Toowoomba Community Organic Garden
Toowoomba Organic Gardens (TOG) was a project of the Darling Downs Natural Growers Group (DDNGG) Inc which was incorporated in 1982. It met monthly with guest speakers, outings to members gardens etc. Several speakers introduced the concept of community gardens. A workshop was conducted to see where the members envisioned the DDNGG should go in the future. This workshop concluded that members would like to have their own meeting room where resources could be borrowed more often than monthly and a demonstration garden to show the public the principles and practises of organic gardening.
Joy van der Wyk outlined an idea to bring to life the group’s ideas.
The DDNGG members met and put together a proposal to establish a community education centre to teach and demonstrate:
- Community gardening for public participation.
- Food forest gardening Australian native foods.
- Small animal care – chooks, ducks, etc.
- permaculture principles
- wildlife habitat gardening
- Wind break demonstration area
- Local orchard planting
- Soil management
- Seasonal vegetation
The centre would also have relaxation and outdoor meeting facilities and educational signage boards.
Joy van der Wyk, Hazel Chersini and Yvonne Orlando attended a meeting of the Toowoomba City Council (TCC)to present the proposal for the establishment of this project. Joy outlined the history of the idea and an outline of the DDNGG. Yvonne outlined the grants needed to finance the project whilst Hazel outlined the benefits to the people of Toowoomba and the region.
The proposal was given the green light and possible sites visited. Goggs Street was chosen for its size and lack of use. The Goggs Street land was previously an extension of the properties facing Goggs Street prior to, and during WWII, to grow fruit and vegetables and to keep animals. Abandoned after the war, it became a haven for weeds and rats etc. so TCC resumed. Clare Staines (at that time landscape designer with the TCC) was approached to draw up some plans that could be presented to the TCC. Yvonne set about applying for suitable grants.
In October 1992 the first trees were planted in the windbreak at a public planting day. Over the next few years, the permaculture garden, wild life garden, native food forest were established. The shed, retaining walls, community garden beds, compost bins were constructed and sign boards erected. The bitumen driveway and parking were constructed. A lot of these projects were done as educational workshops, often run by professionals in their fields who donated their time and expertise. The founders gardens established in May 1997, with security fence being build in September 2001.
Monthly meetings and/or workshops occurred at the Gardens and new projects were taken on. St Mary’s College students built the large, covered area, the large tank was installed, and grants obtained for more water storage. A grant from Ergon Energy in 2010 enabled additional rental plots to be established with raised plots for children (members garden); the covered area at the end of the shed was constructed. A grant enabled the artwork to be done on the large tank and the colourful tiles (financed by Anglicare) were completed by a special group of children. Since that time, the Gardens have become a part of Toowoomba.
We are indebted to Joy van der Wyk, Kathryn Blackburn, Yvonne Orlando, Hazel Chersini, Glen Muller, Terry Ryan and Clare Staines, who along with many others, pioneered this project.
Toowoomba Community Organic Garden
In 1995 after discussions around the name of the association of DDNGG, the community gardens changed to Toowoomba Community Organic Gardens Association (TCOGA). TCOGA continues to maintain the gardens within Goggs Street park with the support of its members.