President's Report

Annual General Meeting November 2014
President’s Report

Once again Mosman Community Gardeners went from strength to strength. The new rotunda at Mackie Lane provided the focus for our education program as well as many celebrations; the gardens at Mackie Lane and Middle Head flourished; our partnerships deepened; and MCG continued its mission to inspire and encourage sustainability, the cultivation of edible plants and sharing of food, and the nurturing of community connections and friendships.
Highlights of 2014

The Rotunda
Fortunately the Mackie Lane rotunda was completed towards the end of 2013 in time to cope with the hot summer months. As anticipated, it was the hub of our education activities and numerous garden celebrations throughout 2014, with some members taking the opportunity to host private functions under its shade. Special thanks are due to Chris Lee and the construction team. Chris continues to enhance the Rotunda’s contribution to the garden and to showcase sustainability initiatives, including piping together recycled water bins to catch water from the roof. The  installation of solar panels to provide lighting is planned for the future.

Each month we celebrated with food and drinks and in October MCG hosted a special afternoon tea to thank Rotary for generously providing funds to build the Rotunda. There was an impressive turnout resulting in new members and lots of ideas for future projects such as a watering system for the entire garden. The celebration coincided with the three-year anniversary of the first Mackie Lane working bee.

Mackie Lane
We built new wicking beds at Mackie Lane and there was much planting, harvesting and refurbishing, as well as a record number of visitors who came to be inspired and learn from what we're doing. We covered all the concrete areas with wood chips, transforming the look and feel of the garden, cutting down heat and providing mulch. Now that we have more land at Mackie Lane and the garden infrastructure is well established, we decided to allocate individual allotments, and several members have taken up this opportunity. On a sad note, Ann Pollard, one of our most dedicated gardeners, died suddenly in October. Her enthusiasm, joy of life and good nature will be sorely missed. 

Inspiring the next generation
Our children’s program continues with Kids Cottage Middle Harbour children tending and harvesting their dedicated beds and children from nearby Kinderland visiting to learn about edible gardening. Mackie Lane garden is very family friendly with a cubby house, sandpit, blackboard and gardening activities to engage the kids. Students are also volunteering in the garden as part of the Duke of Edinburgh program. The Mosman Community College art classes at the garden for both adults and children were so successful that it is proposed to run a whole botanical art program next year, and the College used Mackie Lane to run a photography class. Once again, we hosted Grandparents Day for Mosman Council.

Middle Head
During the year four new above ground beds were added to the Middle Head garden, three of them with donated rosella plants. One of our members made Rosella jam from the garden to share with the wider Mosman Community Gardeners' group. Middle Head gardeners continue to enjoy 'drinks and nibbles' each month and where possible have taken the opportunity to explain the garden to visitors wandering through the area. Plants and flowers from the garden have been picked and added to those from Mackie Lane to donate to The Carers' Cafe at Mosman Council each month. Members have assisted with special days organised by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and we were able to prepare and share lunch with a group of refugees who visited and worked with NPWS.

Thank you
Thank you to our partners and supporters: Rotary, Bendigo Bank, Bunnings, Mosman Council, Ausgrid, NPWS, Kimbriki, Poskitt Design, Proj-X, Honeysuckle Garden Centre and the Mosman Daily. Many thanks to the MCG office bearers: Lilian Andrew, Peter Hook, Diana Gibson, Gill Lee, Kerry Bullock and Elizabeth Luke. Special thanks to Gill Lee for her work as garden coordinator at Mackie Lane, and to Elizabeth Luke for garden coordination at Middle Head. Our heartfelt thanks to all MCG volunteers for giving so generously of their time and skills, and for their continued support and dedication to community gardening.

On a personal note, my other commitments increased this year so I needed to step aside as President. Many thanks to Lilian Andrew and Peter Hook, who took over the responsibilities. We have come a long way since our first meetings nearly five years ago when we had no land and spent most of our time lobbying for a community garden. Today we have two thriving gardens, an ever-growing membership, and importantly, have succeeded in bringing the cause of growing edible plants to the attention of the Council and the community.

Middle Head and Mackie Lane continue to produce an abundance of vegetables, herbs and flowers and provide a happy place to garden and share food and friendships. Thanks to our wonderful members, we can be proud of our achievements in 2014 and look forward to another successful year ahead.

