Plots: There are 10 garden beds. One for herbs, one for flowers, one for indigenous food, and the rest for vegetables. Most people who take things take herbs because they are easily recognisable. The flower plot is used to attract pollinators for the garden. The indigenous food plot is controlled by the university, so we do not do anything to that plot.
Tasks: Just like most gardens, it does not require too much strenuous maintenance especially with more people involved. It needs to be weeded, mulched, planted, and watered regularly in the summer months.
Sustainability: The first thing this garden does well is through composting and green manuring. All green waste is either put in the bins or cut up and put back on or in the soil to decompose there and return the nutrients back into the soil. Both of these techniques reduce greenhouse gas emissions greatly. Another great thing about this garden is there are no chemical herbicides, pesticides, or fertilisers. They only use natural fertilisers such as the green manure or other organic manure.
Recent work: For most of the time I volunteered, we were weeding and clearing old plants to make room for planting for the spring. We spent a lot of time taking down plants and cutting them to put back into the soil. Then, we covered them with a light layer of dried sugar cane mulch which is a by-product of the sugar cane industry. It surprised me how quickly things decomposed. In the pictures, you will see what might look like a bunch of empty lots, but that is because there are a bunch of seeds and seedlings trying to break through and grow.
Incentives: Besides the recreation and leisure time getting back to nature in the midst of your hectic university lifestyle, there are several other benefits. Often, you might go home with some fresh vegetables depending on the season. You can always take some herbs because of the volume and because they grow back so quickly. That in itself would save you a lot of money due to the high prices of herbs at the supermarket. Who does not love a great home cooked meal with fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden?
Getting involved: If you want to give volunteering here a try and see how you like it, there are regular meeting sessions each week. The faculty member in charge meets to garden on Monday mornings from 9-11 and on Wednesday afternoons from 2:30-4. You can always check the sign in the garden in case he changes the meeting times. If you want to contact the faculty member directly, his email is Hakim.AbdulRahim@canberra.edu.au, and I am sure he would be more than happy to talk with you. He is always welcoming new gardeners. Trust me, you do not need to have a background in gardening to find it fun and get some work done because he usually has a plan for what he wants to do each day.