In the world of not for profit community organizations, dedicated volunteers are both the life blood and the backbone. Without these thoroughly committed people contributing their time and energy for causes close to their hearts, our communities would be all the poorer.

Rhondda and Mike 2014

Rhondda and Mike Daniell are just such people. Their sustained commitment to the establishment and ongoing development of the Coffs Regional Community Gardens is exemplary. Both have been involved since early 2010 when the fledgling association was formed and they have been an integral part of the committee all the way until August 2014.

When asked about their experience with the Coffs Regional Community Garden. They recollected the early days where a small group of around nine enthusiastic people were involved with many hours of negotiations with Coffs Harbour city council representatives and local residents before a final site was selected and approved for the CRCG.

A relatively bare piece of land in the south eastern corner of Combine St reserve become the final destination for the garden to grow and evolve over the coming years.  Many more meetings on the grass of the new site were held with thermoses of tea and coffee, enjoyed with Rhonddas’ homemade cakes and biscuits.  Progress was slow for a while as the newly formed committee grappled with many new challenges, but by early 2012 a more results focused group started to emerge and towards the end of 2012 the garden was rapidly developing in many new areas.

Mike recalls his satisfaction in 2012 of finally being able to bring in some of his own plants from home and start planting them out into the fledgling Coffs Regional Community garden. It had been a long time coming but now, good soil had been brought in for raised beds over the clay pan that covers much of the site. Food forests had been initiated and a vast range of fruit and nut trees planted out. The gardens’ nursery was also established in 2012 and continues to expand and provide all of the gardens and members plant needs. Mike continues to propagate many useful plants at home and regularly brings these to the garden for planting out and member distribution.

By late 2012 the planned private plots for the garden were well underway.  Rhondda and Mike were amongst the very first people to take up a private plot in the community garden and impressed many members and visitors alike with the health and variety of the plants and produce in their patch. By late 2013 the now 26 private plots were made available for members to have their own special piece of the garden to enjoy and experiment in.

 

Rhondda & Mike + giant Beetroot

Rhondda & Mike + giant Beetroot

In 2012 our wood fired pizza oven was also built from recycled materials at a grant cost of $120. From this time the gardens ‘Catering pod’ was formed with Rhondda playing a central role in both hands on food preparation for the group and logistics of organizing for many workshops and events at the garden.

The garden was officially launched to the Coffs Harbour community in October 2012 and has never looked back since this time.

In 2013 saw the beginning and main works completed on the gardens meeting space. Comprised of a lockup office area and a large open under cover area of around 50M2 the meeting space has provided welcome respite from both the hot sun and flash storms. The meeting space now has fully stand alone solar power installed, large rain water catchment tank and a developing kitchen facility.

Towards the end of 2013 a high tech composting toilet was acquired for the garden bringing much relief to members and particular appreciation to many of the lady folk. Also late in 2013, productive animals including chickens, Muscovy ducks, rabbits and guinea pigs were first  trialed and then housed permanently at the garden.

In 2014 a partnership the local employment agency ETC started a work for the dole program at the garden. This has allowed a lot more development, consolidation and general work to be put in on the ground at the garden. One of the most exciting achievements of 2014 has been the creation of our fully sustainable aquaponics system, also running on standalone solar power, we uniquely grow all our own foods for the fish, yabbies and mussels that we keep in the system.

In October 2014 as of this writing Rhondda and Mike are now recently retired from the committee side of the garden but remain active and vital members helping out regularly with events and general care of the garden and its facilities.

In recognition of this great contribution and continuing dedication to the garden and association, Rhondda and Mike were inducted as the very first honorary lifetime members of Coffs Regional Community Gardens in September of 2014.

We hope to see them around the garden enjoying the fruits of all their love and labour for many more years to come.