23 July 2021

Greener streets means happier neighbourhoods

| Lottie Twyford
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Courtney Fink-Downes crouching in a verge garden

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s natural resources officer, Courtney Fink-Downes, says verge gardens have loads of benefits, including some fresh veggies for dinner. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Nature strips are often simply afterthoughts when it comes to town planning, but Eurobodalla Shire Council is kicking off a new initiative to change this.

Council has put out a call for keen street communities to take part in a verge garden trial which will see them transform their nature strip into a native-plant oasis or shady roadside haven.

Council’s natural resources officer, Courtney Fink-Downes, said the pilot program will help residents improve their streetscapes and create greener neighbourhoods.

She added the initiative is coming off the back of enquiries council receives from residents who are often unsure what, if anything, they can plant on their nature strips.

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“The verge garden pilot may lead to new shire-wide guidelines for nature strip planting – providing information on what residents want to do and what they can do while keeping streets safe and infrastructure accessible,” said Ms Fink-Downes.

“There is so much potential in verge gardens, with proven social and health outcomes for residents; natural cooling through shading and solar absorption; increased ecological diversity; and they take up carbon from the atmosphere.

“You can still have all the parking and other functionality – it just means better aesthetics and a bit of a home for wildlife, or some fresh veggies for dinner.”

Ms Fink-Downes said there will be no cost to trial participants thanks to a NSW Government Stronger Communities Fund grant, and council staff will help with design, provide plants and assist with planting.

“Chat with your neighbours about what could happen in your street – it could be fruit to grow and share, or native trees and shrubs to provide habitat for local animals, or even colourful native flowers – then express your interest,” she said.

“If selected, we’ll work with you to ensure the concept works and organise a working bee to make your vision a reality, with plants and advice on maintenance.”

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It’s hoped the program will see residents and council collaborate on a project that will create a greener community.

There are multiple social and health benefits to the project, including improved mental wellbeing, natural cooling through shading and sun protection, and habitat for local wildlife.

Because the gardens will remove carbon from the atmosphere they will also help to reduce emissions for the region.

Council encourages interested residents to speak to their neighbours to see if the entire street would like to get involved, and then submit an expression of interest form via the Eurobodalla Shire Council website.

Expressions of interest will be accepted until 5:00 pm on Sunday, 8 August.

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