The community sows together for Pinjarra’s garden

A bunch of busy tireless volunteers dressed in high-vis jumpers and heavy duty boots march around the garden carrying bulky wooden beams and digging garden beds with a shovel.

An old-fashioned tin kettle whistles in the background as a handful of other volunteers get the morning tea ready. 

That’s the usual Thursday morning rush at the Pinjarra Community Gardens, when volunteers from across the region and uniformed Green Army team members come down to get their hands dirty.

The idea of creating a community garden space in Murray was born four years ago as a life dream of garden guru John Bodycoat.

Members of the local community teamed up, and after four years of searching for suitable blocks around Pinjarra and countless hours of drafting and planning ,they locked down the lease for their current space on Williams Road.

The garden is aimed at anybody that wants to learn more about gardening and growing fresh produce, or simply to those who want to have a chat while sharing a cup of tea.

Curious gardeners would be able to rent a garden bed on a yearly basis to plant flowers, veggies and fruit trees of their choice, or they could imply contribute to the communal garden beds.

“People can have their own garden bed, but they’ll still be included in helping out in these communal areas too,” team member Michelle Mullarkey said.

“But other people don’t have to get a bed, they can just join in and probably take a bag of veggies on the way home.”

The garden would be accessible to people with disabilities and those with mobility issues, and would feature an aquaponics set-up as well as an outdoor kitchen area for communal events.

The team has also reserved a corner of the property to set up an education centre and outdoor classroom where local schools and learning centres would be able to bring their students for some fresh air.

The education corner would include a seating area and touch garden for toddlers and little children.

“This place is going to be for everyone and we want everyone to feel comfortable coming down,” Ms Mullarkey said.

“The kettle will always be on and there’ll be always a free cuppa here for anyone who needs it and wants to come down for a chat.

“It’s about including everyone.”

The garden has only been officially running since March but it has already attracted the attention of local organisations and businesses from the Murray region, who teamed up to provide funding towards the project.

Bendigo Bank, the Department of Local Government and Communities, the Peel Development Commission, Alcoa, Brookfield Rail, Pinjarra Junction, the Shire of Murray, and Pinjarra Lions Club have contributed with more than $79,000 in soil, fencing, a shed, reticulation, solar lights, tools and sewerage. 

As well as donations from members of the community.

“We have been really lucky to attract some funding and have a lot of support in the community,” Ms Mullarkey said.

Ms Mullarkey also said they have already received expressions of interest from potential gardeners who want to contribute towards the project.

The garden team will start to take up ‘busy bees’ to grab the shovel on weekends very soon, they are planning their first general meeting and they will run a vegetable swap from November. 

They also hope to organise farmers markets on site in the future to contribute towards running expenses. 

“This garden is going to be obviously always run with fundraising and donations,” Ms Mullarkey said.

“But we hope that we can have some farmers markets here in the future, that’s a little bit of revenue to pay for the water bills.

“We have to keep it sort of paying for itself.”

Ms Mullarkey said the project is about food security and teaching people how to grow their own food in order to have a healthy and organic diet, but she said so far it has been like gardening; needing lots of ‘perseverance, patience and dedicated volunteers’.

For more information about the project go to the Pinjarra Community Gardens Facebook page.