Project Update: The Apple Tree Garden, Northcote

Apple Tree Garden Northcote

Last year, two highly motivated, civic minded sisters approached Reclaim the Curb with ideas on a creating a garden near one of their houses in Northcote. What happened next was truly amazing and a true testament to Emily and Laura’s dedication to community development and resilience. A community was formed from neighbours, friends, family and the Reclaim the Curb network. Designs were drawn up and followed. Everyone pitched in materials and labour.

Its been almost a year now so its high time we check in to see how the site is developing and hear about the project.

 

How did the Apple Tree Garden start? Why did you want to reclaim this particular piece of land? What did you hope to achieve through the project in the beginning?

Laura and I saw an opportunity to make the space look and feel better, as the land had lots of junk dumped on it. Something had to be done to make it better. It also was nice for me to make my own community garden, as through my work with Urban Reforestation I had helped many other people set up community gardens and places but not actually had my own. It was special for that reason.
Our hope was to connect the community, share skills and add amenity to the street.
Was getting neighbourly support for the project easy? Has there been any surprises along the way?
Yes, there has been amazing community support. Many people connect to the space. One little girl that goes to the garden says “mummy, this gardens makes me feel like I am in a picture story book”.  Also a French film company came to film us and what we do. This story has now been protected out to hundreds and thousands of people across Europe and Canada. Hopefully the documentary is shown on Australian TV at some point!
Did you attract any other support for the project (other than the Reclaim the Curb followers)?

Yes, many people via Urban Reforestation media, and community people who pass by the garden and just join in! It was amazing to have reclaim the curb people kick-start the project!

Share with us the experience of the first working bee on the site. How many people helped out? What was the energy like from the people who were helping out? What materials were sourced and used? Did the gardening on the day follow the planned design?
It was fully energy, everyone taking responsibility, having fun and learning new skills. We had up to thirty people on the first working bee day. The garden on the day followed Lucas design. He did a great job getting everyone involved and embracing the design he made.

 

After the garden was established what was the response from the surrounding community?

The community LOVES it and everyone contributes in their way… Either by donating plants and furniture, watering, pruning and mowing the lawn.

 

Who enjoys the garden now that is it established? How is the garden maintained? Are the same people that helped out at the beginning still helping out now?

Children love the garden. It is nice for parents living nearby to take their children. Many of the same people are still involved. We have a “our apple tree” Facebook page that keeps the community informed about working bees etc.

What was your favourite part of reclaiming this space? What are your hopes and dreams for it in the future?
We hope to develop a beautiful “secret garden” that everyone in the community embraces. More vegetables, more people connecting to the space … We want the space to feel like an inclusive place for all people.
Maybe asking VicTrack for further support and organising the liscence for the land is the next step. This has been taking a while to negotiate…
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About Juliette

When Juliette was little, she came home from school and asked her mum in her little teary voice why the other kids at school didn’t like her. Her mum reassured her and said 'Don't worry Juliette, you're just different. That's all.' Since then, aware of her obvious difference to everyone else, Juliette is spending her time doing exactly what people wish to be doing – exactly what she wants. This blog is a celebration of taking a deep breath and just doing it. Currently Juliette can be found sipping tea and gardening somewhere in Central Victoria, Australia with her beloved and their excitable boys. She is also completing her PhD in Civic Agriculture and teaches at RMIT in Sustainable Consumption and Design Activism.

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