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Call for upgrades to community garden

04 Dec 2019

Call for upgrades to community garden Image

By David Schout

The popular Docklands Community Garden says the time has come for proper infrastructure to support their 111-strong group of volunteers.

The group, which recently celebrated 10 years at their Geographe St location, requires a public toilet, shading and a water pump to back its efforts.

Head volunteer Greg Wise said a committed group of volunteers wasn’t getting the assistance it needed.

“There is a total lack of public toilet facilities around the Docklands area and most particularly this part of Docklands,” he said of its location, between Bourke and Collins streets.

“This is a major challenge for the garden as a community because at least 50 per cent of our volunteers are women and a lot of them are elderly ladies. When we have major events in the garden such as replanting, we’ll be doing that for four to six hours, and the need for a toilet is obviously quite extreme after that period of time. There’s really nowhere that’s anywhere near for them to go.”

Mr Wise said almost all of the local cafes around the area were closed on Sundays, and the public toilet on Harbour Esplanade was too far for many volunteers to walk.

He said they have even had to set up a bucket in an enclosed pavilion for some members to use

“It’s not fair for anybody. It’s not just for the garden – a public toilet would be a very useful asset for the entire community. Whenever we’re in the garden on weekends we get tourists who wander through here and tell us what a magnificent and wonderful place it is, but inevitably ask the question: ‘can you tell me where the nearest public toilet is?’”

Mr Wise said while the toilet was a primary concern, the group was also concerned with the lack of shade around the garden heading into summer.

“We’re always working in all seasons, particularly in summer during the day,” he said.

“We always finish off our working bees with a picnic lunch for all of the volunteers. And for the next hour or so while we’re having lunch everyone has to sit in the sun because there’s no alternative.”

Greens MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell visited the garden in November and congratulated the volunteers on their anniversary, pledging to push the City of Melbourne for improvements.

“It’s a remarkable achievement, 10 years of the Docklands Community Garden,” she said.

“Thanks to all the volunteers who’ve put in so much hard work – it’s a beautiful space and I’m looking forward to continuing to support it. The volunteers raised a number of issues with me from toilets to a drinking fountain to some shade, and a water pump for their watering system, and I’ll be raising those with council to make the space even better than it is now.”

Mr Wise said volunteers had recently replanted the spring and summer crop, and encouraged anyone to come down and pick what they needed.

“The garden is very much for the community and everybody is welcome to come down, have a look and pick what they want for their next meal.”

He said the number of volunteers was hugely pleasing and most importantly, fostered a feeling of community in the area.

“The more volunteers, the better. There’s plenty of work to be done and an enormous amount of enjoyment comes from working in the garden. We’ve found that it’s a great opportunity for residents of Docklands to meet other residents.”

“When you come into the garden and see someone else doing something it’s the easiest thing in the world to strike up a conversation because there’s already something in common.”


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