How does a Community become activated? What are the characteristics that create a cohesive lurch forward, a movement that at it’s core holds the emotional, spiritual and physical wellness of all of its constituents across all of its socio-economic, cultural and capability spectrum, as its purpose? And, who drives the ideal of an engaged, learning community that creates and shares its abundance? These are some of the questions we asked the coordinators, participants, partners and observers of the Cowes Community Garden and Kitchen......
This project exemplifies the power of collective energy and shared vision. It responds to local sentiment and creates opportunities for collaboration and growth. An enriching outcome for the entire community. - Bass Coast Community Foundation
The ‘thing’ that is happening at the PICAL Community Garden and Kitchen is definitely a ‘movement’. The vibrancy and positivity that surrounds this project comes not from a traditional community model
of delivering something to a group of people in need, but rather, building it from the ‘ground up’.
Let’s begin our close encounter with this garden by first paying homage to the history of Community (or Urban) Gardens. The idea of open spaces in urban environments in which food or flowers are cultivated, is not a new one. Since the 1800’s there is record of allotment type gardens within Europe providing nutrient rich food through times of crisis and recession. It seems that growing food in Urban spaces has become a foundation of renewal and hope. During both World Wars ‘Victory Gardens’ in the United Kingdom and Australia were renowned as a reliable source of fresh food.
Modern Community Gardens are also a response to social conditions. It is estimated that more than 500 Community gardens have sprouted across Australia and increasingly they are considered to be fertiliser for a healthy community.
So, was it the spirit of renewal and hope that inspired the originators of the Cowes Community Garden? Garden founder and coordinator Adrian James has a long held ambition to foster the values within the community that lead to inclusivity, food security, wellness and resilience. “When we started this” Adrian says, “we had a small plot adjacent to a local business and about the time that arrangement was due to expire, the groundswell started to happen”. Packing up the shovels and gardening gloves wasn’t an option because the seeds of something big had already taken root.
The task at hand was to find a suitable location for a permanent project but within that task Adrian resolved to fully explore the potential of a concerted effort that maximised the benefits for the whole community, particularly those who were disadvantaged and disengaged.
In the creation of a ‘movement’ the leader is of course, important. They’re the one who steps up to to challenge, backs their belief and holds fast when the first hurdle arises. To become a ‘movement’ requires more than just ‘one’ and some folk believe the second person is the the catalyst for momentum. Why, you ask? According the Derek Sivers (TED 2010) “the first follower transforms a loan nut, into a leader, and demonstrates to others how to participate”.
Enter, Vanessa Astbury who technically wasn’t really a follower because she was nurturing an idea of her own which happened to connect seamlessly with the Community Garden model. With an emerging vision and a fire in their bellies, Adrian and Vanessa formulated a plan for the Cowes Community Garden and Kitchen and marched toward the Phillip Island Community and Learning Centre (PICAL) with an irresistible proposition.
Learn more about this great initiative and the Bass Coast Community Foundation input by downloading the free "case studies" publication below