Jetty community garden
IT’S flood prone, doesn’t get great morning sun and is the subject of a native title claim, but a site has finally been found for Coffs Harbour’s community garden.
But because the strip of land in Englands Park at the Jetty will need to be re-zoned and includes both Crown and council owned land it could be another five months before the first sod is turned.
They are not the only challenges associated with the site, but after 17 months of scouring the city those behind the community garden seem resigned to accepting it.
“It’s not ideal but we can work with this site,” the president of the Coffs Regional Community Garden Association Adam Curlis said.
“We are happy to move forward with it,” he said.
Mr Curlis said one sticking point was the fact that because of the native title claim his association would initially only be offered a 12-month lease by both the council and the State Government.
“Ideally we would want a five-year lease so we can justify the costs of installing infrastructure like fencing and sheds,” he said.
“Because the site covers both Crown and council owned land we will also need to get two separate licences to operate the gardens,” he said.
The association’s public officer, David Wilson, said he was particularly concerned about the low lying nature of the site chosen by council.
“It is right behind the tennis courts which have been known to flood and there is a major stormwater drain, so the area is always wet and can be a breeding ground for mozzies,” Mr Wilson said.
“We will have to bring in truck loads of soil to build garden beds and keep the gardens flood free,” Mr Wilson said.
“It’s not a great site but after searching for so long it’s the one that council wants us to have,” he said.
Mr Wilson said the $250,000 grant shared with the Bellingen Shire Council to establish the community garden was made in December 2008 and the association’s 60 members were now just keen to get digging.
“In Bellingen the site has been selected and is now out there for public consultation,” he said.
“Here in Coffs Harbour it’s taken us 17 months to find a site, and while it’s not ideal, at least we’ve got something that by the end of the year we might be able to work on.”
A first priority will be to develop a plan of management and undertake soil testing. "We have been told this was an area used to dump building waste so we need to ensure there are no heavy metals as this garden will be about producing food,” Mr Curlis said.
The City Council’s staff member responsible for the community garden was yesterday not available to comment.