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Ashmore Community Garden
Ashmore Community Garden
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Ashmore , Gold Coast, Qld, AU
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Ashmore Community Garden

Ashmore Community Garden

Gold Coast, AU



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Adrian King Chris  Partridge George Debs Lee Flower Michelle Maree Gunders Nick Huggins Salla Kuuluvainen Tim Auld Vanessa Monge Augusto Fernandes

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The Gold Coast Model of Community Gardens.How we do it !

Project: Ashmore Community Garden

Posted by Vanessa Monge Augusto Fernandes over 13 years ago

I thought I would include a run down of how we are getting community gardens off the ground on the Gold Coast.Here is a step by step process.It's a long post that I hope is clear and informative.We believe that community gardens are a backbone for transit

The Gold Coast is attempting to achieve sustainable out comes across the city under it's "Bold Futures" program.Members of Gold Coast permaculture and the community are working collaboratively to achieve this common goal.


We begin on the Gold Coast by gaining interest.This interest is generated via newspaper advertisements,usually free community papers,a news story(jounalists are always looking for a good community story)developing relationships with media is easy because it's win win.

They don't like to have to chase stories.Other outlets that we use to develop interest are local radio stations commercial and community the local council has an excellent marketing arm,Also we use some guerilla tactics ,supermarket bill boards letterbox drops,word of mouth,social networking internet sites.

A focused campaing in a single suburb of 13000 people will usually generate a turnout of 50-100 people this is a great start,a nucleus can be formed from this group.


The second step for us is then getting the "how to" information to those people that have attended,at the moment the Gold Coast City council community gardens officer is Scott Godfredson www.exosdesign.com  a PDC holder.

Scott ,in his capacity as gardens officer  holds a meeting and with support of other knowledgeable members of the Gold Coast permaculture,supplies the process documents and the "how to" set up these gardens at the public meeting.Process documents can be found here.http://www.gcparks.com.au/activities.aspx?page=37


A steering committee is formed from this group of attendees at the meeting and the names of potential members are gathered.

The job of the steering committee is to create the basic social and legal structures required by the garden,it is in place to interperate and implement the wishes of the general membership.

One of the key mistakes we have observed is a steering committee wishing to impose it's vision on a group of gardeners,rather than the facilitation of the vision of the group.

The former approach will lead to dysfunction and ultimately a non productive outcome and probable failure.

Examples of these types of gardens can be found throughout Australia,they are the ones that are covered in weeds a year or two after they opened.

The inclusive facillitation of the  general memberships vision will create a vibrant self perpetuating garden,collective intelligence and the use of the gardeners various skill sets allows for a fast tracking of the establishment of the garden.

The steering committee is encouraged to conduct a skills audit and skills register from it's membership so it can immediately see what human and physical resources it has at it's disposal and where it might fall short.

You will find amongst 40 people that you have every available skill under the sun and this helps people who are not gardeners feel that they can contribute thier own skills and this helps bond the group.

When people are able to use their unique talents for service to others they start to feel truly worth while.

The idea is to let everybody be a champion,spread the work load,let individuals shine ,encourage personal endevour.Faciltate vision,the worst thing that Permacultraulists can do is impose a vision,it is an ugly behaviour that does more harm than good.


I keep saying 40 people.Forty people is enough to allow for natural attrition and it is also a great number because 40 people usually have at least 1 or 2 friends and families or business conexions that they can bring into the garden,without people you have no project.

Building binding Social and Financial bridges to your garden will constantly re invigorate it.

Spread the work around ,create small autonomous groups that report back to the central steering committee.

Examples are communications and marketing group,Design group,Finance group,Social group,Art group.

Having a group of people stops people from getting overloaded doing the whole job themselves,it's a great way to share skills and means people can go on holidays,get sick,have babies,be busy at work without a vital part of the gardens framework becoming weakened.

Groups usually stop singualar personalities from becoming to dominant.

These gardens are as much about rebuilding communities,education and social interaction as about growing food some would say the food is just the "lemon next to the pie".

