21 June 2023

Growing strong for 10 years – community garden marks a milestone in Goulburn

| Claire Sams
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Community garden

Morning tea is “the glue that holds it all together”. Photo: Heda Pearsall/Facebook.

Starting from two unused tennis courts, the Goulburn Community Garden has grown into something that exceeds the bounds of a pair of courts over the past ten years.

Now, the group is inviting people to an event to celebrate their 10-year anniversary, on Friday (23 June).

President Raina Emerson, who joined the group shortly after its formation, said its beginnings came out of conversations.

“The Uniting Church had these tennis courts that they wanted to do something with and make sure they were put to good use,” she said.

“They also had a concern about the environment and food production.

“They felt there was a bit of a disconnect between people and food production, and so they offered the courts up to interested locals for a community garden.”

A group took them up on the offer, and the Goulburn Community Garden was born.

“I think it’s really an extraordinary achievement that we’ve reached 10 years,” Ms Emerson said.

“We want to celebrate that hard work, and all the lovely friendships that have been formed over that time.”

To mark the 10th anniversary since its founding in 2013, the group will be opening their garden to the public as normal on Friday morning – but this time, it will have a tree planting, morning tea and tours on offer.

“We’re also going to plant a commemorative bay tree,” she said.

“It’s come out of one of the gardens of the church’s congregants.

“That feels like we’re linking back to our beginnings,” Ms Emerson said.

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Alongside yummy morning teas for those who come along, the garden now has raised beds on the tennis courts (that can be accessed by the community for a fee), as well as a food forest.

“The food forest was planted years ago, so it’s nice and mature now,” she said.

“It’s got fruit trees and shrubs and ground covers, and in there we’ve got our compost bays so that we can reuse all our green waste.”

This all looks like it would be a lot of work, but Ms Emerson said everyone came together.

“It is a big undertaking, but we’ve got a really strong management committee,” she said.

“They’re busy, but enthusiastic and committed.”

The site as it was 10 years ago. Photo: Heda Pearsall/Facebook

The site as it was 10 years ago. Photo: Heda Pearsall/Facebook.

The Goulburn Community Garden relies on volunteers being willing to share their knowledge with others, she said, while new residents in Goulburn often came to seek advice and support on things beyond gardening.

“We’ve noticed over the years that this is a service we can provide,” Ms Emerson said.

“A lot of the people who do join are new people in Goulburn, and they are looking for that information on growing things, but also on living in our community.”

Ms Emerson said the Goulburn Community Garden was often the site of workshops and people often sought gardening information and advice in-person or through their Facebook group.

“Over the years, people have contributed a certain skill or done a certain job.

“But when they leave Goulburn or things change and they can no longer be involved, the knowledge they’ve shared stays,” she said.

There is also a TAFE class and a Goulburn Mulwaree Council program for older people that visits weekly, while the University of the Third Age runs workshops every Saturday morning.

Additionally, Right to Work, a disability organisation, is located nearby and the group often visits the garden.

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Ms Emerson says morning tea is “the glue that holds it all together”, and gives feelings of community and connection a chance to take root among volunteers.

“Having a cup of tea together and a chat can be so important.”

The group is always looking for new volunteers – but they only need bring curiosity.

“It’s an environment where you can just come along,” Ms Emerson said.

“We’re open on Friday and Saturday mornings, though members can come and go at any other time.

“For new people, it’s definitely a place of learning, and I think that’s the really great thing a community garden offers,” she said.

Goulburn Community Garden is located inside the grounds of the Uniting Church, at 43 Goldsmith Street, Goulburn.

The celebrations will take place on Friday (23 June), between 10 am and 1 pm.

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