Update 6th June 2021:

Clarification for Community Gardens

🌱No bulldozers. 🌱No commercial development. 

The Community Gardens will remain Community Gardens.

The section of land at Collingwood Children’s Farm known as the ‘Community Gardens’ are temporarily closed. We understand our community of gardeners are saddened by the temporary closure; however this area has been deemed an extreme safety risk for children, gardeners, the community, and farm staff by an external safety consultant.

Community is at the heart of all decisions made at CCF. We are saddened by the sorrow this has caused however we also want to ensure that everyone is aware of the facts. There are several misconceptions about this temporary closure, these are clarified below.

  • The site is not being bulldozed. Every effort will be taken to maintain the soil integrity during any remediation works. Machinery will be used to remove some materials more efficiently and safely.
  • The site will remain a Community Garden. The land is not being sold. No commercial development is taking place.
  • This is not about snakes. Yes, snakes are identified as a concern in the report due to the current condition of the gardens, but this is not the main reason for the temporary closure. The combination of multiple hazards within the gardens creates an even greater risk of serious injury. 
  • The current condition and layout of the gardens are not only unsafe; but do not allow safe access for children, the elderly and those who are mobility diverse. The gardens have become an exclusive space separated from the wider community because of this.
  • Gardening will not stop. The current gardeners will be invited to return to the space and will be included in the refreshed Community Gardens. In the interim, subject to covid restrictions, we will seek to enable current gardeners to continue to garden at the farm. A list of opportunities to remain engaged with the farm and gardens are provided on our website and will be updated as more opportunities arise.
  • For those who relied on their garden for produce, CCF is happy to support those in need. 
  • All plot holders will have their fees fully reimbursed.  

The Farm has been working with the Community Gardeners to try and improve safety in the gardens since 2018. Throughout this time, the gardeners were alerted to safety concerns via multiple channels and their support was sought to improve the condition of the gardens. Sadly, the enormity of the project to make the site safe, and to improve accessibility has been too great.

We understand that our response to these safety hazards might seem unreasonable to those currently using the gardens and to able-bodied individuals, however, these hazards are preventing a significant proportion of our community from being able to access this space safely and allowing them to also enjoy the magic and extensive benefits of gardening.

Our aims and responsibilities

Collingwood Children’s Farm provides community engagement, education and nature connection with green space and animals. CCF works to support social inclusion with a range of programs on a working community farm and is a haven for children and adults alike.

CCF aims to develop self-esteem, self-worth, and connectedness, particularly of children and those experiencing adversity.

CCF aims to facilitate participation of children and their families in broader community life and a connection to nature.

CCF aims to provide educational opportunities around urban agriculture for students and community as well as pathways to further employment.

In addition to being a safe and accessible space, our refreshed community gardens will deliver these aims for the benefit and inclusion of all. 

We have a duty of care for the safety of all at the Farm, and we cannot ignore the safety advice received.

We cannot compromise on safety; this is not an optional feature of the gardens. However, we can consult on the design and structure of the new gardens and will do so extensively.

If you have any questions, we encourage you to email us at [email protected]

Kind regards,

Conor 

Temporary closure of
our Community Gardens

On Thursday, 27 May we received a safety report from an external safety consultant about our Community Gardens. To say that the findings were not good, would be an understatement. The report identified major safety issues and concluded that the site is unsafe for gardeners, the community, and Farm staff. Several factors were rated as an extremely high risk, requiring immediate action.

The works required to fix the issues are significant and go to the very heart of the layout, structure, and design of the gardens.

Following receipt of the report, the Committee of Management reluctantly decided to temporarily close the Community Garden in order to implement the report’s recommendations.  

Our Community Garden brings immense joy to our Community Garden members. We will be doing everything we can to ease the impact of this closure and keep our gardeners connected and active during this time.

We will be providing alternative opportunities at the Farm for our Community Garden members to garden and maintain their social and physical well-being during the closure. 

And, for those who rely on their plot for produce, we will provide opportunities to supplement their fresh produce during this time.

While this will be an emotional and difficult transition for our Community Garden members, we hope that this will allow the Community Gardens to sprout again, not just safer, but more accessible and more inclusive than before.

Below are some questions you may have, along with their answers.

Questions and answers

We, the Committee, have a duty of care for the safety of all at the Farm. As such, we have reluctantly made the decision to close the Community Garden in line with the report’s recommendations. This is not only to protect the visitors to the Community Gardens Site but to protect the entire Collingwood Children’s Farm.

We know this will come as a shock; however, we must do what is right and safe for our gardeners and community.

All plot fees will be reimbursed in full.

We are exploring alternative opportunities at the Farm for our Community Garden members to garden and to maintain their social and physical well-being during the closure. The opportunities being explored include:

  • Volunteering with our horticulture team in the various gardens throughout the Farm;
  • Volunteering within our market garden to grow food for sale and for those experiencing adversity – including the opportunity to take home some fresh produce;
  • A regular social gathering of Community Garden members, with free entry to the Farm during the closure – so as to continue to connect with each other and the land over a cuppa and a walk through the Farm; and
  • Joining in the community building activities that take place in our multipurpose building.

Please email [email protected] if you would like to participate in the above opportunities. 

Yes. We will be supporting our members to rehome some of their plants during the temporary closure. While the length of our current lockdown remains uncertain, we cannot advise the date or times the gardens will be open for this. We will be in touch as soon as these details are known. 

To ensure the safe collection of plants, Farm staff will:

  • Before the collection, clear and/or block access to the most dangerous areas of the garden along with other temporary safety measures; 
  • On the day, closely supervise and assist gardeners to safely remove and transport plants and gardening materials; and
  • Regulate numbers to a minimum.

Potting mix and pots will be available, and we will arrange a trailer to drop plants off for those of you who cannot transport them yourselves.

Initial works to clear the hazards from the site and make it safe will be completed as soon as is practicable. 

Redeveloping the Community Gardens is a significant project requiring detailed planning, budget, and consultation with the community. A timeline for the completion of the new Community Gardens is unknown at this stage.

We will keep you updated on our progress with this project and will contact you with opportunities to provide input into the planning and design of the new Community Gardens. 

There will be opportunities to continue gardening at the Farm, including being able to take home fresh produce as part of this. Please email [email protected] to arrange this.

If you are experiencing hardship and are reliant upon the produce in your plot to supplement your fresh produce supplies, please contact us via [email protected]. We will be able to support you directly from our market garden produce and indirectly via our partner organisations.

The works will be co-managed by the Farm’s horticultural team to ensure that minimal disruption to the soil occurs. We are passionate about regenerative farming and will do everything we can to maintain the quality of the soil in the community gardens – however, safety is our main priority at this time.