SLATER …… The early days

By Pat (Plot 225)

It was a Saturday in 5 March 1983 and we had just all just voted in the 1983 Federal Election. (Bob Hawke elected Prime Minister for the first time!) We met at Slater Reserve to discuss plans for setting up the community garden plots now that final approval had been given. As some already had plots at Jolimont and were transferring to Slater we used their valuable experience in deciding size, position of taps, fencing, shed etc.

Pats MerigoldA working bee was arranged to mark out the plots and dig trenches for the water pipes to be laid.
The plots were then allocated and the digging began. It was a big grassy paddock, the soil was hard and we had every weed imaginable. Some plot holders brought in a rotary hoe.  No mean feat as there was no vehicle access from Grosvenor Street. Most parked in Slater Avenue and soon made a muddy path dragging mulch, fertiliser, tools etc.  Nearby residents were not happy. Cars became bogged if they tried to drive closer.

The shed was built as a priority but there was no fence until after our first thefts and vandalism. We built a horizontal wire fence and gate but the gate was not locked and we could climb through the fence! After all the hoses disappeared one night we had to bring our own and lock them in the shed.
A plot had been allocated as a seed and herb bed with seeds purchased out of membership subscriptions.  This was great because we could stagger plantings.
Horses grazed along nearby Koonung Creek amused at all the activity.

By May I had my first crop of peas in!

Since 1983 there have been several periods of drought and water restrictions proved quite a challenge.  The gardens were designated an “even” number.  Plotholders whose home was also on the “even” side of their street were doubly challenged.  For months we arrived in the dark at 5am to water by torchlight. The steady stream of headlights approaching and the occupants emerging some with torches on their heads looked like fireflies.

I have made some long lasting friendships at Slater Community Gardens through a common bond of the love of gardening.