local residents, where they come together for a range of activities. The garden is very popular among volunteers, seniors and the elderly, schools and people with disabilities in the community. For these groups in particular, the Community Garden is a place to socialise, grow and harvest local produce and get some fresh air.

Devonport Community House (DCH) has overseen the care and maintenance of the garden and surrounding areas since 1938. When they noticed the deteriorating condition of the wooden sleepers containing each of the more than 30 garden beds, they knew it was time for an upgrade.

 With a $10,909 donation by the Thyne Reid Foundation, the DCH were able to purchase “ewood” sleepers to replace the rotten wooden sleepers. The ewood sleepers are more durable and are made of recycled plastic that will ensure at least 50 years of garden bed life, making them a sustainable investment for the Community Garden. 

The process of replacing the wooden sleepers took only a few weeks and has helped to give new life to the Community Garden that has already given so much to the residents of Devonport. These improvements have not only increased the longevity of the garden but have also increased food security for the 20-50 people a week who access the garden through FoodShed, a food distribution organisation that helps farmers make profit.

In the 12 years that the garden has been operational, DCH has been able to see the joy it has given many of the residents. With the long life expectancy of the ewood sleepers, the success and activity around the garden looks set to continue long into the future.

The Camperdown Community Garden was originally established in 2009. Through research and analysis conducted in 2017, it was identified that the Camperdown Community Garden had not been functioning in a way that allows this community asset to fulfill the space’s academically established benefits like “enhancing the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being necessary to build healthy and socially sustainable communities.” Considerable work in rebuilding the management and physical structure of the garden was required to address this. 

Much of the local rural area, in Victoria’s south-west, supports the dairy industry which has been impacted by the drought. As a result, the Camperdown & District Community House was seeing an increase in demand for emergency food relief and social support services. Camperdown is a strong community however, the impact of mental health issues, social isolation and drug and alcohol abuse has significant impact on social cohesion and health and wellbeing.

As part of a revamp, the Gardiner Dairy Foundation’s Working in Dairy Communities Small Grant allowed the Camperdown & District Community House to vastly improve the community garden space.

Four new above ground garden beds were designed, built and installed, with additional soil and compost to replenish depleted existing beds. A new accessible gravel path at rear of garden and around the new accessible garden beds was also added.

New garden guidelines and signage was also implemented, allowing individual gardeners to communicate and connect with the broader community. Using the boards, for example, to communicate what they are currently planting, or why they are planting what they are planting, when the produce will be ready to harvest, or other useful and educational information. 

New tools were also purchased that will be usable by people of diverse abilities.

“A friendly and inclusive community / stronger social fabric” has been identified as the primary outcome achieved from this project, with the following being the main reasons why this was identified as the primary outcome, and what we believe the most successful elements of the project to be.

This project was a tremendous success and a delight for everyone who participated in the process.