We cycled over to have a look at Camperdown Commons today, which has been operating for just one week. What a delightful surprise this place is. Everything screams – We Care!
A bit of history before I start waxing lyrical.
‘Camperdown Commons’ is the new name & venture of what was previously the Camperdown Bowling Club. It is located beside Camperdown Park at 31a Mallet Street Camperdown. The land is owned by Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club.
Under the watchful eye of ‘Chesty Bond,’ a historic figure in the Inner West, the former clubhouse has been revamped so much so that it is unrecognizable. Two bowling greens have been transformed into large vegetable gardens. These will be providing seasonal organic produce to the large restaurant named ‘Acre,’ which is licenced.
The restaurant itself was lovely to look at. It was spacious & airy with windows that open fully, which will be a boon in summer. They used a lot of wood in the construction & with the furniture, so it has a warm, soft feel. Because much of the produce comes from the onsite farm, they can boast zero food miles, which has got to be applauded.
There is indoor eating & also a large terrace filled with tables & covered by wooden pergolas providing shade. All around the building are raised garden beds planted with herbs & flowers. It is very nice. I spotted a bougainvillea, so one day there may be a riot of colour cascading over the pergolas.
The outside terrace looks over a newly planted lawn, which will be a great place for the kids to play. On the corner next to the terrace is a wonderful children’s playground – different to any that I have seen. The area has a sunken circle that looks like a wagon wheel on its side. There are gabion walls & smooth logs that allow kids to walk or climb over. There are a couple of structures that look like large framed pictures. These have moving parts attached allowing the kids to move wheels, turn on switches & other kinds of things.
There are many semi-hollowed out logs that have been polished smooth so as not to cause splinters. These allow kids to climb, hug & fill the hollows with mulch & rocks situated around the logs. Some of the logs have doors that open & have latches.
There is also a large tree sculpture. I think it looks great. While we were there, birds perched on this watching the goings on with interest.
There is no concrete. Mulch, pebbles & clay paths make up the area. By sinking the playground, they have made it an interesting space for children. The space encourages children to be active without relying on the more traditional playground infrastructure & therefore encouraging more imaginative play in my opinion.
Next to the playground is a Hen House & to my delight I saw that all the hens are rescue hens – that is, saved from battery farms. These hens won’t believe their luck. For a chicken, it will be like coming from hell to heaven. I was most impressed by this ethos. The Hen House is quite lovely too.
Camperdown Commons has lots for children to see, do & learn. They also plan for workshops & lifestyle classes. Plus, there are also spaces for hire making this a multi-purpose site for the community.
If you don’t want to have a restaurant meal, there is a sandwich hut near the entrance. This sells all kinds of food & drinks. The seating around this has a country feel & there is even a wheelbarrow filled with flowers & herbs.
Now to the farming side of the venture. One of the vegetable gardens is established while the other was being tilled & planted by volunteers. All around the garden farm are raised beds filled with herbs, flowers & vegetables.
In the common space at the back are two olive trees, another undercover area for workshops or entertainment, more raised garden beds & even a large insect hotel. These are quite easy to make & I may write a post about these later. To have a good garden, you need beneficial insects to do the hard work of pollinating for you. Insects will come if there is food, but if there is an onsite hotel with superior accommodation, they are likely to move in & that is what any good gardener wants.
Even the fencing around the property is interesting. It is a mix of traditional black steel vertical bars & hardwood planks cut at at different lengths. You can see into the property from the street, which is an added bonus. The view inside will passively educate the passing community as to what can be achieved in unused spaces & hopefully inspire them to join in or dig up a bit of lawn in their own garden.
In the back area, panels of perspex has been attached to the inside of the fence. This allows full visibility, but protects both the gardens & people from the wind. I thought this was a smart addition, as cold wind can ruin most people’s outdoors experience.
The street area along the verge was being planted by volunteers. They were planting more flowers & herbs around a mix of fruit trees & heavily mulching the beds. It already looks wonderful.
Even the bike parking poles, of which there are many, were attractive. They sit on compressed clay – again, no concrete – & the bicycles can be attached to wooden poles that have two wide holes in them to thread your bike chain through. The use of wood in Camperdown Commons is very soothing to my eye. I like that my eye wasn’t being drawn to concrete, but rather to plants & wood of various colours & hues.
The farm is being managed by Pocket City Farms who have a wonderful aim.
“Pocket City Farms is taking to Sydney’s neglected spaces, from spare plots to rooftops, in an effort to make good of that unused space – by growing fresh organic produce!”
To become a volunteer, you need to subscribe to their newsletter, which will tell you of upcoming dates & activities. As far as I am aware, it is free to participate. See – http://www.pocketcityfarms.com.au
Their first workshop at Camperdown Commons is happening next week & is titled, ‘Edible Gardening for Kids.’ “This workshop will provide a fun & interactive opportunity for kids to get involved with the farm & the demonstration garden, learning to plant seeds, to grow & harvest their own food & to compost their scraps.” Pretty exciting if you ask me.
- WHEN: Wednesday, July 6th 2016.
- TIME: 10am – 12 noon.
I am bound to have missed some aspects of this marvelous venture, so you will need to go & experience it for yourself. I think the whole space is wonderful. It is great to see spaces like this repurposed into something that incorporates nature & growing things. It’s good for all of the community to have an opportunity to get their hands dirty & learn how to grow food. Lastly, some of the produce will be for sale at a market stall. Camperdown got really lucky.