Garden a slow grower

The first sod-turning got a huge turnout. Photo supplied

IT’S taken them more than 10 years, but a group of passionate Coogee residents is transforming a prickly, powder-dry paddock into a lush community garden that pays homage to the area’s pioneering market gardeners.

Coogee Community Garden WA turned the first sod at Rotary Park, Kings Street on August 7, with a great rollout of nearly 40 people ready to wield a shovel or watering can, while the Sain family provided some real grunt with one a working vintage tractor that played a big part in opening up the area.

One of the group’s founding members, John Ivey, said the journey had involved “much more negotiation and work” than they initially planned.

“It’s been a long road but we now have a licence agreement with the council and some significant funding,” Mr Ivey said.

CCGWA’s vision is to provide a safe, edible and organic garden where residents can meet each other and grow their own produce.

“To learn how to take control for a healthier life starting with what we eat,” its manifesto reads.

“We will support biodiversity by striving to plant non-hybrid heirloom vegetables and fruits, so we can collect, save and propagate new crops.”

CCGWA chair Karen Moulton said they planned to have individual signs along the fence to recognise the area’s market gardening families, including a few sentences on where they originated from, when they arrived in Australia and what they grew.

The Sain family has been farming the area since the early 60s, and while they’ve had to relocate for housing and then industrial development, they’re still working the soil at a small farm in Wattleup.

Daniela Sain says brothers Marko and Jure (George) first moved into Coogee (though it was still part of Spearwood at the time) in 1980, producing carrots, straight and flat onions, potatoes, parsley, mint, leeks, broad beans and garlic.

“The gardens of Coogee had no boundary fences, causing the occasional conflict with vegetables being planted across neighbouring driveways,” Ms Sain said.

She says George resolved the issue on his property by driving a rotary hoe up the driveway, taking out vegetables and all.

To get involved in the garden or for more information, search for coogeegardenWA on Facebook.

by STEVE GRANT

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