Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Hi all,

As some of you know I work at a school for disengaged teens in Logan. I am quite active in more than the school because the issue at hand is really poverty and that needs to be 'solved' in a community approach rather than a school based one.
In my travels I have bumped into a group that is young and wanting to promote community gardens. CG's in the broad perspective as in more than growing vegies, a meeting place, better health, breaking isolation, solving fights and much more. The Logan council does not have a policy, has no gardens and is most concerned about the potential vandalism that may occur. 
This group has been asked to come forward with a comparing of various gardens and policy models in the hope that there are a few that would suit Logan and convince councillors. Although an Internet search delivers much, if any of you have any pointed examples on these issues: please contact me.

This morning I visited one of the most deprived streets in Marsden. A fellow named Warren has started a community garden in his backyard. He has absolutely no money at all and is doing it as therapy to get over his grief (lost twin daughters). You should see it: it is very well thought through, all materials obviously scrounged from everywhere, beds are flourishing and he is literally concerned how to afford the next seed packet. 7 others in the street have joined in, some in their own yards, others with labour or rocks, and one other has chickens and is helping that way. 
If this isn't grass roots, what is? He actually doesn't know that much about policies etc but he grows good crops which he gives away. Charity doesn't work in this: empowering him with knowledge and seeds would. I gave him some lettuces that were not working where I had planted them, see if he can restore them. I'll share seeds with him etc, but I am actually not really a gardener: what else will he need that can be scrounged?
And by the way, the fighting in the street has greatly diminished and some kids have tasted their first strawberries: never had them before. If you have $ 100 pw to feed your kids, you don't buy strawberries ever. 10% of Australia lives under the poverty line: Woodridge, Kingston and Marsden have a lot of single parents who were better of but have had to make do. Whenever I am amongst middle class, I wonder about what we take for granted. We always have spare change. We always have a full enough fridge. If we don't do charity, It is much better for people's resilience if they solve thing under their own steam: but still how can we help?

This area is going to be very hard hit when the 'shit storm' hits. The group I am a part of is trying to create robustness. If you have any ideas on what that is, please tell me, I only know bits.
Thanks Gabrielle

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Hi Gabrielle, I commend your community spirit. Community gardens certainly are a great idea to help integrate a community and get people helping themselves and each other. I don't know much about policies and things either but perhaps have a look at Brisbane City Council's website - they have a few tips on what to think about when setting up a community garden.

From what I've seen it pays to have one (preferably more) people who are really dedicated to the garden and planning or it gets forgotten about or is not maintained to a standard that is inviting for others to see and want to participate in.

Jacqui is the main person who runs the West End community garden and we often have garden visits there or you can visit there any time to have a look at layout. They get a lot of their compost supplies from fruit shops nearby who donate their spoilt stock. Asking garden maintenance people around the place for lawn clippings would also be an idea for you compost. Jacqui's on the site would be the one to ask about vandalism issues - they've had their fair share. There are some other people on the site who run/help out with community gardens too but I can't think of their names off hand sorry. Hopefully they'll see your post though.

I'm just starting a small community garden at my church as there are quite a few people there who struggle with single parenting and low incomes too. Will let you know how it goes and if I run into any problems.

If you need any seeds don't be afraid to ask around on this site. I'm happy to post them out to people, or if you attend a garden visit you'll be able to pick up quite a few of people's spares as well.
Thanks Vanessa: as it happens we are going on a tour along gardens next Wednesday and Jane street was on our list for around 11.30-12.00 I might contact Jacqui later today.
Good to start something like this for single parent families. I found at the school that this year I did 2 focussed days of action and regular picking of 5 min. and that is it. I'll have to organise another day soon though to refertilise and move some bits around. It really is a possible thing to do.
Hope that you'll find this to. Cheers Gabrielle
Hi Gabrielle,

We live in Logan, very interested in what you're doing with this, would like to see if I can help in some way.

Can you email me on We'll continue a discussion there, if that is ok?
Firstly, I am the co-ordinator of a group called Brisbane Seed Savers. We are very informal and meet once a month at members houses to talk about our gardens and swap seeds etc. If you are looking for specific seeds that is the place to start, we don't sell only swap or give away excess that we have collected.

