Lochiel Park Community Garden was established as part of the Lochiel Park Green Village – a medium density housing project of the South Australian Government, designed to showcase sustainable housing design and educate builders and the wider community about sustainable energy and water conservation concepts, and act as a research opportunity to better understand what works in practice.
The Land Management Corporation (now Renewal SA) Project Manager for Lochiel Park, Andrew Bishop called a meeting in 2009, of people who had purchased housing blocks in the development. At this stage the garden was but a coloured area on a site plan, but we eagerly discussed our ideas of what could be, while starting to get to know new neighbours and comparing notes on the progress or otherwise of our building projects. A workshop and more community meetings were held over the next months, and eventually a committee was formed, a Constitution drawn up, and we were incorporated in March 2010.
Our first plantings were of sunflowers which added a burst of colour to an otherwise bare site. We also had some veges planted in a small area which is now part of the herb garden. We drew up a basic plan for the area with the help of a potential resident who had landscape design skills, with room for 32 individual plots, fruit trees, herbs and some other communal areas for gathering and growing, sheds and a gravel area over an easement, for deliveries. LMC provided us with a fence around the area, and seed money to add basic infrastructure such as watering, ripping of the soil and the creation of mounds for the fruit trees with excess soil dug from nearby underground water tanks – our first recycling project. We also had some pavers laid to delineate the various areas.
Plots were staked out and the first plots built and planted in Spring 2010. We spread tonnes of sawdust to make paths, planted fruit trees and made raised beds out of materials ‘rescued’ from builders waste bins – more recycling! New residents donated tools they no longer needed in their smaller yards, tables and chairs, and we purchased a barbeque, which greatly added to the community development side of things, and regular monthly working bees were established.
We have raised money for projects by collecting seeds from local indigenous plants and raising seedlings for local planting. This has been led by Bruce Rossini and Robert Smith, supported by Di Sullivan and others, and seedlings have also been provided by this group for planting in Lochiel Park by the Friends of Lochiel Park group, and along the northern wetlands.
Campbelltown Council are very supportive of the Garden, providing our initial fruit trees, community grants to enable us to install Ecohex paving in main path areas to stabilize them for wheelchair use, and liaising on several other matters.
In the years since inception, we have hosted numerous visiting groups, been the subject of research by University staff and students, grown and shared lots of produce, conducted or participated in several workshops, learned from each other and our experiments and mistakes, created displays at Council functions, taken part in forums, given information and encouragement to other groups keen to start a Community Garden, cared for each other, worked hard and had lots of fun.