Tina Jackson
November 2014 

Annual General Meeting November 2013
President’s Report: Tina Jackson

2013 was a year of consolidation for Mosman Community Gardeners, as well as new successes. We doubled the size of the gardens, introducing new approaches such as vertical gardens, square metre gardens and wicking beds; expanded and deepened our partnerships and support; extended our outreach program; and built a much needed shade structure to improve the garden’s amenity and allow us to expand our education and events program.

Highlights of 2013

Doubling of Mackie Lane Garden
Mackie Lane was again transformed with the addition of 87 square metres to our original garden. Construction continued over the 2012/13 summer months thanks to a dedicated hard working group of volunteers who built garden beds with hardwood pallet bases and donated recycled hardwood fencing. During the summer holidays we welcomed numerous visitors to Mackie Lane, many of who became new members. The 4m banner prominently seen from Military Road attracted much interest and helped promote our community garden’s location and activities. Over winter we continued to build new beds in readiness for groups of children from Middle Harbour After School Care and Bond Street Montessori.

Each month we celebrated with food and drinks on the first Sunday of the month. In October Mosman Community Gardeners hosted a fun afternoon for Grandparents Day. The celebration coincided with the two-year anniversary of the first Mackie Lane working bee.

Innovation and inspiration
We experimented with new approaches to inspire community and home gardeners such as square metre beds modeled on the work of Lolo Houbein; vertical gardens using roof guttering and pallets on their sides secured with steel posts to grow strawberry runners. With the expansion of the garden the task of watering and the amount of water required is also growing. In response we built raised beds that virtually watered themselves using a wicking system. With a few bamboo sticks, string, bricks and pots and pea seeds we built a productive cubby house for the kids – a pea teepee. Another garden highlight was the Mackie Lane fence awash with colourful sweet peas that delighted passers by, especially the residents of The Manors and Mackie Lane.

A new landmark
Driving along Military Road it is hard to miss the new Mackie Lane Rotunda. This impressive hexagonal structure was inspired by Paddington Community Garden’s rotunda, and we are very grateful to Rob Joyner for sharing his design and expertise. Special thanks are due to Chris Lee who worked with Calam Findlay and the rest of the Mackie Lane construction team to build the Rotunda. It is a spectacular piece of workmanship and beautifully built. We look forward to the celebrations in the new year to mark its completion and to the many events, festivities and workshops it will provide shelter for. It is a landmark for the garden, giving it a real sense of place, as well as a symbol of how far we have come.

Middle Head
Our original community garden, set in beautiful bushland at Middle Head continues to be a hive of activity and bountiful harvest. MCG members generously volunteered their time to assist NPWS with events at the Soldiers’ Institute, preparing delicious food with produce from the garden. We've been involved with many events at Middle Head, from art exhibitions to the Skinny.

Mosman Community Gardeners continue to work with other groups to foster edible gardening such Beauty Point Public School and to give advice to other gardens such as Neutral Bay Community Garden. We encourage verge gardening and assist and advise residents to make use of suitable nature strip land to grow food.

Our partnerships have expanded and deepened
Mosman Council produced videos on sustainable living, one of which focuses on community gardening at Mackie Lane. Council once again supported us with a grant to expand the number of garden beds and implement our plans for a kids program. The Mosman Daily, which has covered the gardens’ progress since our inception, recently published the first of regular community garden updates. Bunnings Balgowlah donated a large garden shed, which was erected with the help of the Men’s Shed. Rotary very kindly gave us a grant that has gone towards the building of the Mackie Lane rotunda.

Thank you
We are very grateful for the support of our ongoing sponsors. We could not have built the garden without the financial support of Bendigo Bank, Rotary, Bunnings and Mosman Council. Many thanks also to Ausgrid, NPWS, Kimbriki, Poskitt Design, Proj-X, Honeysuckle Garden Centre, Mosman Climate Challenge Group and the Mosman Daily.

MCG members have shared their vast array of skills and we are very lucky to have such an enthusiastic team of volunteers. Thank you to the MCG office bearers: Lilian Andrew, Peter Hook, Diana Gibson, Gill Lee, Kerry Bullock and Greg Burns. Particular thanks are due to Greg for his dedication to Mackie Lane Garden and to Silvana Griffin who was the Mackie Lane Garden Coordinator until part way through the year.

