Bringing in one of the scarecrows at the end of the working bee.

Bringing in one of the scarecrows at the end of the working bee.

The fish pond at the top of the land with part of the community garden in the background.

The fish pond at the top of the land with part of the community garden in the background.

For decades every time I drove past a leafy park on the Pacific Highway at Turramurra I wanted to stop & have a look.  The park is called Turramurra Lookout & dips down on a steep slope from the highway & it is filled with tall trees.  It is not really visible from the road, so I always wanted to know what was in there.

Last weekend I finally stopped.  It was the presence of a scarecrow that was the decision-maker & I am very glad I did.  We came across a group of people working hard on a hidden community garden.

Around three years ago Kurring-gai Council allocated part of this park to set up the ‘Turramurra Lookout Community Garden.’  Machines were brought in to level out sections for the gardens, which run in a zig-zag pattern down the slope.

The permaculture burm beside the highway

The permaculture burm beside the highway

There are around fifty members. Some have plots, while others do not, but still participate as volunteers working on other areas of the garden.  All produce is shared between members.

Ages range from young children to the elderly.  The aged care facility Grandhaven Turramurra is right next door to the park, so the community garden offers a great deal to those residents, even if they do not directly participate.  I did meet one gentleman who lives there & works every week in the garden.

There is a food forest & everyone is responsible to look after one species each.  There is also a demonstration area of about six raised garden beds that have rotating crops.  School children come on tours to learn about growing food.  At street level there is a permaculture burm filled with herbs of all different heights.  Scattered around the burm are little signs that invite the community to help themselves to these herbs as needed.

Another section. I could have posted 20 photos - there was so much to see & it was all beautiful.

Another section. I could have posted 20 photos – there was so much to see & it was all beautiful.

Continuing with this generosity, the community garden supplies all the rosemary needed to local organisations for Anzac Day.

The garden itself is totally organic.  Around the bulk of the plots is chicken wire & some are covered with bird netting.  This is done because they have a bird, bunny & bandicoot problem.  I was shown little holes in the soil that indicate bandicoots have visited.  I know it is a problem for them, but this city girl was thrilled that bandicoots are alive & well in Turramurra.  The park becomes bush at the very bottom offering excellent habitat & was filled with birds while we were there.

There is a very nice garden shed with all the tools hung up on the wall in neat rows.  The roof of the shed is covered with solar panels. The power is used to pump water from the rainwater tank & to boil the kettle for their tea breaks.

So neat!

So neat!

Next to the shed is a greenhouse where they grow plants from seed.  The group also does seed saving & occasionally has seedling sales.

Lower down towards the bottom of the park is their compost area, hidden behind a wall of healthy banana trees. They have a number of bins, plus wooden compost bays where everything green is recycled.  The soil in the garden plots looked rich & near black.  I wanted to drag my fingers though it like I know Costa Georgiadis would.

They also have a small pond with native fish.  I even found an insect home placed in a tree.

There were very few hard surfaces. Most paths were covered in woodchip & were easy to walk on. The whole site looked super well-organised & very neat.  There is obviously great pride in the work they are doing & what they achieved.

There are two hand-made scarecrows that are put out to indicate that the garden is open & as visitors we were greeted warmly by everyone we spoke to.   No-one asked who we were or what we were doing there.  I felt that if I offered, they would have welcomed us to join in for what remained of their working bee.

This group meets every Saturday from 9am to around lunchtime.  They work on the communal areas first until morning tea, after which they break off to work on their own plots.

The community garden is not fenced & unfortunately they were vandalised last March as part of a multiple incident strike throughout the area.  See – http://bit.ly/1jQUZ7B

This community garden was very beautiful & it felt good to be in.  I know that if I lived locally, I would be begging to become a member.  The benefits of being involved were so obvious.  Everyone was friendly.  A little girl was so obviously self assured & confident with what she was doing & people of all ages were creating something wonderful with each other.

It is well worth a visit & the park itself is also quite beautiful.  Well done to everyone concerned.

Looking uo the slope

Looking up the slope. An even bigger area is to the right of the photo.

A fortress protecting from birds, bunnies & bandicoots.

A fortress protecting from birds, bunnies & bandicoots.

and a part of Turramurra Lookout, also a beautiful space.

and a part of Turramurra Lookout, also a beautiful space.

 

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