Queensland | Urban
In 2011, Fraser Coast Regional Council proposed the development of a community garden in the Hervey Bay area, which was to be funded through the Healthy Communities Initiative. In 2012, the concept was advertised, and a public meeting was held to register interest in creating a garden alongside the existing Halcro Street Community Centre.
The response to this proposal was positive, and an organising committee was subsequently established. The committee comprised local interested individuals, representatives from community-based organisations and the Council. Prior to the opening of the community garden, consultations with the public, adjacent residents, the Fraser Coast Regional Council, media and local business occurred. These discussions informed an agreed strategy to implement the project.
The development stage of the project required council consultation to ensure that all aspects of the garden met legal and statutory requirements. Soil testing was additionally required on the site. An outdoor designer was employed to produce a proposal of the garden layout that Fraser Coast Regional Council later implemented. Links were also made with a local employment training program who agreed to carry out some of the construction such as the paving and building of garden beds.
By 2013, the organising committee was able to officially open the Halcro Street Community Garden to the public. An informal working group maintains the garden and works in conjunction with the Fraser Coast Regional Council to oversee its day-to-day operations. The volunteers offer their knowledge, expertise, skill and time to take care of the hands-on components whilst the council employees assist with the associated paperwork and finances.
The garden offers a two-pronged approach to community engagement via the provision of plots for hire by individuals and organisations to grow their own produce, as well as the delivery of demonstrative garden projects by volunteers.
By providing a number of at-risk groups with plots within walking distance of their homes, the garden facilitates chance encounters between residents and fosters a sense of community ownership.
The mixed-use, community facility additionally supports a healthy built food environment through opportunities to:
Furthermore, produce grown from the community garden is often donated to local charities that coordinate food programs to the local community, or shared with garden members and Community Centre patrons. This promotes a social connectiveness and sense of place for plot owners, and reduces the concern of social isolation within at-risk groups.
Evaluation processes include formal and informal processes carried out through discussion with involved stakeholders.