Ridley Grove Community Garden
Adelaide, South Australia
Do you live in Adelaide, South Australia, and want to get involved in a vibrant, local Community Garden project? Everyone is welcome, regardless of prior experience, and the garden is child, pet and disabled friendly!
||66 Ridley Grove, Woodville Gardens 5012
||Working bees are held on the first Saturday of each month 9:30am-12:00 noon
Volunteers also tend the garden on Tuesday and Thursday Mornings.
- Sustainable, organic gardening on Permaculture principles
- Raised garden beds
- Rare plants and fruit trees
- Butterfly and native garden trail
- Nursery area
- Wood fired pizza oven
- Undercover workshop space
- The New Beginnings Op-shop open Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Want to know more?
The On-going Story...
Ridley Grove Community Garden, in the space of three short years has created an area of native habitat that has attracted frogs, small reptiles, insects and birds back to the area. We utilise recylced materials to create equipment and beautify our garden. A series of interpretative sings that were created through a series of workshops will soon adorn the garden, further informing the public of the benefits of sustainable gardening, using local produce, urban biodiversity and eating wild foods. The communication we have with the local school ensures us of the educational impact our beautiful space has provided.
The establishment of Ridley Grove Community Garden started with the restoration of a Car Park on the grounds of the Woodville Gardens Uniting Church. This involved the help of a few friendly goats to clear the grass, building up the area with better soil and mulch, lots of composting and a lot of love and hard work. From a compacted surface of gravel and dolomite we have created a series of garden beds, an orchard and wall of espaliered fruit trees, succulent and drought tolerant garden beds and a native plant trail which surprise us every week with their growth and health.
Early on we invited children from the local school to come and plant many of the native plants that make up the butterfly trail and it is great to see the sense of ownership they feel over what they planted and the pride they feel in how well these hardy plants have grown. We also asked them to create butterfly-themed artwork for the garden so that the core purpose of the endemic plants would be reinforced.
We planned the garden using a number of sustainable gardening principles: espaliering the trees so that they would benefit from the residual heat of the brick wall, large compost bales to assist with soil quality and lessen the need for water and a zoned approach to the garden so that the area furthest away from the buildings needed the least tending. Although we have had set-backs from spells f very hot weather and the poor soil quality we have maintained our positivity through all of the small successes we enjoy.
In the initial stages, a number of endemic plants were distributed through the area, creating a butterfly trail, linking in with the goal of other several groups in Adelaide to bring the native butterflies back to the Adelaide Plains. We have started to extend this trail onto the verge, replacing the less environmentally sustainable patches of grass with beautiful groundcovers and grasses. We eventually plan to plant all the way to the nearby Mikawomma Reserve and even to The Parks Community Centre given time and community support. This will create a green corridor which is both aesthetically pleasing for the local community and will guide butterflies and other small native fauna from one area of habitat to another viable and safe area.
From the beginning we have followed principals of organic farming such as natural pest control, which has enabled us to create a safe environment for local species. We currently host a very vocal and rhythmic frog colony and many other fauna, from praying mantis, to geckos, to a plethora of native birds, which we provide habitat for in the form of plants, logs and nesting boxes respectively. We are constantly working to diversify the species and forms of habitat in our garden in order to attract further fauna. We are always delighted at the wildlife we encounter. The garden has become an oasis in an area which is surrounded be several major roads that carry heavy traffic.
The children who visit from the local school often comment on what a peaceful place it is and how much they enjoy spending time there. In this way we are embedding a respect and love of urban biodiversity in the next generation. We also have extensive anecdotal evidence from the children that their work with us at the garden has inspired them to plant native plants for habitat in their own backyard. This provides local fauna with more options and makes the survival of these species more likely.
Sustainable Resource Use
We endeavour to use recycled materials as much as possible. We are lucky enough to receive donations from the local community of plants, furniture, tools and building materials. A series of recently installed benches and pergolas are testament to the ingenuity with which we pursue the task of reusing materials. A donated bathtub has also made an excellent home for the worms we house, which do so much good for our entire garden.
We are very resourceful in the way that we use donated resources and we work with vigour and ingenuity to use the minimum amount of water possible to keep such a diverse and productive ecosystem viable. We feel strongly that the very nature of sustainable and native gardens such as ours means an excellent and efficient return for energy and resource expenditure. As we do not currently receive a reliable source of income we rely heavily on these in kind donations and so we use them as wisely as we can.
We practice numerous waterwise techniques at Ridley Grove. We have four large rainwater tanks that see us through most the year so that we do not need to use mains water. Choosing to plant endemic species has also meant that much of our garden needs little water. We also mulch regularly and plant in accordance with design principles that require less water, such as planting species at different heights in accordance with their drainage needs and in different degrees of shade in accordance with their tolerance.
