As stated in the Curly Community Garden Plan of Management, the objectives of the garden are:
- to establish a space that is welcoming and aesthetically pleasing where the community can grow food, learn, socialise and connect with nature,
- to educate members and the public about organic gardening practices, environmental issues, and sustainability,
- to provide members with the opportunity to work together and share ideas about organic gardening at working bees,
- to encourage people to decrease waste by reducing, reusing and recycling,
- to provide a composting area where garden members can dispose of appropriate food waste,
- to create another option for garden members to source unpackaged, organic produce that has been grown sustainably and responsibly, and
- to make connections between individuals and groups of different ages, abilities, cultures, ethnicities, races, religions, sexualities and genders to create a wider sense of community.
Curly Community Garden is located on the northern half of the western bowling green of the North Curl Curl Community Centre (formerly the Dee Why RSL Bowling Club) at the corner of Abbott and Griffin Roads in North Curl Curl.
The cost of an annual garden membership is $35 for an individual and $50 for a household, at the discretion of the Management Committee. A small additional fee is charged for payments made by credit card to cover processing costs. If individual allotments are established, they will incur an additional fee.
Weekly Working Bees are held to maintain the garden. This includes activities such as compost & worm farm care, planting, mulching, pruning, pest control, weeding and, when possible, harvesting. Besides genreal garden maintenance, the working bees are a great opportunity to socialise with and learn from other garden members.
Produce from the communal gardens is shared with those who help to maintain them. Harvesting takes place during the weekly working bees.
For the time being all plots are shared (communal). This is to ensure the maximisation of crops and to promote interaction between garden members. Individual allotments may be established if the need arises.
Off-street parking is available at the community centre, with Council requesting that garden members not park on site until after 9:30am on Saturdays. However, besides organic growing, our group is very interested in promoting environmentally sustainable living. So we encourage garden members to walk or bike to the garden if possible.
Pest management is something that is addressed in the garden’s Plan of Management. Strategies we have come up with so far include:
- Rabbits should not be a problem for plants in raised beds.
- If necessary, a low-level fence will be built if Hugelkultur beds are built or in other areas where crops are planted directly in the ground.
Possums and other climbing animals:
- Netting or protective cages may be constructed around raised beds to keep out possums and vermin.
- Composts will be well maintained so as not to attract rats and mice.
Other pest management strategies could include:
- visual devices, such as faux predators or scarecrows,
- ultrasonic repellers or motion-activated lights or water sprayers, and
- plantings that deter pests or that can act as a buffer.
Of course, we are always looking for more solutions, and we hope to learn from the experience of our garden members.
To date there there has been no real problem with vandalism and theft and members of other successful community gardens have also indicated that vandalism and theft are generally not a very big problem for them. In addition, the garden has good visibility by the passing public, nearby homeowners and users of the facility, so we hope that this deters potential thieves and vandals. Tools and other valuables are kept in locked sheds when not in use. If any graffiti is discovered, it will be reported to Council and cleaned immediately to discourage further attempts and any malicious damage to the garden will be reported to Council or the police, as appropriate.
- Enclosed compost bins or other waste recycling systems such as worm farms are used.
- Compost is used as garden fertiliser to provide plants with the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy and to improve the moisture retention of garden soils.
- Compost is managed by one of the garden co-ordinators to ensure its effective management.
- All waste that cannot be composted is taken home to be disposed of responsibly (e.g. rubbish, diseased plants and weeds with seeds).
- Excess building materials are stored safely on site to be used at a later date or removed after the construction stage to be recycled or disposed of responsibly.
Organic gardening practices have been adopted for all communal. If the garden eventually includes individual garden plots, these will also be required to use organic practices.
This decision is based on the belief that organic gardening:
- reduces the risk of gardener health from exposure to pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers when handling plants and eating produce,
- reduces the risk of contaminating garden soils with synthetic chemicals, and
- reduces the risk of contaminating the nearby lagoon and ocean with contaminated runoff.
Organic gardening practices may include:
Integrated pest management (IPM):
- Using observation, knowledge and thinking to manage garden pests without damaging beneficial insects, birds and lizards.
- Focusing on pest management, not complete eradication.
- Can be applied to plant diseases and weeds, but most commonly used to deal with insect pests.
- IPM is applied using many of the strategies listed below.
Building fertile soil:
- Healthy soil provides nutrients for healthy plant growth.
- Using compost and organic fertilisers to provide nutrients.
- Mulching to help retain soil moisture, reduce weed growth, provide habitat for predators, reduce soil temperature extremes, reduce impact of rainfall and soil erosion, encourage microorganisms and break down into plant nutrients.
- Buying or bringing in soil that is high quality and free of chemicals and disease.
- Building no-dig raised hugel beds that hold moisture, build fertility and maximise surface volume.
- Mounding branches, leaves, grass clippings, straw, cardboard, manure, compost and other available biomass, topping with soil and planting veggies, fruit or herbs.
Quality plants and seeds:
- Attempting to use seeds adapted to regional climate and soils that are more likely to cope with local pests and diseases to reduce plant stress.
- When possible, buying host-resistant plants bred to resist insects and disease pathogens. e.g. fruit trees grafted with disease resistant rootstock.
- Collecting non-hybrid seeds for replanting next season.
- Moving different types of vegetable crops through a garden over time to disrupt infestation and reduce soil-borne diseases of plants.
- Clustering plants with known beneficial effects on other plants.
Diversity of habitat:
- Providing habitats such as flowering plants, shrubs, rocks and logs to attract predators of insect pests.
- Planting a variety of plants to create habitat for small birds and insects.
- Promoting the diversity of beneficial insects to the garden to help prevent unwanted insects.
- Conserving water by hand hosing and using watering cans.
- Using wicking garden beds.
- Installing a water-efficient irrigation system in the proposed Food Forest.
- Removing weeds by hand.
- Mulching to prevent regrowth of weeds.
- Composting weeds and disposing of seeds to local tip.
- Removing dead and diseased leaves, branches and fruit that could harbour pests and plant diseases.
Mechanical and Physical Management of Pests:
- Using mesh cloth or netting if necessary.
- Using barriers such as sawdust, egg shells and sand for soft-bodied pests such as snails
- Using bands to deter insects such as codling moths.
- Placing bags around trunks to deter crawling insects.
- Using traps, such as honey and vegemite traps for fruit flies, to monitor incidence of garden pests.
- Placing baits, such as containers containing attractants, to draw pests away from garden.
- Hand picking of some larger insects.
- Using insecticides such as eco-oil or others made from plant materials such as pyrethrum, garlic and chilli will be a last resort as they are generally indiscriminate in the insects they deter.
Composts are well maintained so as not to create unpleasant odours, with strict guidelines as to what can be composted (e.g. no meat).
The garden attempts to use low odour ‘smelly organics’ and ensure that they are well watered in after application to help reduce any potential smell.
Funding methods include:
- Membership fees
- Grants – such as those available from Council, Bendigo Bank and the State Government
- Fundraising – including raffles and events
- Donations – from individuals and businesses
Curly Community Garden Inc is a not-for-profit association. All money collected from memberships, donations, grants, sponsors, fundraising, etc., goes towards the establishment, maintenance and running costs of the garden.