It is Council policy to support the establishment of community gardens in the municipality and to encourage the development of community gardens on appropriate private and Council controlled land.
The objectives of this policy are to enable the development of community gardens and to provide Council with a consistent approach in responding to requests for funding and support to establish and resource community gardens.
Community gardens are multi-functional spaces that provide a range of physical, social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits.
Community gardens are increasingly being recognised as a tool to facilitate educational opportunities, as well as promoting community connectedness through the sharing of knowledge, skills and resources.
Community gardens can be divided into either shared or individual plots, however most gardens consist of a combination of both in order to cater for a range of community needs.
There are also variations on traditional models, such as school kitchen gardens, demonstration gardens, sensory gardens and memorial gardens.
For the purpose of this policy, community gardens are defined as places where people can come together to grow produce, to learn, share, relax, reflect and make friends; they may also allow space for art, celebration and solitude.
Support for community gardens is identified as a key priority in the Council Plan:
- Council Goal 1.1 - Council will work to build a stronger sense of community within neighbourhoods and across the municipality, and create new opportunities for social networks and civic engagement.
Action: Support the establishment and sustainability of community-driven community gardens and increase local social connection opportunities (through implementation of Community Garden Policy and Guidelines).
When used to grow produce, community gardens also have the opportunity to promote sustainable gardening practices, reduce food miles, support local economies, increase community resilience to climate change and meet a growing need to access fresh, affordable and culturally-appropriate food.
Council’s role in supporting community gardens
The City of Whittlesea recognises that community gardens provide a broad range of benefits to individuals, as well as the wider community.
The City of Whittlesea will provide the following support in relation to community gardens
- Assist community gardens through the provision of advice for interested community groups or individuals
- Provide information on Council’s annual Community Development Grants
- Promote existing community gardens through Council’s website, newsletters and events
- Construct and install signage for community gardens on Council owned and managed land
- Investigate new opportunities to designate land for use as community gardens by including or strengthening recommendations in relevant Council policies and guidelines
- Develop a set of guidelines that:
- a) identify key considerations for community gardens, to assist community groups to establish sustainable, accessible and inclusive community gardens; and
- b) link community groups with the Environmental Education officer and Sustainability Events officer, who can connect groups to workshops and training opportunities
- Provide a consistent approach to the assessment of community garden applications on Council controlled land by developing a set of procedures that:
- a) can be used to identify available land
- b) list key selection criteria applications need to respond to, and
- c) establish an internal assessment team to consider applications
The City of Whittlesea will work in partnership with community groups to support and enable the development of community operated, community gardens, on Council owned and managed land.
This policy and the associated guidelines will be reviewed in 2015 to evaluate the social and financial impacts of this policy, and its contribution towards achieving policy objectives.
Key principles that underpin this policy:
- Community is responsible for the operation of community gardens
- Community gardens improve the health and wellbeing of the community
- Community gardens provide a setting for inter-generational, cross-cultural exchange across all abilities
- Community gardens are multifunctional spaces that provide a range of physical, social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits
- Community gardens will abide within existing Council laws and policies, including; Disability Action Plan, Council’s Municipal Laws, Public Health and Wellbeing Act and all planning permit conditions