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Special Interest Matter - Punchbowl & Blackstone Heights Community Gardens

Tuesday 24 May 2022, Special Interest Matter

[11.13 a.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, today I speak about a couple of fantastic community gardens in my electorate. Community gardens are such wonderful assets for people to connect with others, to share a cup of tea or coffee, get their hands dirty and grow something beautiful and tasty. I discovered recently that there is a huge community garden at Punchbowl tucked away in the Punchbowl Reserve. Managed by president Barkley Walker, along with the Rotary Club of Youngtown, this garden has more than 150 plots, some single‑sized and others double‑sized, and it is almost fully subscribed. It brings together many parts of the community. There is a large contingent of migrant gardeners whose vegetables get turned into incredible dishes, and some of the largest and healthiest vegetables I've ever seen. Barkley was saying it is just wonderful when you try dishes that otherwise maybe you would not have, and the things that these different gardeners bring is quite incredible.

There are also beehives, fruit trees and a hot house on site, which are still being developed. It is very easy to see why this community garden is so popular. When I went to visit Barkley and his wife Norma, they showed me around the gardens and I met some of the people who were gardening on the morning. I learned a little bit about the history of the garden. I left with quite a few vegetables that people felt I needed to take with me, just to show me how well and easy they are to grow and the wonderful things that they had planted.

In 1997, the garden opened with 21 plots and was funded by a $6000 grant over two years, and included gardens and a shed with kitchen and toilets. Most of the materials were donated and the shed was built by 10 trainees from Multiskill-Phoenix Training. At the official opening of the garden in May 1997, premier Tony Rundle said the garden was an intelligent project and the result of a great community effort. Launceston mayor, John Lees said Launceston is special because it is able to help groups with good ideas and bring them to fruition.

Since 1997, this garden has grown both in size and membership and has become more and more beloved by people who do not have access to a garden of their own or enjoy the company and challenge of growing flowers or food. Horticulture can be therapeutic. It can offer a way to get into the fresh air and sunshine and touch the earth. It prolongs people's lives and makes them happier and healthier.

I was delighted to learn recently a new community garden was being developed in Blackstone Heights, which is also in my electorate. Located just behind the Christian centre, this community garden is a fledgling group, but no less important. It is open for a few hours every Wednesday and the current members are doing a truly wonderful job of developing the plots and welcoming newcomers and participants to the site. So far, some gorgeous vegetables like silverbeet and beetroot are coming through and people are always welcome to head along for a cuppa and a chat.

While these are two of the community gardens I have had the pleasure of visiting recently, there are many more in and around Launceston. These wonderful groups, some bigger, some larger, some smaller are all run by fantastic people and are inclusive to all those in the community. I am looking forward to finding out more about some of the other community gardens in my electorate, but I wanted to a shine a light on the beautiful work being done at Punchbowl and Blackstone Heights. For anyone who wants to join a community garden, I could not recommend them more highly. Reach out, have a chat and a cup of tea and grow something beautiful and tasty.


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