This project began as a dream of the manager at the Central Ringwood Community Centre when she spied an empty unused sunny patch of grass that begged to be filled with plants and people. This site used to be a skateboarding park that was filled in and left. A group of volunteers (led by brother-and-sister team Robin Hallett and Jess Ness) have been working to develop it into a community garden. They aim to develop and maintain the site as the primary sustainability centre in the Outer East of Melbourne.
There is an open public space with fruit trees, herbs and a bush tucker garden whose fruitful harvest is free for all to enjoy. The communal garden beds are keyhole shaped and of an ergonomic height designed for up to 10 people each. There are companion herbs beneath the fruit trees to serve as organic pesticides, soil remediators, and pollinator attractors. Everything will be labelled so that the public can learn from what is growing, and members of the garden can share their knowledge and passion for gardening, thereby building a sharing economy. Their plans also include: wicking beds; a seed library; a covered area for teaching, potting, cooking, events, etc; and a play area for the children.
The garden provides a safe and welcoming space for people from different cultural backgrounds living or working in Ringwood and surrounds to come together to plant and grow edible crops, participate in other gardening activities, socialise with others and enjoy a communal garden space. There are currently 34 garden plots, some of which are available for rent.
The garden is managed by a management committee comprising office bearers from multicultural backgrounds, as well as representatives from the Migrant Information Centre, Eastern Melbourne.
Membership is $5 for one person, or $10 for a family. Plot fees are currently $25 per plot. Families with over 3 members can apply for two plots, otherwise one plot. Plots eligibility is limited to Health Care Card holders, who are unable to garden at home, and who live within a radius of 5 kilometres of Ringwood.
People leave surplus fruit, veggies, herbs, seedlings and seeds. Other people may then take them, at no cost. There is no fee, membership, opening hours, or obligation. Donations of garden produce are very welcome, but also small envelopes or ziplock bags, seeds, labels, glass jars for fresh herbs, etc. Everyone is welcome to get involved.
Spice Fusion’s product range includes 30 plus unique and all-natural spice blends, 6 dukkah blends and a to-die-for chilli jam, all of which are handmade by Judy in her Ringwood home kitchen. Free recipes (and spice advice) are given away with every purchase.
The Mushroom Company grows shiitake, shimeji, brown oyster, enoki, king oyster and black fungi mushrooms and sell them at farmers' markets. In winter, they grow chestnut mushrooms and nameko as well, and they are the only company in Australia to grow nameko. The mushrooms are grown as spawns in test tubes, then transferred to jugs with cooked grains, then transferred to mushroom bags. No chemicals are used. They also sell growing kits if you like to experiment with growing your own. The only thing they spray on their mushrooms is clean water. If you visit them at a farmers' market, Wendy will introduce all of the mushrooms to you, as well as some recipes for you to enjoy them.