We note with much sadness the passing of David Luke, a founding member of MCG and stalwart of the group. Many MCG gardeners joined David’s large family and wide circle of friends to wish him farewell. A sandpaper fig has been planted in David Luke’s memory and a lovely piece of sandstone found by one of the NPWS volunteers has been made into a plaque in David’s honour.

Outlook for 2013
Mosman Community Gardeners continues to go from strength to strength. Our gardens are welcoming places where people can learn how to cultivate edible plants, as well as to share food and connect with neighbours and friends. Our future is bright thanks to the camaraderie, dedication and enthusiasm of our members and supporters.

Tina Jackson
20 November 2013


Annual General Meeting November 2012

President's Report:  Tina Jackson

2012 has been a year of huge growth and success for Mosman Community Gardeners (MCG). Our gardens more than doubled in size, our membership and partnerships grew and our sponsorship and financial support increased. We received a Keep Australia Beautiful Award and significantly raised the profile of community gardening in Mosman. We have shown what a dedicated community group with limited financial resources can achieve with vision and determination.

Highlights of 2012

Transformation of a wasteland into an oasis

Around this time last year Ausgrid gave us permission to build a garden on their land at Mackie Lane, with the support of Mosman Council. In just four months our enthusiastic team of volunteers turned a deserted weed infested industrial site into an oasis, growing mostly edible plants using the principles of sustainable gardening. We built raised beds on the concrete slabs left behind from the old workshops using recycled and donated materials.

No edible plants have direct contact with the original soil in case of soil contamination, and higher beds have been built for the elderly and people with mobility issues. Our gardens are chemical free and our imported garden bed soil is enriched with composted kitchen scraps and recycled green waste compost. Seed stock is collected for future planting and to be shared. A practical example of temporary urban farming, the Mackie Lane Community Garden is an exemplar for how other disused city sites can be put to productive use for the benefit of the community.

The Mayor of Mosman officially opened the garden in February 2012 and many local residents joined us for the celebration. Since then an unexpected outcome has been the constant stream of visitors and high level of community engagement. Children come for educational visits from local schools; residents from the adjacent retirement home take an active interest in the garden's progress and are encouraged to help themselves to the mixed herb pots along the fence. People who have lived in the neighbourhood for over a decade report meeting their neighbours for the first time.

Recognition of our achievements

In recognition of our achievements, Mosman Community Gardeners was honoured to receive the inaugural 2012 Keep Australia Beautiful Award for Sustainable Gardens for Mackie Lane, against some formidable competition. A further endorsement of our enterprise was the recent agreement by Ausgrid and Mosman Council to double the size of the Mackie Lane garden by moving the fence adjoining the vacant land.

Middle Head expansion

Our partnership with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at Middle Head continues, and with their support, we have expanded the gardens and planted a bush tucker garden. MCG members generously volunteered their time to assist NPWS with events at the Soldiers’ Institute, preparing delicious food with produce from the garden.

Our partnerships grew and strengthened

Mosman Council again awarded us a community grant and Council staff have individually joined MCG. We received generous in-kind support from Bunnings and Honeysuckle Nursery and very welcome financial sponsorship from Bendigo Bank. Kimbriki kindly supplied recycled materials free of charge and we received ongoing financial assistance from Mosman Council to purchase soil, manure and mulch. We are grateful to Ausgrid and the National Parks and Wildlife Service for allowing us to garden on their land and for their ongoing support.

We assisted Mosman Home Gardeners with the Big Lunch for the third year in a row. Other community partners included the Mosman Climate Challenge Group who kindly gave us a donation, Cancer Council North Shore Relay for Life, the Men’s Shed and the Mosman Daily, which promoted the garden throughout the year and helped us raise awareness in the community.

Education and outreach

Our gardens point the way to living sustainably in an urban environment showing planting tips, waste minimisation, composting and water usage techniques that can be used by people in their own homes. This year we held demonstrations on topics such as worm farms and composting and will expand our offerings next year. MCG members helped set up a community garden at Neutral Bay Uniting Church, build vegetable gardens Beauty Point Public School, assisted NPWS with corporate volunteer days and forged links with the Carriageworks Kitchen Garden Project. We also continue to encourage gardening on nature strips. Not long ago there were very few verge gardens in the suburb, now there are many inspiring examples. We promote this and other progress on our website and via our regular email updates to a growing support base.

