The Northcote Library Food Garden has been developed by the City of Darebin as part of its sustainable food program. A community consultation process began in late April 2011 and the first community planting day was held in July.
The garden features three large communal growing beds, which have been planted out with annual and perennial edible plants, as well as a variety of companion and beneficial plants. In addition, a Food Forest is taking great shape in an additional bed. The Food Forest follows the principles of other forests, with a canopy, mid-layer and ground covers, however, the Food Forest’s layers are made up of fruit trees, and edible shrubs, berries and herbs. Children love stepping along the forest pathway through the fruit trees, searching for berries to munch on!
The garden has been established as a communal plot in order to maximize growing space. It functions using a communal planting and harvest model. A monthly planting, harvest and working bee day takes place on the second Sunday of each month, with gardeners committing a further 1-2 hours a week of their available time. On the community days, the available harvest is shared with those present, and gardeners are welcome to harvest a reasonable share of anything that is ready to pick at any other time. The garden is chemical-free and operates using broad permaculture and organic principles.
A native plants and bush food area was begun at the Southern end of the garden in Winter 2012, and this will be expanded in time to come.
Gardening workshops are held from time to time as part of broad educational aims for the garden.
The Northcote Library Food Garden is open for members of the public to enjoy and it is hoped that it will become a place where the community can meet, children can explore and people can learn about growing their own food.