The Geelong West Community Garden has been operating since 1985 and caters for those with limited space to grow their own vegetables at home. It used to be a timber yard with timber and rubble on it.
It all began in 1984 when a Geelong West resident, John Quelch of Candover Street, was in England where community gardens or allotments were common and successful. He was particularly impressed with the allotment in Bristol and observed that many of the English house plots were small like Geelong West. Upon his return to Geelong West, John decided that the concept of a community garden would be a practical one for that suburb. He approached the then Geelong West City Council who embraced the idea, helped the process of community consultation and choosing a site, then assisted in installing infrastructure at the chosen site in Autumn Street so that it could begin operating at the end of 1985/early 1986. The first president was John Quelch and the secretary/treasurer was Ian Toogood. The garden group became an incorporated body on 6 January 1987.
Setting up the garden was hard work. At the 20th Anniversary celebrations held at the garden on 24 March 2007, Ian Toogood reminisced about those early days.
“A small group of members, minimal funds to buy tools and improve the facilities, and the poor quality of the soil – the land had been used to store road metal, and the ground was both rocky and hard; perhaps our group should have been called the Geelong West Mining Association, such was the volume of mineral material taken from the mine site! However, with persistence and much hard work, our block eventually took on the form of a true garden.”
Since those its beginnings, the community garden has gone from strength to strength. For many years some members had two or three plots each, but from about 2000 onwards there were moves for our facility to be upgraded using funding from a variety of grants and to be more accessible to the public by encouraging visits from schools and community groups. As a result we have wider membership with people having one plot each, and in fact there is a waiting list for those wishing to join as this form of community activity is now becoming increasingly popular.
We have been delighted to host a variety of visitors over the years. One notable visitor on 10 October 2003 was Jane Edmanson, presenter on the ABC TV’sGardening Australia and on gardening radio talkback in Melbourne. Jane was happy to chat to members and friends, give advice, answer questions and admire the different styles of gardening and layout of plots. She was impressed with the raised beds and the work that has been put into improving the amenities. She reported “I visited the Geelong West Community Garden where there was a fine batch of allotments filled with vegetables, scarecrows and lots of happy people. Community gardens like this bring people together to share the joy of gardening.” (3AW website 5/10/03)