It is very easy to save your own seeds, and amazing how satisfying it can be to let one lettuce go to seed and have enough seeds to share with the whole street for the rest of the year! I am happy to do a demonstration/ talk about this topic to a group of people interested.

These sort of informative sessions can also be on other gardening topics such as compost, green manure, growing from seed, veggies for our climate, pest control etc etc. I feel sure that there are other members on here that would be willing to spend an hour of their time sharing their skills with others.

There is a forum for Buying, Selling & Freebies that you can post any specific requests in... it is amazing how one persons trash is anothers treasure.

Mark Thomson ( is the co-ordinator for a Community Garden called Burnie Brae that has been started using a different method than most others. The way he explained it to me is that usually a core group of people start a community garden from scratch, in his case they were funded from the beginning and everything has been set up and now they have to find the people to keep it running.

It is my understanding that it can be hard to find a core group of responsible people that are willing to further the cause and share the many and varied responsibilities that are part and parcel of a community garden. Vandalism and theft is a big problem and can be quite depressing for all involved but there doesn't seem to be much that can be done to deal with it although I believe that Jacqui is installing multi lingual signs and possibly a video camera in the near future so fingers crossed these measures are successful.

I would recommend that you try to set up as many compost heaps as you possibly can as this will be a key ingredient to the success of your project. As mentioned, contact professional gardeners/ lawn mowers/ tree loppers/ stump grinders etc and ask if they would like to dump their green waste for you to use as compost or mulch.

In the meantime I have excess seeds which I am happy to share, would you be interested in coming to the 'Event' at the Roma Street Parklands this Sunday which is our December Garden Visit for the Seed Saver Group?
Donna that is fantastic, all of it and I am really appreciative. I will attempt to make it on Sunday AND my seeds are locked in a cupboard at school. I may go and get them.
I need to check back with the rest of the group before I can show how helpful this is.
Talk more later, but thanks for taking the time.
No worries, also in case you aren't aware libraries usually have free access to the internet and I am pretty sure BLF isn't restricted there.

Hi Gabrielle,

I have started growing heirloom tomato plants to sell at local markets, but I have grown more than I have sold and I have some that are getting too big for their pots and need to be planted out.  I was searching the internet looking for community/school gardens around Brisbane/Logan that I could offer free tomato plants to and came across your post. I have Black Krim, Black Russian, Rouge De Marmande and an open-pollinated variety (some consider it an heirloom as it was bred in 1970s) that is very heat and humidity tolerant called Floradade. Do you know any people, like the gentleman you mentioned, of groups who that might like some (or lots) of tomatoes?


Kathy Grube



Kathy Grube

Kathy I would be delighted to buy some lack Krim, Black Russian and the other 2 off you for my own garden but I have changed jobs and no one is looking after the harden of the school. However, if you find Logan Food Gardeners on this site, you may find some very happy and willing takers, even buyers. Contact Lynn and you'll be ok. PM me if you would not mind me buying my favourites, but I am camping on a farm for the next 3 days- so after Thursday.

Hi Gabrielle,

You are very kind, but I could not charge you for the four varieties I listed as they getting a bit old, so I am very happy to give them away to you - as many as you like as I have 400 plus. I started with six varieties, but planted too many for my first lot.  I now have 100 different varieties (but smaller numbers per variety) at different stages and all growing faster than I can keep up with. I'll have a search for Logan Food Gardeners too.  I would just be happy for my big babies to go to good homes.



hello garielle, have you contacted your local council about your CMG idea and seen if they have some vacant council land that they could let you use.

Yes Scott I have and if you read elsewhere, you'll find that the Logan council has created a requirement document that is great for people that like to be on committees and not so great for the people that need it most. I know of 3 proposals that folded because of the complexity of what Council is asking. These are gardeners, not committee people: they just want to get on with it.

To the best of my knowledge in Logan, the ones that are on private land work much better. There is a whisper of some new ideas and there are organisations for specific groups in charge of that.

Logan Council appears really helpful but after 4 years I have to say  I am at a loss what would push something trough for them. There appear to be objections no matter what you do.

If you are new in this, be careful with what you assume! I truly am an optimist who believes in the power of a group of people, just not in Logan council.


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