Jerry visits a community garden ringed by a racecourse track! At Deagon racecourse garden members grow food, divert food waste from landfill and build powerful community connections, showing the value of overlooking growing space
Green P Community Farm operates on 3,000 square metres of disused land in the middle of Deagon Racecourse, in Brisbane’s north. At its beginning, the members were looking for arable land to farm and applied to the appropriate bodies to use the centre of a racecourse. In a time when we are increasingly aware of the best use of space, the benefits of growing fresh food and managing our waste sustainably, this site ticks all the boxes, and it is the kind of land that is readily available in every city and town.
Keira Brett works for SANDBAG (Sandgate and Bracken Ridge Community Action Group Incorporated) an independent community organisation. Keira herself started working on the farm as a volunteer, and now says her main job as the community garden coordinator is to “assist the community so they can manage the garden themselves”. There is also a market garden area attached that is also managed by Kiera and the gardening community.
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With over 100 participants, the garden now provides access to arable land for a wide variety of community members, including new arrivals & refugees to Australia. “74% of garden users are new arrivals to Australia” says Keira. “The majority of the farm’s community members are from Karen, Bhutan, Burma, the South Pacific and Nepalese cultures” Keira explains. “A lot were raised in communities based on subsistence agriculture. They bring a lot of knowledge around growing food”
The diversity of edible and medicinal crops grown within the plots here is extraordinary, and representative of the cultures of the participants. One participant from the South Pacific grows peanuts, spring onions, Island cabbage, taro, potato and sweet potato - a true representation of what she was farming, growing and eating in the islands.
Being situated in the middle of a racetrack means that horse manure for the garden is never in short supply, however there is a lot more organic matter required for a garden as big and productive as this to function. Every week Keira (and an assistant) tour local cafes, grocers and restaurants. Here buckets of kitchen scraps, food waste and coffee grounds are collected and loaded up. “In one stop we can get up to 70kg of coffee grounds” Kiera explains. This organic matter, mixed with the horse manure and grass clippings from the racecourse, means that “in the end… we get a nutrient rich product that the gardeners can use. This scheme diverts 9.1 tonnes of waste from landfill each year and has one the group an environmental award. recently won a community award!