If you’ve ever walked or driven by a lush green garden sitting in the middle of a neighbourhood or park and looked in awe at the flowering zucchini plants and well-tended tomato vines, there’s a good chance it’s one of twelve community gardens nestled in amongst our bush capital.
The Gardens operate under the Canberra Organic Growers Society (COGS), a not-for-profit organisation run by a voluntary committee and are currently located at Charnwood, Crace, Cook, Cotter, Dickson, Erindale, Holder, Kaleen, Kambah, Mitchell, Oaks Estate and O’Connor.
Since its establishment in 2001, people have gathered at the Cook Community Gardens to not only cultivate and grow their own produce but to learn and connect with others in their neighbourhood.
Garden convener and member Peter Weddell said with around 50 plots at the garden, it is a “wonderful way to bring people together”.
“We have gardeners from all nationalities and backgrounds as part of our community. The current group are extremely keen and enthusiastic. They are all using organic principles, and the gardens look great!”
Community gardens offer people and the community many benefits. They provide opportunities for recreational gardening, support living sustainably in an urban environment by fostering composting and water usage techniques, and they contribute to social and community development.
We live in an era that for many of us, our neighbours are strangers. Community gardens bring people who live nearby together, provide the opportunity to meet, work beside, and even form friendships with people who might live down the street, but who you might never have met otherwise.
Local Cook Community gardener Ruth Adams says “it’s a beautiful community, people share their recipes and exchange advice. I love being part of it.”
Longtime gardener Mario Serenellini agrees and adds, “There is never any competition. Everyone just helps each other out. We have a working bee once a month where everyone comes together and works on the common areas. Occasionally we come together for social events and invite speakers to share their knowledge. There’s a great sense of community here.”
Community gardens might seem like a secret club that no one else can be part of, but joining a community is easy and a great way to meet people, grow your own fresh produce and learn about gardening.