Annual General Meeting November 2012 

President’s Report:  Tina Jackson

2012 has been a year of huge growth and success for Mosman Community Gardeners (MCG). Our gardens more than doubled in size, our membership and partnerships grew and our sponsorship and financial support increased. We received a Keep Australia Beautiful Award and significantly raised the profile of community gardening in Mosman. We have shown what a dedicated community group with limited financial resources can achieve with vision and determination.

Highlights of 2012

Transformation of a wasteland into an oasis

Around this time last year Ausgrid gave us permission to build a garden on their land at Mackie Lane, with the support of Mosman Council. In just four months our enthusiastic team of volunteers turned a deserted weed infested industrial site into an oasis, growing mostly edible plants using the principles of sustainable gardening. We built raised beds on the concrete slabs left behind from the old workshops using recycled and donated materials.

No edible plants have direct contact with the original soil in case of soil contamination, and higher beds have been built for the elderly and people with mobility issues. Our gardens are chemical free and our imported garden bed soil is enriched with composted kitchen scraps and recycled green waste compost. Seed stock is collected for future planting and to be shared. A practical example of temporary urban farming, the Mackie Lane Community Garden is an exemplar for how other disused city sites can be put to productive use for the benefit of the community.

The Mayor of Mosman officially opened the garden in February 2012 and many local residents joined us for the celebration. Since then an unexpected outcome has been the constant stream of visitors and high level of community engagement. Children come for educational visits from local schools; residents from the adjacent retirement home take an active interest in the garden’s progress and are encouraged to help themselves to the mixed herb pots along the fence. People who have lived in the neighbourhood for over a decade report meeting their neighbours for the first time.

Recognition of our achievements

In recognition of our achievements, Mosman Community Gardeners was honoured to receive the inaugural 2012 Keep Australia Beautiful Award for Sustainable Gardens for Mackie Lane, against some formidable competition. A further endorsement of our enterprise was the recent agreement by Ausgrid and Mosman Council to double the size of the Mackie Lane garden by moving the fence adjoining the vacant land.

Middle Head expansion

Our partnership with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at Middle Head continues, and with their support, we have expanded the gardens and planted a bush tucker garden. MCG members generously volunteered their time to assist NPWS with events at the Soldiers’ Institute, preparing delicious food with produce from the garden.

Our partnerships grew and strengthened

Mosman Council again awarded us a community grant and Council staff have individually joined MCG. We received generous in-kind support from Bunnings and Honeysuckle Nursery and very welcome financial sponsorship from Bendigo Bank. Kimbriki kindly supplied recycled materials free of charge and we received ongoing financial assistance from Mosman Council to purchase soil, manure and mulch. We are grateful to Ausgrid and the National Parks and Wildlife Service for allowing us to garden on their land and for their ongoing support.

We assisted Mosman Home Gardeners with the Big Lunch for the third year in a row. Other community partners included the Mosman Climate Challenge Group who kindly gave us a donation, Cancer Council North Shore Relay for Life, the Men’s Shed and the Mosman Daily, which promoted the garden throughout the year and helped us raise awareness in the community.

Education and outreach

Our gardens point the way to living sustainably in an urban environment showing planting tips, waste minimisation, composting and water usage techniques that can be used by people in their own homes. This year we held demonstrations on topics such as worm farms and composting and will expand our offerings next year. MCG members helped set up a community garden at Neutral Bay Uniting Church, build vegetable gardens Beauty Point Public School, assisted NPWS with corporate volunteer days and forged links with the Carriageworks Kitchen Garden Project. We also continue to encourage gardening on nature strips. Not long ago there were very few verge gardens in the suburb, now there are many inspiring examples. We promote this and other progress on our website and via our regular email updates to a growing support base.

We also have a lot of fun. During the Mackie Lane construction phase, for example, there was much eating and drinking as well as hard work! 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.

Team effort 

MCG members have shared their vast array of skills, from gardening and gardening design to building and construction, communications, publicity and marketing, proposal writing, cooking, management and accounting. Many have visited other gardens and attended conferences and talks for inspiration, and helped spread the word to friends and potential supporters.

I thank our wonderful volunteers and MCG office bearers for generously giving their time and expertise throughout the year.

Outlook for 2013

Our future is bright; we have a great volunteer team, a large new space to garden and growing support for the cause from the community. With two successful gardens and an expanding outreach and education program, Mosman Community Gardeners is well on the way to fulfilling its vision of fostering community and home food gardening throughout the suburb. Growing vegetables, once seen as part of an alternative lifestyle, is becoming mainstream once again.

Tina Jackson

21 November 2012