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History

The North Fitzroy Community Garden Group was founded in 1997 with a view to establishing community gardens in the area. After investigating various possible sites, the Thomas Kidney reserve was decided on in 2000.

Read details of this inital period of activity here.

November 1997 – North Fitzroy Community Gardens Group formed.
January-June 1998 – Characteristics of suitable sites developed, potential sites identified.
June 1998 – Gardens Group puts submission to City of Yarra Council.
October 1998 – City of Yarra council passes motion of in-principle support for a North Fitzroy Community Garden.
February 1999 – Community consultation reveals significant support for a community garden. However a majority of respondents recommend against the former Silos site as a location. Working group formed to investigate alternative sites.
March-July 1999 – Alternative potential garden sites identified.
July 1999 – Second submission lodged with City of Yarra.
August 1999 – City of Yarra council passes second motion of in-principle support for a North Fitzroy Community Garden with a recommendation for site near St Georges Road. North Fitzroy Community Gardens Group incorporates as a non-profit organisation.
October 1999 – St Georges Rd site found to be contaminated and hence unsuitable.
Mid 2000 – Thomas Kidney Reserve identified as preferred site.

 

Planning and consultation
Consultation between NFCGG, City of Yarra and Australian Landscape Management took place over the next 18 months and the  plans for the design of the garden were finalised in 2002. Prior to the establishment of the garden there was a period of community consultation. The NFCGG took over the project in early 2003.

Details about the planning and consultation stage

Mid 2000 – Thomas Kidney Reserve identified as preferred site.
Late 2000 – Plans developed for a community garden on Thomas Kidney Reserve.
June 2001 – Initial community consultation over plans for Thomas Kidney Reserve.
Late 2001 – Australian Landscape Management appointed as project consultants for proposed North Fitzroy community garden.
Late 2001-mid 2002 – Ongoing consultation between City of Yarra, North Fitzroy Community Gardens Group and Australian Landscape Management.
June 2002 – Proposed design for community garden released.
September 2002 – Community consultation regarding proposed community garden design.
Early 2003 – Group takes over design of layout of garden.

 

Developing the site
What followed was 12 months of very hard work – levelling the site, erecting fencing and a shed, bringing in new topsoil, laying out the beds and paths. The first plantings occurred in March 2004 and the first head of broccoli was harvested in July that year.

Details about developing the site

Early 2003 – Group takes over design of layout of garden.
September 2003 – Site levelled. First layer of topsoil added. Fence and shed erected. Water pipe laid.
October 2003 – Garage sale and raffle to raise funds.
December 2003 – Site handed over to garden group.
December 2003 – Working bees to build garden beds, mulch paths, move soil and compost. Green manure crop sown.
January 2004 – Working bees continue.
March 2004 – Plots allocated and laid out.
March 2004 – First plantings.
April 2004 – First plantings in communal areas.
July 2004 – First head of broccoli harvested.

 
The next 10 years
Once the garden was established and all plots allocated, the following years saw many further developments.These included the installation of a composting toilet, a rainwater harvesting scheme from the nearby substation and the building of the pergola next to the shed. Plot holders also had to cope with very severe water restrictions during the height of the drought, only being allowed to water twice a week, early in the morning. The garden celebrated 10 years of active gardening in 2014 and by now there were around 50 people on the waiting list for a plot. In 2014, the garden was featured on the ABC 7:30 program.

Further details about the peroid from 2004 – 2014

July 2004 – First head of broccoli harvested.
March 2005 – Committee assesses options for a composting toilet for garden.
April 2005 – Plans for pergolas submitted to Council.
October 2005 – First open day.
January 2006 – Planning permit for pergolas approved by Council.
July 2006 – Committee starts planning for project to harvest water from electrical sub-station.
August 2006 – First fruit trees (walnut and 3 plums) planted outside the garden fence.
September 2006 – Discussions with Council for composting toilet continue.
November 2006 – Council agrees to fund and install a composting toilet at the garden.
November 2006 – Building permit for pergolas approved by Council.
January 2007 – Stage 3 water restrictions imposed. Watering restricted to 6-8am and 8-10pn on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
February 2007 – Committee agrees to fund construction of pergolas and engages Brunswick Employment Agency to do the work.
May 2007 – Discussions with Victrack, Connex and Council continue to progress project to harvest water from sub-station roof.
June 2007 – Application for Australian Govt Community Water Grant for water harvesting project.
July 2007 – Construction of pergolas completed and Committee approves funding for the tank to harvest water from the shed roof.
November 2007 – Commonwealth Community Water Grant of $32,000 approved for water harvesting project.
February 2008 – Victrack licence signed to enable water harvesting project to proceed.
September 2008 – Water harvesting project completed and composting toilet installed by Council.
November 2008 – Committee approves funding to install tank to harvest water from toilet roof.
November 2008 – Committee starts planning of new project to harvest water from the roofs of Holden St public housing buildings.
March 2009 – Committee approves funding for timber edging to raise the height of all plots in the garden.
March 2009 – Committee considers options to solve the problem of poor water pressure at the garden in the summer months.
April 2009 – Street artist engaged to work with Fitzroy High School students on street art project on toilet walls.
June 2009 – Committee successful in obtaining a Council Community Grant for toilet art project.
October 2009 – Department of Housing gives in-principle approval for the proposed harvesting of water from Holden Street public housing buildings.
February 2010 – Committee approves funding of changes to the irrigation system to improve water pressure at the garden.
March 2014 – The Community celebrates Rushall Garden’s 10 year anniversary at the Open Day.

 

Into the future
2015 and 2016 were dominated with the requirement by the City of Yarra that all plots have a geofabric barrier underneath the topsoil. In April in each of these two years, half of the plots were treated. This involved the plots being empty of plants, the topsoil being removed, the geofabric laid and the soil being put back. Additional soil and compost was also brought in.

In late 2016 a working party was established to look at obtaining a new shed to be located behind the large rainwater tank, and extending the existing pergola to where the current shed is. This project will probably be completed in the first half of 2018.

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