Community gardens

Community gardensCommunity gardens are places where people come together to grow food, create habitat and connect with nature and their local community.

Community gardens can be located on different types of land including schools, churches, community centres and public parks. They could have fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, insect hotels, bee hives, chickens and frog ponds. Community gardens can serve as meeting places, meditation spaces, classrooms or wonderful and lively neighbourhood spaces

Inner West Council encourages residents to get involved with an existing community garden. Where there is a need, Council can also support residents to establish new community gardens.

As well as community gardens, there are also neighbourhood food gardens in the Inner West Council area. Neighbourhood food gardens are located in public parks. They differ from community gardens in that the food gardens only occupy a small area of the park – for example, along the back fence of a park – and don't interfere with any other existing park uses. Individual residents enter into a partnership agreement with Council, rather than becoming a member of a community garden group (incorporated or otherwise).

Community gardens can help you:

  • Learn about the many benefits of growing your own food
  • Connect to nature
  • Turn food and garden waste into wonderful compost to grow more food – the full circle!
  • Meet new friends
  • Get your hands dirty and stay active and healthy
  • Help you reduce waste – only pick what you need, and no packaging

Existing community gardens

Visit the existing community gardens page for a list of established gardens in the inner west.

Existing community gardens

Establishing a community garden

If you’re interested in establishing a community garden but you’re not sure where to start, we'd encourage you to spend some time in an established community garden to gain an understanding of what's most needed to establish a community garden and keep the garden going strong.

The Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network (ACFCGN) website is a great resource. Their old but timeless blog post In designing community gardens, social design comes first is a must-read for anyone interested in starting a new garden. Once you have established a strong, functional group, the ACFCGN’s factsheet Checklist for New Community Gardens can guide you through the next steps.

Permission is required from the land owner to establish a community garden. Inner West Council supports a "bottom-up" approach, where community members form a group and approach Council or other landholders for access to land and assistance.

Inner West Council – formerly Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville councils – is in the process of merging its individual community garden programs. For the time being, differing policies apply depending on the suburb in which you want to establish a garden.

Select a suburb from the list below for the relevant policy and contact details:

Inner West Council – Marrickville

For more information about community gardening, contact Council’s sustainability team on 02 9392 5000 or email kate.jackson@innerwest.nsw.gov.au.

Safety precautions

Inner West Council supports community gardens in all types of spaces, but this is balanced with a need for community safety.

All inner west gardeners should assume that soil is contaminated until it is tested and verified as safe. What is a park now may have been a petrol station, industrial site or a waste incinerator in the past.

Common contaminants in the inner west include heavy metals such as lead (usually from paints and leaded fuel use) and hydrocarbons (usually from petrols and imported soil that may contain burnt material – a very common practice in the past) among others.

As a precaution, assume all soil is contaminated before gardening and take appropriate measures to protect yourself, your family and other community gardeners.

  • Test soil you plan to grow in. Vegesafe provides free heavy metal testing and is a good first step.
  • Grow vegetables in raised garden beds with clean soil
  • Always use gloves
  • Wash your hands after immediately after handling soil
  • Mulch, plant or pave or turf exposed soil
  • Contact Council if you plan to garden somewhere in public in the inner west.

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