Sustainable Community in Sydney – It’s Randwick!

I’ve noticed some interesting things in my years running along streets, and last week in suburban Sydney I saw something new…

As usual, that morning I passed flowers, twisted trees, boughs I’d love to photograph – and then there was kale! On my left were 30 metres of veggie gardens full of green leaves, pumpkin vines, sage, tomatoes, and little signs.

Why weren’t there crowds? Where were the reporters and aerial drones? Who could I could turn to and express excitement?

It’s dawning on me…

Well, it turns out Coogee Community Garden isn’t the only veggie hub here in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Grow It Local shows me there are more than 13 projects in my area. Some are community gardens, some specialise in citrus trees; some are in cafés, and others are backyard patches.

On another run that week I met a roadside patch of cherry tomatoes. It was equally as surprising to me as the Coogee revelation, and equally not the focus of national news.

A very cool council

You’re thinking, “Wait, the council allows people to just plant veggies? Anywhere?“.

I’ll admit, those tomatoes did bring to mind an old Melbournian neighbour of mine who got into trouble for planting strawberries on kerbsides. After that Wally turned to digging up body corporate gardens for his produce and native plants. Restrictions also apply in my old home suburb of Mudgeeraba, where the other side of the street is classified ‘suburban’ and not allowed vegetable gardens or chickens.

In contrast, Randwick City Council is a sustainability wizard. The council encourages a vast array of sustainable practices to suit everyone: community gardens, footpath gardens, organic and permaculture practices, aquaponics, vertical gardens, balcony gardens, backyard chickens and bees. I feel enriched just looking at this paragraph.

A row of compost bins at Coogee Community Garden, behind a fallow veggie patch.

And yes, you did read ‘bees’.

Simply put, this council allows people to grow their own food. And to help us live as sustainably as possible, it converted the Randwick Community Centre into a demo Hub for these urban farming practices and sustainable water, power, and waste-disposal. The Hub offers courses and workshops, and there’s a fully recycled classroom on display.

So where’s Wally?

Watch this space: I’m checking out Coogee Community Gardens. Maybe I’ll find him there.

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