In 2014, when we first chose and started leasing the community garden site from The Armidale School, it was being used as an illegal dumping ground for building refuse, tyres, and general household waste. Illegal dumping has been shown to erode land, degrade plant and animal habitats, and damage soils (NSW EPA). This significantly degraded site posed environmental, health and safety hazards, and was part of a wider problem of illegal dumping in the area which has lead to the outbreak of fires in close proximity to residential properties.
The Armidale School supported the committees desires to clean up the land and create a community garden. At this early stage in the community garden’s development, the committee formed partnerships with a range of organisations, including:
University of New England
TAFE New England
Jobs Australia, Armidale
Minimbah Primary School
Clontarf Academy, Armidale High School
The Armidale School
After cleaning up the site, testing the soils for toxicity, and receiving local Council approval for our Development Application, we set about creating a vibrant community garden.
Essential to this process were Peter Hall and Dylan Dempster – both volunteering enormous amounts of time and labour to create and cultivate the community garden in the early months.
In partnership with Jobs Australia, a works crew, who were enrolled in a TAFE Certificate in Agriculture, created the basic infrastructure of the garden.
Aboriginal highschool students from Armidale High’s Clontarf academy helped weave the woven willow fence, and were also involved in planting and weeding and general garden bed maintenance.