If you already have a passion or a growing interest in natural health or self-reliance, you need to get down to the Coffs Regional Community Gardens to see what is rapidly becoming the greatest demonstration garden of sheer Organic abundance and sustainability on every level.

As you approach the CRCG walking through the Combine st reserve just 1km west of Coffs Harbour’s CBD, your eyes are instantly met by a lush boundary trellis covered in many different climbing edible species and a beautifully blended olive green meeting space with prominent solar panels protruding from the roof. These are but small tastes of the incredible diversity, sustainable technology and abundance that awaits inside the central fenced area of the garden.

 

  • The Coffs Regional community garden now has one of the most extensive ranges of Edible plants in NSW.  From subtropical and warm temperate fruits and nuts, annual and perennial vegies, herbs, grains, spices and bush tucker species all strategically planted in various food forest systems specific to their micro climate preferences. There is so much you can learn from these nature modeled systems, and one of their great beauties is that they just continue to become more fruitful as the seasons roll on.

 

CRCG Members  Nursery

CRCG Members Nursery

  • An Organic edible plant nursery for members.  This community garden has a great organic nursery filled with all kinds of edible and useful plants. From annual vegie and herb seedlings, to perennial vegies and fruit trees. Open to members of the CRCG, you won’t find such a great range in any local nursery, and all at very competitive prices, it’s worth becoming a member just to have access to this fantastic resource.

 

Solar powered aquaponics system

Solar powered aquaponics system

  • A  cutting edge fully sustainable aquaponics system. This is perhaps the most impressive technological achievement on the site. Completely run from stand alone solar power, the system is designed around the ‘CHOP’ (Constant Height One Pump) aquaponics model and built using recycled IBC tote drums. The system has three 1000L fish tanks and an additional 1000L rain water collection tank that captures water from the roof of the 5×2.5M hot house that houses the grow beds. The system has three gravel filled, bell siphon fitted, flood and drain grow beds, a combined three half totes connected as a sump that also grows floating raft lettuce and aquatic food plants including rice and kang kong (water spinach). Suspended over the sump area are two traditional hydroponic grow channels for strawberries. Aquaponics is a fascinating way to grow food naturally and we believe we have created a system that will be fully sustainable on every level, from the energy that it uses to operate, to the foods that we grow for our fish.

 

 

Chickens at the CRCG

Chickens at the CRCG

  • Back yard animals including Chickens, Muscovy ducks, Rabbits and guinea pigs. All are kept and managed organically with the chickens and muscovies having spacious runs and safe fully enclosed lockup quarters. The rabbits and guinea pigs are kept in mobile cages, giving them access to fresh  grass at each move across the lawn and are fed extensively from the lush bounty of vegetables, herbs and weeks that thrive at the garden. Many members come to the garden to enjoy our animals and they give great delight in their unique personalities and interactions.

 

Compost bays at the CRCG

Compost bays at the CRCG

  • Composting systems, many worm farms and liquid fertilizer fomenters.  With great emphasis on organic/ wholistic production and on creating the most nutrient rich produce possible, we strive to not only recycle all nutrients onsite, but also to create the most balanced and perfect compost and natural soil enhancement preparations possible.  These are available to members to use in their plots and for general use through the grounds of the CRCG.

 

 

  • 26 private organic garden plots. Members of the CRCG have the option when available to lease one of our fantastic private organic garden plots. These plots are filled with premium soil and compost and despite only being around 2.5 square metres in surface area, produce astounding quantities of lush, fully organic fresh herbs and vegies. Plots are leased over the financial year at $6 / month pro rata from the time of joining. These are a great way to learn about successful organic gardening with plenty of friendship and support from other plot holders and experienced garden  members.

 

  • Extensive communal gardens to enjoy, explore and be a part of. Fromintensive annual vegie production areas, to complex subtropical and warm temperate food forest systems. Animal forage systems in certain areas. A Giant raised mandala garden with an overhead trellis and an extensive heavy duty trellis around the central part of the garden covered with various edible vines, perennial and self seeding species.  There is a lot to explore and to observe growing in harmony and organic balance around the grounds. Members who help out with the maintenance and regular tasks share in the growing bounty of the garden.

