Annual General Meeting November 2013

President’s Report: Tina Jackson

2013 was a year of consolidation for Mosman Community Gardeners, as well as new successes. We doubled the size of the gardens, introducing new approaches such as vertical gardens, square metre gardens and wicking beds; expanded and deepened our partnerships and support; extended our outreach program; and built a much needed shade structure to improve the garden’s amenity and allow us to expand our education and events program.

Highlights of 2013

Doubling of Mackie Lane Garden
Mackie Lane was again transformed with the addition of 87 square metres to our original garden. Construction continued over the 2012/13 summer months thanks to a dedicated hard working group of volunteers who built garden beds with hardwood pallet bases and donated recycled hardwood fencing. During the summer holidays we welcomed numerous visitors to Mackie Lane, many of who became new members. The 4m banner prominently seen from Military Road attracted much interest and helped promote our community garden’s location and activities. Over winter we continued to build new beds in readiness for groups of children from Middle Harbour After School Care and Bond Street Montessori.

Each month we celebrated with food and drinks on the first Sunday of the month. In October Mosman Community Gardeners hosted a fun afternoon for Grandparents Day. The celebration coincided with the two-year anniversary of the first Mackie Lane working bee.

Innovation and inspiration
We experimented with new approaches to inspire community and home gardeners such as square metre beds modeled on the work of Lolo Houbein; vertical gardens using roof guttering and pallets on their sides secured with steel posts to grow strawberry runners. With the expansion of the garden the task of watering and the amount of water required is also growing. In response we built raised beds that virtually watered themselves using a wicking system. With a few bamboo sticks, string, bricks and pots and pea seeds we built a productive cubby house for the kids – a pea teepee. Another garden highlight was the Mackie Lane fence awash with colourful sweet peas that delighted passers by, especially the residents of The Manors and Mackie Lane.

A new landmark
Driving along Military Road it is hard to miss the new Mackie Lane Rotunda. This impressive hexagonal structure was inspired by Paddington Community Garden’s rotunda, and we are very grateful to Rob Joyner for sharing his design and expertise. Special thanks are due to Chris Lee who worked with Calam Findlay and the rest of the Mackie Lane construction team to build the Rotunda. It is a spectacular piece of workmanship and beautifully built. We look forward to the celebrations in the new year to mark its completion and to the many events, festivities and workshops it will provide shelter for. It is a landmark for the garden, giving it a real sense of place, as well as a symbol of how far we have come.

Middle Head
Our original community garden, set in beautiful bushland at Middle Head continues to be a hive of activity and bountiful harvest. MCG members generously volunteered their time to assist NPWS with events at the Soldiers’ Institute, preparing delicious food with produce from the garden. We’ve been involved with many events at Middle Head, from art exhibitions to the Skinny.

Mosman Community Gardeners continue to work with other groups to foster edible gardening such Beauty Point Public School and to give advice to other gardens such as Neutral Bay Community Garden. We encourage verge gardening and assist and advise residents to make use of suitable nature strip land to grow food.

Our partnerships have expanded and deepened
Mosman Council produced videos on sustainable living, one of which focuses on community gardening at Mackie Lane. Council once again supported us with a grant to expand the number of garden beds and implement our plans for a kids program. The Mosman Daily, which has covered the gardens’ progress since our inception, recently published the first of regular community garden updates. Bunnings Balgowlah donated a large garden shed, which was erected with the help of the Men’s Shed. Rotary very kindly gave us a grant that has gone towards the building of the Mackie Lane rotunda.

Thank you
We are very grateful for the support of our ongoing sponsors. We could not have built the garden without the financial support of Bendigo Bank, Rotary, Bunnings and Mosman Council. Many thanks also to Ausgrid, NPWS, Kimbriki, Poskitt Design, Proj-X, Honeysuckle Garden Centre, Mosman Climate Challenge Group and the Mosman Daily.

MCG members have shared their vast array of skills and we are very lucky to have such an enthusiastic team of volunteers. Thank you to the MCG office bearers: Lilian Andrew, Peter Hook, Diana Gibson, Gill Lee, Kerry Bullock and Greg Burns. Particular thanks are due to Greg for his dedication to Mackie Lane Garden and to Silvana Griffin who was the Mackie Lane Garden Coordinator until part way through the year.

We note with much sadness the passing of David Luke, a founding member of MCG and stalwart of the group. Many MCG gardeners joined David’s large family and wide circle of friends to wish him farewell. A sandpaper fig has been planted in David Luke’s memory and a lovely piece of sandstone found by one of the NPWS volunteers has been made into a plaque in David’s honour.

Outlook for 2013
Mosman Community Gardeners continues to go from strength to strength. Our gardens are welcoming places where people can learn how to cultivate edible plants, as well as to share food and connect with neighbours and friends. Our future is bright thanks to the camaraderie, dedication and enthusiasm of our members and supporters.

Tina Jackson

20 November 2013