Community gardens are not-for profit enterprises where the primary function is the production of food for a community of people. The garden can take a variety of forms. In North East Melbourne:
- some are membership-based,
- some are allotments, and
- some are freely available to the public.
Of the 60 gardens discussed on this website: 26 are open to the public; 5 are membership-based, but membership is free; 14 are membership-based at a cost; 14 are basically allotments; and 1 is private. The ones in libraries are usually freely open to the public (e.g. Greensborough and Watsonia.)
This 2022 article on the Moreland Community Gardens website lists a number of advantages of communal growing areas over allotments, including:
- You don’t have the pressure of running a whole plot on your own.
- Gardening with others is a great way to meet your neighbours and expand your knowledge.
- The [number] of people who can join [in] is virtually unlimited, with no wait lists.
- You have the space to grow a huge variety of different crops without being limited to your plot space.
In reaction, Jane MacNeil, President of Canterbury Community Garden, lists the advantages of allotments as follows.
- We can grow whatever we like, for example a whole bed of garlic, a combination of companion plants or just a seasonal range. Some gardeners grow flowers in their plots rather than vegetables.
- Not being an expert, it is good to see the plots of more experienced gardeners and obtain advice and inspiration from their crops.
- There is a clear delineation of responsibility for the upkeep of plots, with the committee approaching anyone whose plot is neglected.
- We still see other gardeners, whether in passing over the weeks or at the regular working bees held to maintain common areas of the garden.
Community planter boxes are raised garden beds in public places filled with edible veggies and herbs, where the produce is available to any passers-by who want it. The boxes are set up by community organisations such as Local Food Connect in the hope that the community will embrace them – helping to maintain them as well as taking advantage of their produce.
Of the 5 groups of planter boxes discussed on this website, all 5 are open to the public.
In 2014, Sustainable Gardening Australia (SGA) published a series of booklets of relevance to anyone thinking about setting up a community garden.