Sponsors and Supporters

Sponsors and supporters shows the community that you are serious these Social and Finacial bridges can come in the form of many things,local banks,schools,sporting clubs,schools,nursing homes,family and multicultural groups they also increase exposure and will constantly bring new interest to the gardens this helps with fundraising and grant writing as funding bodies like to see that a garden has wider community support as well.Our gardens are funded by our divisional councilors so they also like to be connected and associated with a functioning garden.


Meetings,need to have an agenda ,need to be held on a regular day so that people can attend,they need to be inclusive and transparent.

Every member of the garden should be able to have access to the floor and the group.

An agenda lets this happen.Make sure it goes out well in advance.We have general rules at meetings ,no aggression,mutual respect,wait until it's your turn to speak unless a group dialouge is in progress(brainstorming).

You need to have a chair for the meeting someone who will control it fairly and equitably.

This is a whole section in itself and extremely important group cohesiveness is vital rifts,cliques and petty disputes will crush a gardens energy.

At our garden we have learned a great deal from reading some of the material Faith Thomas has produced as well as Russ Grayson,people in the Australian PC community will undoubtably know their work.Another valuable site for all thing community for Australians is 



A wishlist is a great way to get peoples ideas out,all the group you will find will have some commonalities and trends start to appear,in our group it's water saving and organic gardening as well as lots of social activities are definate trends,other people might come up with all sorts of ideas mudbrick ovens, straw bale,some things are must haves.

Wishlists let you brainstorm and get the community connected together in a non confronting way, they also allow individual choice and a chance for some really creative ideas remember 100 minds are better than 1!!!!

Check out some of our wish list examples here.




We are extremly fortunate on the Gold Coast our council is actively making public space available.They help the process along the whole way,they in conjunction with Garden Groups design the garden using the  Landscape archtiect supplied and paid for by Council.

Sustainability and best practice water harvesting and permaculture principals are promoted by members of Gold Coast permaculture who also work with each group and the architecht,as it is established .We are totally organic.

We have a committed group of people on the Gold coast who have worked long and hard to support this process,it was once said by a pretty well known Permacultralist that the "Gold Coast has nothing happening on it",we hope to show any of our doubters that we are a vibrant and focused group.

What we do here has been done quietly and very carefully.

We would at this stage rather see our community strong and connected and getting ready for a bold future.

Than spend time blowing our own horns.(though we are here,forgive us)

Please contact us if we can share our knowledge with your community in any way,Gold Coast permaculture has now helped establish 6 gardens and we expect many more to come,we have a peak body which represents over 500 members of the garden groups and we have a wealth of experience from this process,we are also learning as we go.So if you have some great ideas please share them with us.


These pictures are of our Christmas get together prizes ,plant swapping and a good time.Special thanks to Gold Coast City Council,The Gold Coast community Gardens Peak Body,The Gold Coast Botanical Gardens,Scott Godredson,Lyn Mansfield,Fernando Pessoa,Leah Galvin,David Webb,Southern Beaches ,Joan Park,Ashmore,Three Worlds,Peachy Street,Labrador,Varsity Veggies,Broadbeach gardens. To all those that attended,and made it a special day.

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Comments (4)

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Mark Brown
Mark Brown : Thanks Vanessa - I read it all. It was very informative. I had the pleasure of working with Faith at the Dungog Community Garden and was with Russ last week at ASFA, they are both wonderful people. Your english seems good to me , but then perhaps I am not that qualified to say. Mark
Posted over 13 years ago

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Paul Young
Paul Young : i read it all too, great article! i admire the people like yourself who excel at bringing people together and making a 'real community'. awesome! keep up the good work GC!
Posted over 13 years ago

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Vanessa Monge Augusto Fernandes
Vanessa Monge Augusto Fernandes : Thanks Paul I wish I could take credit,we have amazing people down here a great diverse and active team, all doing way more than me,I do what I can and I am learning off others,sharing what I have.The people at Northey Street and the Growing Communities crew in Brisbane are all great inspirations as are the wonderful people at Yandina community gardens who we aspire to be like in our humble little garden. The list is endless actually,my husband will tell you that Mark Brown walks on water.Thanks for you encouragement and we look forward to seeing your projects and updates.
Posted over 13 years ago

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Bryan West
Bryan West : Thank you for sharing this information, Vanessa. It is very informative for our own work. Bryan
Posted about 13 years ago

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