Been out West End way lately? You might have noticed there's a growing green revolution underway in the form of Jane Street Community Garden, a 500 square metre patch of tomato plants, pumpkin vines, pineapple sage, oregano, salad greens, sweet potato, holy basil, paw paw and another 200 or so varieties of edible plants.
Established a decade ago, Jane Street Community Garden is - as the name suggests - a productive space which is tended to by volunteers, and where members of the public are invited to share the produce. The garden has around 400 volunteers on its books and, on average, about a dozen folks attend weekly working bees. Casual workers can participate for free; meanwhile, members pay a $30 annual fee which allows them to take home a share of organic locally grown produce, receive discounts on workshops and garden supplies, and apply for their own plot after a waiting period.
Volunteers at Jane Street Community Garden undertake a range of tasks including mulching pathways and social areas, scrubbing and refilling the birdbath, weeding, pruning, training grapevines, turning compost, planting and harvesting seasonal crops, watering and fertilising the gardens with worm juice. On the face of it, it sounds like a lot of hard work. But there is always plenty of fun chat along the way.
Jane Street Community Garden is one of dozens of such spaces which have cropped up in Brisbane city - and one of literally thousands in the world. Community gardening strikes a chord with people who seek sharing and social justice as opposed to profit-driven mass food production methods and agribusiness monoculture.
Researchers report that there are physical and mental health benefits associated with community gardening, as well as opportunities to learn new skills. Jane Street Community Garden, for instance, offers a range of low-cost gardening and sustainability workshops - on making frog and fish ponds, biodynamic gardening, cooking with edible flowers, vertical gardening, worm farming, and seed saving.
Jane Street Community Garden volunteer and organiser Melissa says she enjoys the connections and friendships you make with other locals. 'It's also about becoming empowered with the knowledge to become more self-sufficient by learning to grow your own food and medicine,' she explains. '(It's) a place close to home to connect with nature, get some sunshine and clear your mind.'