Kirra, Coolangatta and Tweed Heads

Monday 15 September 2014

9 Questions with Kate Miller

Founder of the Enid Street Community Garden Tweed Heads

Enid Street Garden - A Model of Community Success

You established the Enid Street Community Garden about a year ago.  What was your motivation in getting this started? 

My motivation was to try to build a community resource that was glaringly necessary and which I sensed would not ever be achieved unless I took the initiative.  Land in the Tweed area, particularly close in town, is a rare commodity.  A large part of the population (both young and old) lives in medium or high-density housing.  My motivation was to create a space, which would be easily accessible and could be shared for a common purpose. Simple really.
How has the journey been?  Have there been any particular challenges along the way? 

There haven't really been too many challenges; a group of committed supporters have assisted greatly. Nothing has been hard.
You’re a fifth generation Rainbow Bay local with a strong sense of involvement and connection to this community and area.  Has that played a part in the success of the Enid Street project? 

I don't think being a long-term local is a necessary attribute in the success of the garden.  Anyone interested in establishing such a venture would need to be motivated, able to harness networks, draw people together with a common spirit, and trust that fundamentally people are going to "do the right thing".  
Can you tell us about the house and land that you purchased for the project? 

The block of land at Enid Street has a red cedar and hardwood timber house which was built in 1947.  In buying this property, I am attempting to preserve an element of history and some open space.  Hopefully, the house will be standing for a long time into the future and can be preserved as an icon of our past where families lived in old timber houses with a back yard, high ceilings, wooden windows and "under the house" space.
Did you apply for grants or community funding to get the project started? 

We have not sought grants as I have been reluctant to get tied up in funding and the politics of using other people's money or resources.  The major support has come from individuals who have shared their expertise and resources because they have wanted to contribute to the success of the project.  
In what ways have the local residents and businesses come together to support the community garden? 

Bunnings (South Tweed) were gracious in donating, out of their community fund, a mower and whipper snipper, which was appreciated as I was hauling ours up and down between our farm at Uki and the Tweed.
Allan Blenkins Building was engaged to renovate and restore the house, and while I paid for the materials and labour, Allan donated his time and skill to project manage the upgrade. His company also made timber off cuts available which we have recycled into garden beds.  
Luke Feeney donated his considerable skill and time to build the initial beds which have set us up with strong professional structures that will last.  His design and build of the front gardens often draws comment and appreciation from passersby.  
Little Mali Cafe at Rainbow Bay recycle their coffee grounds and organic waste for our compost and worm farms.
Greg Nettle (Signxteme Signwriters) donated the logo emblazoned notice boards for the garden, and Art Baltroksy designed the logo.  
Tweed Pony Club provide us with a good supply of manure for our compost.
Southern Beaches Community Garden at Tugun, on GCCC land, has been very helpful to us in assisting with advice.
All of these contributions were from individuals who saw value in the project and wanted to contribute to its success.
Is there anything further you currently need? 

The garden is currently full and we have a waiting list of future gardeners. 

But what we do need at the moment is water tanks: we need 2 slimline water tanks. This would give us a renewable and sustainable water supply and free us of reliance on town water.
The only other element which would be sought, as a community donation or contribution, would be materials to make a vertical garden up our walls and fences. This would provide additional gardening space and assist some garden members who would prefer higher, more accessible, gardens.
The garden has connected the local community in many unexpected ways.  To what do you attribute its success? 

The success of the garden is primarily a result of the commitment of the current group of gardeners.  There is a set of simple guidelines which gardeners agree to stick to, and so far everything has run smoothly.  Everyone is trustworthy and the garden ticks over with minimal intervention.  A couple of Garden Committee members (Meagan, Julie and Suzi) do a significant amount of work behind the scenes keeping the shed stocked, getting beds built, working to fill beds with manure and woodchip, and emptying the compost bin regularly. Their commitment has made easy provision for other garden members.
You’ve offered mentoring and support for others wishing to establish a community garden.  How can interested people get in touch? 

People wanting to get in touch with me, or learn more about our project, can do so through our Facebook Page: Enid Street Community Garden.