Community Education and Engagement
Our group of volunteers, many of whom have been here from the beginning, regularly host workshops on gardening, cooking and other related themes. We hold low-cost festival days to showcase our environmentally garden and provide tips for sustainable garden to many members of this community who visit us.
In 2010 we ran a series of workshops that had various environmental themes. In one workshop we worked with a group of students from the local primary school with the concept of Urban Biodiversity. We talked about the significance of the bird boxes, logs and billabong in providing habitat for different species. We also discussed the different plants that attract different wildlife into the garden and reviewed the concept of ecosystems with the children. The students were receptive to all that we said and provided us with detailed feedback on their learning. This session was so successful it was requested that we repeat it later in the year.
Many classes from the local school have come to use the site to look at the principles covered in their science and environmental studies lessons. In this way the site is becoming a place of education in sustainability and best environmental practice for young people.
We also ran a sustainable gardening workshop in which we visited several other community gardens in a day of knowledge sharing about how to create environmentally sustainable gardens in a site-specific manner. Our workshops on wildfoods and multicultural foods also highlighted the important global elements of local food production.
Using the information gathered in the aforementioned workshops on sustainability, urban biodiveristy, edible wildfoods and multicultural foods we have created interpretative signage which will educate the community as to the multitude of ways in which we can make small changes to help our local environment and the world. This signage include possible actions to take such as visiting preferred websites for more information, making a practical change and visiting other environmentally educational sites such as the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. We have also included key words to search for further information. We are planning an event to celebrate the installation of these signs in October which will provide further opportunities to educate the local community on sustainability and the importance of the natural environment.
Like many other community projects we follow a strengths-based model of community learning. We know that many members of our community are concerned about the environment. Assisting us in the garden is a practical way for them to feel a sense of agency where the natural world in concerned. Children are particularly encouraged when they know that these small acts make a difference where some of the big issues such as climate change, species lost and pollution are concerned.
Harvesting Our Suburb
One of the most exciting results of our work with the local school has been how it has inspired young people to start growing vegetables in their backyard. After tasting a tomato fresh of the vine they understand what fresh really means and will put in some extra effort for the reward.
In the next few years as the fruit trees establish and the soil regains its fertility we will be producing much more surplus produce which we can give to the local community, reducing food miles and thus reducing the carbon footprint of our neighbourhood. As we are growing edible wildfoods which require less water and maintenance we are also producing food that has less impact on the natural environment than introduced species. We encourage visiting students to try these species. As we give them the opportunity to experience these new and diverse flavours early they are more likely to be open to these experiences in the future. We are teaching young people to eat locally and seasonally, which is better for them and the environment.
The workshops we hosted on growing diverse crops and edible wildfoods also illustrated the potential to the community of how much we can grow in our backyards that means we put less of a strain on the environment through the resources needed to transport food and grow it in incompatible climates. We use permaculture principles which means that we do not expend more energy and resources than is reasonable on the food we are growing, in this way we keep the footprint of the garden low.
The most exciting element of our project is the possibilities for growth in the future. As the plants become further established and more fauna utilise the space we will see further diversification of species. We will continue to guide this through natural pest control of invasive fauna and flora species.
As we grow more of our own food we will continue to reduce our carbon footprint and as fruit trees and other deep rooted food plants establish they will have less need for water and provide shade for smaller plant varieties thus again reducing the need for extra water. We hope that in the next few years we will rely totally on the four large tanks we use for our water needs. As the major obstacle to extending our project is funding we hope also to reap the financial rewards of good environmental management through further plant sales and educational programs.
The installation of our series of signs and the companion documents we are developing for our website will further develop Ridley Grove as an environmental education zone. The green corridor we are creating will also serve to lower the relative heat in the area in summer, making plant growth easier and giving respite to fauna.
Our garden is also a working example of how easy, with a bit of planning, gardening can be. We know we are inspiring members of the local community to try and create a bit of habitat and food in their backyard. We envisage a plethora of small orchards, veggies patches and endemic plants all contributing to the greening of our community.
Article Written By Anna Tate
Ridley Grove Community Garden member.
If you are interested in Community Gardens in other locations, check out our articles below.
Noarlunga Downs School Community Garden, Noarlunga Downs South Australia
Flinders University Community Permaculture Garden , Bedford Park South Australia
Fern Avenue Community Garden, Fullarton South Australia
Community Gardens are a great way to share knowledge, skills and a love of gardening, as well as the benefits of physical activity in the outdoors, the social and community benefits and the wonderful food you grow! Well worth getting involved!