Ashwood Permaculture Food Garden Visit
by Darren (Plot 219)
In October, the Slater committee (Gael, Wen, Jeff & Darren) visited the Ashwood Permaculture Food Garden in Ashwood, located on previously unused land owned by Ashwood College.
Whilst attached to the school, they operate largely independently (including being self-funded – largely from mulch sales and course fees) and operate as a communal-style community garden, where volunteers can work on any aspect of the gardens, and in return plant and harvest any produce. They don’t have individual plots, so a lot of trust and community spirit is fostered to ensure everyone benefits equally.
The gardens comprise over 2,300 square meters of space, with about two thirds of this currently planted with a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, and other plants (such as green manures and flowers to attract beneficial insects).
An interesting aspect of the gardens is that the main planting areas are set out in a “mandala” design. This encompasses eight circular beds, which have crops rotated through them (excluding the water garden), and a large domed chook tractor (the same size as each bed) is used on fallow beds to clean and fertilise them ready for the next planting season.
In addition, they have a shadehouse for seed-raising (and housing some tropical plants including ginger and turmeric), a bee hive, shelter with a pizza oven (painted as a ladybug!), a water-garden and various worm farm and composting setups.
The volunteers run a weekly educational session for students during Wednesday lunchtimes, lighting the pizza oven to allow students to cook lunch, whilst learning about the gardens and getting some hands-on experience.
The Ashwood Food Garden is worth a visit for ideas and inspiration (and a chat with like-minded gardeners). They are open each Wednesday from 9am – midday and Saturdays from 10am – midday, and regularly run permaculture courses.