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Community gardens

Community gardens

Information about joining an existing community garden and how to start your own community garden on Council owned and managed land.

Community gardens are a place where people can come together to grow and share food, to learn, relax, reflect and make friends.

Community gardens provide a range of social, physical and environmental benefits including:

  • bringing people of all ages, cultures and abilities together
  • helping people to access fresh, affordable and culturally appropriate food

To help community groups establish community gardens on Council owned and managed land, we have developed a Community Gardens Policy.

Join an existing community garden

How to establish a community garden on Council owned or managed land

Community groups must complete the following steps to establish a community-driven community garden on Council owned or managed land:

  1. Expression of interest
    Residents form a community garden group and actively recruit new members via local promotion (such as flyers in school newsletters), identify potential sites for a community garden and complete a Community Garden expression of interest form. Residents meet with Council’s Community Development Officer to discuss proposal.
  2. Site identification
    Key Council staff meet to discuss site selection, provide provisional approval for current location or suggest other potential sites, and discuss and permits required.
  3. Application
    Residents complete planning permit application process (if required). Residents consult with local community surrounding potential site and document feedback. Residents complete the Community Garden application form.
  4. Assessment
    Application is assessed by the Sustainability and Environment Engagement Network (SEEN). Please note, applications will not be assessed until planning permits have been approved.
  5. Outcome
    Successful applicants are notified and a lease agreement is drawn. Unsuccessful applicants are provided with written feedback and encouraged to re-apply.
  6. Monitoring and support
    Successful applicants sign lease agreement with Council. Successful applicants are invited to apply to participate in the Sustainability Outreach Whittlesea (SOW) program.

Eligible groups

Community groups looking to establish a community garden on Council owned and managed land, must:

  • be an incorporated group with current public liability insurance of up to $5 million or have a partnership with an auspice body that holds current public liability insurance of up to $5 million
  • be a not for profit group, located within the City of Whittlesea

If your group is interested in becoming incorporated, grants of up to $1000 are available through our Community Development Grants.

Conditions

The group is responsible for all associated costs arising from:

  • permit applications
  • connection and usage of water
  • infrastructure
  • establishments costs (e.g. soil testing)
  • insurances
  • annual lease fees

The lease agreement may be revoked or not renewed if:

  • the group does not comply with the conditions in the lease agreement
  • the garden is not maintained or the group ceases to function
  • appropriate insurances are not maintained
  • the auspice body no longer wishes to partner with the community group

Tips for a successful community garden

Location

Community gardens need to be accessible for all residents, including seniors and people with a disability.

Successful gardens are easily accessible to the community on foot, by bike or public transport and are located close to other facilities including:

  • toilets
  • shade
  • storage
  • seating

The Horticultural Therapy Association of Victoria's Resources page has further information about creating an accessible garden for people with a disability.

Resourcing

Community gardens can be costly to set up and all community groups should aim to be financially independent to help ensure the long term sustainability of the garden.

Funding can be sourced from grants, donations, fundraisers or partnerships with businesses and health care providers.

Operation and governance

While there is no right or wrong way to manage a community garden, community gardens are most successful when the rights and responsibilities of all members are clear and developed together.

Community groups should agree on a set of guidelines that outline the how the garden will function including:

  • purpose
  • plot and produce ownership
  • growing practices
  • how the group will make decisions

All group members should try to make the community garden an inclusive and welcoming place to visit.

Promoting your community garden

Promoting your garden is a great way to attract new members and let the community know what you are doing.

We will support successful applicants to construct and install a sign for the garden.

You can also add your community garden to our online Community Directory.