We also have a lot of fun. During the Mackie Lane construction phase, for example, there was much eating and drinking as well as hard work! Our gardens are welcoming places where people can learn how to cultivate edible plants, as well as to share food and connect with neighbours and friends.

Team effort 

MCG members have shared their vast array of skills, from gardening and gardening design to building and construction, communications, publicity and marketing, proposal writing, cooking, management and accounting. Many have visited other gardens and attended conferences and talks for inspiration, and helped spread the word to friends and potential supporters.

I thank our wonderful volunteers and MCG office bearers for generously giving their time and expertise throughout the year.

Outlook for 2013

Our future is bright; we have a great volunteer team, a large new space to garden and growing support for the cause from the community. With two successful gardens and an expanding outreach and education program, Mosman Community Gardeners is well on the way to fulfilling its vision of fostering community and home food gardening throughout the suburb. Growing vegetables, once seen as part of an alternative lifestyle, is becoming mainstream once again.

Tina Jackson
21 November 2012


Annual General Meeting November 2011

President's Report:  Lisa Landon-Smith

This AGM marks the closing of another eventful year for the Mosman Community Gardeners (MCG). Like our gardens we are a thriving group and there are many highlights from 2011 to reflect on. We have had many satisfying harvests and our involvement in the community grows. I think you can say that the Mosman Community is beginning to know MCG!

Highlights from 2011

Our Gardens are growing
We have now been tending the garden for National Parks and Wildlife Services at Middle Head as volunteers for over a year. It is a wonderful demonstration of what can be achieved, even on a small scale and has allowed our members to get their hands dirty, whilst we pursue other gardens to grow edible plants for local residents.

A new project in Mackie Lane on a vacant Ausgrid site is our next step in expanding our gardening activities. It is early days, however we have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and energy of local residents who are working on setting up the site and building of garden beds.

We have been active in the community
The involvement of the MCG in the recent Big Lunch as part of the Mosman Festival in conjunction with Mosman Home Gardeners showcased our gardens and our community spirit.

MCG members have generously volunteered their time to assist National Parks and Wildlife Services with events this year, covering:

  • the volunteer Christmas party
  • an Exhibition by a local artist
  • a visiting delegation from IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and National Parks chiefs from around Australia (National Parks, Parks Victoria and NPWS).
All events were held at the Soldiers Institute at Middle Head with the garden looking bountiful and guests enjoying a variety of dishes prepared by our members using produce from the garden.

We have built strong relationships
Members of MCG prepared a compelling submission to Council for a community garden at Rosherville Reserve. Unfortunately the proposal was not embraced by all the local Community and did not receive the full support of Council. However, the opportunity has opened up our dialogue with Council and our activities are growing in support from both Council staff and our Councillors. We have received valuable mentorship from Warren Yates and Denise Wilton, who have been great supporters of MCG from the beginning.

Our members have had an opportunity to present to Council on a number of occasions.

We have recently been successful in securing a grant from Council of $1500 and a contribution towards soil and plants for Mackie Lane.

Our relationship with Ausgrid has expanded from our first gardening activity in Bardwell Rd through to the new and larger Mackie Lane site. We are excited about transforming this vacant and industrial site into an oasis. An agreement with Ausgrid and Council has been signed with MCG.

Our profile is growing
Our activities have been well documented by the Mosman Daily, with articles covering our proposal for a garden at Rosherville Reserve, the "before" photos of the Mackie Lane project and just recently we were being touted for one of the newspaper’s first community grants.

Outlook for 2012

We are in great shape, with two active gardens and our membership growing, we should be proud of our success and look forward to 2012 with enthusiasm. Our members have generously given their time and shared their skills whilst working together as a strong team to achieve these exceptional results.

Our office bearers have completed their duties with diligence and in good humour. Thank you.

Personally, it has been a privilege and a joy to be your President. I look forward to my ongoing involvement and to see MCG continue to grow and mature under a new leader. This is a serious undertaking – but like a job in the garden – many hands make light work.

Lisa Landon-Smith
16 November 2011

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