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How To Get Involved | Milson Community Garden

How To Get Involved

Want to join Milson Community Garden?

All welcome!
Anyone who lives in the North Sydney Municipality can join. You can come to the garden on Sunday mornings from 10:00am until around 1:00pm (and Wednesdays 5:00pm – 7:00pm during the daylight saving time). Volunteers pay a contribution of $2 when they work in the garden which goes towards supplies for the garden.

No prior gardening experience required.
Working to a planting plan, the Operations Co-ordinators write the tasks on the blackboard and each person chooses a task or tasks to do.  The Co-ordinators advise on techniques e.g. how deep to plant seeds, how to pinch laterals out of tomatoes etc.

Don’t be shy, just turn up and say hello.
The garden is wheelchair accessible. Access is open to everyone unless advised otherwise on the gate. The garden has a child proof lock on gates, so children must be supervised by an adult. In Winter we have a steady number of 8 – 12 and in Summer that number rises. One summer Sunday saw 24 people come to the garden! Some people have work or family commitments which only allow them to participate by watering the garden by hose or hand.

We don’t have allotment in the garden.
From inception, Milson Community Garden (MCG) has operated as a collective. North Sydney Council gave approval on this basis. We have an established planting plan which allows for crop rotation to minimize spread of diseases and maintains optimum cropping.

The bed outside the garden fence is also cared for by the volunteers who have planted it with perennial vegetables, herbs and companion flowers. These include rhubarb, thyme, rosemary and lavender, which in time will provide an abundance of herbs and produce. Harvesting will occur upon invitation when the plants are mature and to avoid damage to the plants, instruction on how to pick will be provided by volunteers.

Volunteers share the harvest.
Volunteers who work in the garden can share in the harvest. We are happy to share small amounts of herbs with visitors anytime. When there is an abundance of herbs, local people can have a bunch too. It is preferred that they ask a volunteer in the garden to cut the herbs for them. If there is no one in the garden, local residents are asked to pick herbs sparingly, down at the base of the plant, at ground level, to avoid damage to the plant. If there is an abundance of other vegetables, then local residents are invited to take from baskets picked by volunteers. These baskets are placed outside the fence with a sign inviting them to share.

Very occasionally stealing will occur but we are surrounded and overlooked by dense housing and the residents keep an eye on the garden. They alert us by text message, or on one occasion, a neighbour ran to the garden and ejected a group damaging the garden. Generally speaking people are very respectful and protective of the garden.

More About How Our Garden Works

We grow mostly heirloom vegetables.
An heirloom plant is an old type that may have been commonly grown during earlier periods and is still maintained by gardeners and farmers but they are not used in modern large-scale agriculture. We also grow strawberries and companion flowers. Our plants are mainly raised by seeds. We find that our yield is better when the plants are used to the micro-climate. Our purple beans are currently the 6th generation grown in the area. Bee attracting flowers are grown outside the fence along with tansy, a well known insect attractor.

We use organic soil, cow manure and pest controls.
Our soil is certified by an organic certifier. We use organic cow manure and fowl manure, but our main fertilisers are donated worm juice and Bokashi juice, together with SeaSol, a seaweed fertiliser.

We use organic pest control sprays and nets. We are currently investigating the use of ultrasonic gadgets to scare birds, rats and possums. They have been used successfully at Diggers Seeds organic garden in Dromana, Victoria.

We are supported by the North Sydney Council and community members.
The North Sydney Council originally provided funds for the construction of the garden and continues to support the garden with an allocation of money to supplement what is raised by the community. Local volunteers physically built the garden beds. There is a lot of good will towards the garden and gardeners.

We are grateful that so many people support the garden, although for various reasons, they cannot work in the garden. These residents walk in the garden, remove grubs from the plants by hand and enthusiastically join in any fund raising efforts. Some people who visit the garden will make a donation and others purchase seedlings which we have raised.