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Monday, September 6, 2010

Railway Estate Community Gardens

Originally know as the Diversity Gardens, this multiple acre site is a community garden managed by the Townsville City Council and its allotment holders.
The Intention of the gardens was to support traditional gardening practices and foster intercultural interaction and sharing of knowledge and skills.
"The Community Diversity Garden was established by the Townsville City Council
in collaboration with the Federal Department of Family and Community Services,
Multicultural Affairs Queensland's Local Area Multicultural Partnership (LAMP)
Program and the local Community. The planning and creation of the Community
Diversity Garden was undertaken with the participation of various community
groups and individuals."

It is currently undergoing a renewal of Interest with many new members and community groups taking on Plots and getting involved.

The Gardens are supplied with irrigation lines so that each plot has access to mains water and plots vary in size , though ours is about 8 metres wide by about 26 metres long.

The gardens members come from a wide array of Ethnic backgrounds, some are Australian Born, others include Papua new guinea, The Philipines, Greece, El Salvador and Fiji.

These members bring with them their own gardening styles as a fusion of Traditional and their own ingenuity, as well as Traditional crops and the knowledge of how to grow, harvest and prepare them. We will showcase some of these in future along with Traditional names and specific information on use.

The Papuan gardeners bring Aibika, Pit pit, Sugar cane, Yam, Cocoyam and Cassava, The El Salvador Gardeners bring Tall Maize for making traditional dishes, Squash fruit grown for their edible seeds, Choko vines and rare fruits like spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus) , The Philipino gardener has planted perennial vegetables like Moringa and Thai pea eggplant. And everybody grows Bananas, of several kinds.
These plants get widely exchanged between members along with the information on how to use them
They have already instructed in when to harvest Bananas, and i have taugh them that the weedy groundcover they are always trying to remove, is actually a Nitrogen fixing groundcover called Desmodium they would do better to simply trim back and drop as fertilizer. In future i will quizz them more on their plants, their uses and recipes, and i will introduce them to alternative legume groundcovers and other useful plants

We have gained access to a plot, an overgrown one left vacant by the Phillipino Gardener. We inherit a range of plants, and we are already adding our own to the inventory

My Papuan neighbour was happy to see me planting a seeded Breadfruit (Artocarpus camansi) near our boundary, these are popular in PNG and the seeds are eaten as well as the fruit. Our seeds came from Bali, where it is known as Timbul, but it is the same plant.

We also bring many varieties of Basils, Chillis and Pawpaw/ Papaya. We are also planting Pepper vines, Vanilla , Basella, Bitter Gourds and Winged beans on the fences.

The Plot : We are removing and composting the banana trash, fertilizing with Dolomite and Gypsum and trimming back all weedy and dead growth to serve as a mulch layer to improve the sandy soil base. In future we may start turning woody waste to biochar.
This will be our first truly Tropical Food forest, though we have built them before in the Subtropics. There is a lot to learn, but the other members are very helpful

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