 

 

View to the meeting space

View to the meeting space

  • Large meeting space with full stand alone solar power system.  Construction of our meeting space began in early 2013 and we now have a great, all weather meeting area, complete with fully stand alone solar power, an inverter to allow the running of regular 240V appliances such as a movie projector, lap top computers, printer and power tools. The meeting space will also have 12V LED lighting which will enable late evening events to be enjoyed with the convenience of fully dimmable and isolatable lighting. The meeting space also currently has a basic kitchenette with a gas powered BBQ, cook top and oven.  Plans are still underway to concrete the floor and to add flexible café style walls to make the meeting space very useable throughout the year and in all weather conditions.

 

 

Composting toilet

Composting toilet

  • Composting toilet – High tech design and 12volt solar fan operated air circulation.  Also installed towards the end of 2013, the CRCG has a fantastic Canadian designed highly efficient composting toilet on site. This model utilizes a specially formulated microbial mix that rapidly breaks down the material entering and is further enhanced with aeration from two 12V fans that run directly from a small 10 watt solar panel. This ensures plenty of fresh oxygen for the microbes which results in NO unpleasant smells being produced in the composting process.

 

 

  • Children’s play area with swing, sand pits and strawberry patch. Children are most welcome to attend the garden and are specially catered for at the CRCG with their own shaded play area. Many Children also enjoy the experience of feeding our animals and helping out with collecting the eggs, strawberries, cherry tomatoes and other seasonal berries.

 

  • The CRCG currently has Regular workshops on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month.  The workshops being held on the 4th Sunday are provided in partnership with Coffs Harbour City Council as part of their ‘Living lightly’  program and is absolutely free for people to attend. The workshops held on the 2nd Sunday of each month are put on by the CRCGA committee and provide further great learning opportunities on all things relating to health, Organic Gardening and self-reliance skills. Previous workshops conducted at the garden have included; Growing and using culinary and medicinal herbs; keeping Native bees; Plant propagation skills; Keeping productive back yard animals; Successful composting and worm farming; Cooking straight from the garden; Cheese making; Home brew Ginger beer making; Container gardening; Seed saving; Bees and Honey (European bees); Edible plants of the Coffs Region; Natural pest and disease control and many more!

 

 

Wood fired Oven at the CRCG

Wood fired Oven at the CRCG

  • Wood fired pizza oven and pizza herb garden.  Anyone who has tried food cooked in a wood fired oven knows the difference of that subtle Smokey flavour. Our oven is fully built from recycled materials and rapidly become a great focal point on many Sunday gatherings. Now over two years old and still going strong complete with its special cow manure/ straw/ clay  insulation render, it looks like it will stand another 20 years of use! Strategically close to the oven is a Pizza herb garden filled with Chives, thyme, oregano, French sorrel, Rosemary, Sage, basil and many more!

 

  • Large Rainwater catchment tanks and swails in the landscape. As part of our aims to demonstrate all aspects of self reliance, we have installed a 10,000 gallon header tank at the gardens’ highest point and a 20,000 gallon collection tank from our meeting space. This substantial rainwater reserve has allowed us to almost eliminate the use of town water on our gardens, further enhancing our organic principles and self-reliance aspirations. A 12V 60psi pressure pump is also used connected to the meeting space tank and allows us to utilize our rainwater at a pressure that is most adequate for the extensive watering of all our grounds. The food forests on the southern side of the garden are gently sloping and have a north facing aspect. This part of the garden can get very water logged due to additional run off from the neighbouring residential area and so a number of swails were dug into the landscape and this act to capture additional water for the soil in dry times when we have light showers, and allow excess water  to drain away when we have flash flooding.

 

 

  • Rehabilitated creek/ water way through the garden. What was originally just a stagnant weed infested drain, is now brimming with native sedge plants, many frog species and numerous native invertebrates. This project has become a clear example of how creating the suitable habitat will promote and sustain the desired species and overall ecology.

 

  • Customized garden tours. The CRCG  is very focused on empowering and results orientated education. In addition to our regular workshops, we also offer garden tours to suit the needs of any group or organization. From primary and secondary schools, Tafe and Uni students, other gardening and recreation groups, the CRCG can provide a suitable tour experience with the information and experiences tailored to your group’s particular needs. Please feel free to get in touch with the coordinator  via the contact page of our website or email directly to  Contact@CoffsCommunityGardens.org.au  for any further information.

 

See you soon, at the amazing Coffs Regional Community gardens!!

 

Matthew Downie Coordinator CRCG