Watching it grow, plans for community garden

IF YOU think your backyard takes some mowing, try looking after an entire acre. With no ride-on mower.

That's just one of the tasks juggled by volunteers at the South Coffs Community Garden in Bruce King Dr. Boambee.

A series of small grants ensured the beginnings of a garden were "planted" but there is a long way to go before this garden is in full bloom. The vision is to turn this acre into practical, beautiful community space. Not just a veggie patch, but a gathering place where the community can enjoy the garden and come together for regular events.

The driving force behind this vision, husband and wife team John and Christine Higgins, have taken on the roles of garden treasurer and manager and are asking us all to dig deep and help create a real asset for the area.

"This area doesn't have anything like this, there is so much potential for the site," Christine said.

"The idea of this garden is not only to be practical, but also to look good and be a lovely social space.

"A garden that concentrates on edible produce and recycling can sometimes appear a bit like a dump site but we will be planting flowers and shrubs and building seating to encourage people to sit and enjoy. We're not creating a manicured botanic garden but hopefully a community backyard."

The main item on the wish list is a pavilion, but over time they are also hoping to get a barbecue and pizza oven, water tanks, fruit trees to create an orchard, shade trees and shrubs and a ride-on mower.

Christine and John Higgins, Boambee community garden June 1017
Christine and John Higgins, Boambee community garden June 1017 Rachel Vercoe

The community came together recently to support the Sawtell Cinema through crowd funding, so Christine is using the same idea in the hope locals will once again come to the party for a project that will benefit everyone.

"Our campaign is called Digging for Health and Happiness," she said.

"The goal is to raise $40,000 and we are kicking it off at Keen's Sawtell Chilli Festival.

"We've had some great support from local schools and Adam's Sawmill donated timber which we are going to use to build an entrance archway.

"This garden will be more than a garden, it will be a social space, a place to come together and connect, share ideas and learn skills from each other, host community events or to just find a quiet corner and read a book under a tree."

Volunteers have already built 19 garden beds, which have been filled and are ready to plant. The beds will be rented out at $50 a year each so locals can grow their own vegies.

"I'm really hoping once we get the pavilion up people will come and enjoy the space, come and share skills, and exchange knowledge about gardening and healthy living."

Garden volunteers meet 1pm, first Sunday of the month at the ground. Just show up and join in.

Details 0438 280 451, southcoffscg.com. To donate go www.chuffed.org/project/digging-for-health-and-happiness



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