1 May 2023

Sharing a nurturing nature, Tuross Community Garden volunteers mark fruitful decade

| Claire Sams
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group of people in community garden

Federal Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips and State Member for Bega Dr Michael Holland (both centre) with Tuross Community Garden volunteers in April 2023. Photo: Fiona Phillips MP/Facebook.

Visitors to a Tuross Head site could see finger limes, nuts, water chestnut, tomatoes, vegetables and much more, all growing under the care of volunteers.

Their hard work has paid off, with the Tuross Community Garden recently celebrating 10 years since the first turning of the soil.

Founding member and current garden convener Steve Smith said the site was launched with a leap of faith – and came after much hard work.

“We didn’t even have a piece of land picked out [when we launched the garden], we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into,” he said.

“Really, we just had a dream and we went with it!”

Past and present volunteers, along with Federal Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips and State Member for Bega Dr Michael Holland, gathered in late April to celebrate the milestone with live music and a barbecue.

The idea that would become the garden was planted 13 years ago when Mr Smith was asked to join some friends who were looking to start a community garden in Tuross Head.

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After some time planning among themselves and speaking with Eurobodalla Shire Council, they eventually settled on the Kyla Park Reserve location.

“In the early days, it was tough because there were no written regulations for a community garden in this shire,” Mr Smith said.

“We had to start from scratch.”

Across the 13 years since, nearly 200 people have joined as members to work at the 4000-square-metre site, which is leased from the council.

“It’s brought a lot of people together that would normally not have known each other,” Mr Smith said.

Some volunteers had an area of expertise, such as the veggie patch, but all gained knowledge and experience, he said.

“It’s very satisfying to watch people grow,” Mr Smith said.

“We get people down here who don’t know plants from non-plants, and it’s so satisfying to see people enjoying themselves and to see that people are still joining and joining in and enjoying themselves.”

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The volunteers meet twice a week, on Tuesday mornings and Saturday afternoons.

“We have anywhere up to a dozen people working for a couple of hours or an hour and a half,” Mr Smith said.

“We then usually do about at least an hour of sitting around drinking tea and coffee and eating cakes and biscuits – enjoying the social side of gardening.”

While the community garden has received several government grants, the volunteers cover their costs by holding garage sales of goods donated by the public.

They are also seeking a grant to expand their water storage facilities.

Mr Smith said he was confident the garden would continue on a long-term basis, but added the volunteers were also looking to have younger people involved to ensure the site stayed in safe hands, as many of the current volunteers were retirees.

“I’m confident just because of the energy of the team, which is the community garden, pretty much,” he said.

“We’ll continue to build it better in years to come.”

Tuross Community Garden is at Kyla Park Reserve, Hector McWilliam Drive, Tuross Head. Those interested in getting in touch should visit the Tuross Community Garden Facebook page.

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