We should never underestimate the capacity of a community garden to meet the needs of individuals. By spending time in the great outdoors, meeting like-minded people, keeping physically fit and connecting with community, it’s a wonderful meeting place where people care for each other and share in a way that benefits everyone.” Jo Dean.

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Jo Dean is a PA professional member based in Launceston, Tasmania with a background in Landcare and garden basedcommunity development. She is also the Tasmania state representative for the Australian Community Gardens Network and runs Gentle Footprints Permaculture.

In 2007, a school garden based on permaculture principles was established at West Launceston Primary School in Northern Tasmania. The design, by PA member Hannah Maloney from Good Life Permaculture:

  • collects and stores rainwater off the classrooms adjacent to the garden for maintaining the garden
  • has additional garden beds built by community members during weekend working bees, and
  • has parent and carers who volunteer in the garden and assist with the education programs.
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The school children planted local habitat plants to encourage blue wrens and thornbill birds into the garden to assist with insect control. They have also installed two ponds with associated wetland ecosystems for frogs, and there are three clusters of growing tadpoles in the pond already this year. The school children also love the frog viewing platform, making it easy to watch them grow, and lift the lid to feed them lettuce or silverbeet from the organic garden.  

The Afghan Hazara community, who have children at the school, utilize half of the 20 garden beds to grow herbs and vegetables for home use. Leeks and coriander grown in the garden by the community were also used to make Bolani, a favourite Afghan traditional snack, and shared across all classes for Harmony Day in 2018.

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Children across all age groups utilize the garden during lunchtime and recess time, as well as once/week as part of their learning activities.  Many hours are spent exploring and observing in the garden, understanding and appreciating the many little critters that inhabit the space. Jo, who is employed by the school, supports the learning in the garden which includes growing seedlings (for home and the school garden), making compost and worm farms. Buckets are kept in the classroom next to the bin as an organic waste collection point to add to the garden worm farms. Senior students run lunchtime workshops in the greenhouse for the younger students. The most recent project is building a cob wall using ecobricks made from 2L milk containers – using products that would go to waste.

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In 2018, Jo, with the assistance of an interpreter and other community permaculture members, taught an Introduction to Permaculture course over two weekeneds for the Afghan Hazara Community. The topics included aspect and sunlight hours, microclimates, soil care, making a portable wicking bed, worm farms and compost, ways to reduce your power bill, integrated pest control and celebrating community connections.

More information:

Jo is professional member of Permaculture Australia, the national member based organisation in Australia. Sign up as a member here today to join hundreds of members across Australia advocating for permaculture solutions.  

Australian Community Gardens has a great range of resources for community gardens, including locations and how you can get involved. Find out more here.   If you are a PA member and have a story to share about your permaculture activities in the community, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch via hello@permacultureaustralia.org.au so we can shre your story too.

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