Turramurra Lookout Community Garden
Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 17:46 :00 ): In an age of constantly changing technology, where new things are frequently thrust upon us, often the simple hidden things are the best. An example of what I am speaking about is a sloping plot of tranquillity beside the throbbing Pacific Highway at Turramurra in the electorate of Ku-ring-gai. Blink while you drive by and you may miss it. But if you take the time to stop and wander past the scarecrows into the Turramurra Lookout Community Garden you will immediately see why so many locals love it. These days not everyone has the luxury of space for their own garden. Many of our community members live in retirement homes. Even the traditionally leafy Ku-ring-gai is shouldering its share of housing density for Sydney, which means many of my constituents do not have room for a garden of their own. Others have the space in their homes, but they do not have the constant companionship that a communal garden like the one at Turramurra offers.
The Turramurra Lookout Community Garden is an oasis of flowers, herbs and edible vegetables but, unfortunately, the local fauna, including rodents, also think so. Indeed, the volunteers at the community garden have their hands full all year round keeping these intruders from eating whatever they feel like and damaging the garden. The idea for a community garden arose in 2009 and construction began in 2010 after the selection of a suitable site. Today the garden is a mixture of 24 individual plots, which members of the community can purchase at $50 a year and call their own. Members of the group range in age from young families to green thumb octogenarians. Lead by John Dailey, the garden is frequently busy. Activity is at its highest on Saturday mornings when many of the volunteers rub shoulders in one of the garden's working bees. They also swap stories over tea and biscuits during the breaks. In fact, the garden has more than 50 members—half of them have an individual plot and the rest are engaged in communal gardening.
I had the privilege of being present during one of these working bees and was impressed by what I saw. There was a great community spirit and I observed firsthand the calming effect of the garden. I have also seen firsthand the worth that garden has added to the life of a particular young man who has acute learning difficulties and autism. The pride that young man takes in helping to establish the garden and his own plot is heartwarming. His industriousness is a credit to him. I was more than happy to approach the New South Wales Government on behalf of the organisation when it asked for help in developing the garden further. Through the assistance of my parliamentary colleague the Hon. John Ajaka, Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, an $8,000 grant was made recently to the Turramurra Lookout Community Garden to further assist its work. Even people without a great knowledge of gardening know that composting and fertilising are key features of any thriving garden. John Dailey suggested to me that the area housing the compost bays, worm farms and various nutrient areas was not only awkward to access but actually unsafe. That was a trigger for my approach to the Minister and his generous offer of support.
In these days of big-ticket infrastructure projects like the NorthConnex tunnel in Ku-ring-gai and other projects all over the State, it is great to see that the less valuable community projects are not being forgotten by the Government—because, in their own way, they are major projects in people's lives. I commend John Daly for his vision. I especially congratulate the Baird Government and, in particular, Minister Ajaka for making this contribution possible. Eight thousand dollars can go a long way when it is directed to a group of volunteers such as the Turramurra garden group, the members of which give of their own time. With the $8,000 Government grant the garden group has decided to construct a timber deck and surrounding safety railings to frame the composting and nutrient-recycling facilities on a level platform. That will mean that gardeners do not have to risk working on dangerous sloping ground, given that Turramurra traditionally has the highest—if not near the highest—rainfall in Sydney.
One of the great features of the Turramurra Lookout Community Garden is its educational benefits for our schoolchildren. Many schools visit the garden and, in turn, many garden members visit our local schools to talk about gardening and ways to help students set up their own vegetable gardens. The garden has been so successful and popular that its president, John Daly, was chosen as Ku-ring-gai Citizen of the Year this year. I had the pleasure of being present at his receiving of the award on Australia Day. The community garden has featured in a number of publications including Indira Naidoo's book, The Edible City, in which she selected five community gardens around Australia to write about. I wish all those involved in the Turramurra Lookout Community Garden many more years of developing their own little piece of paradise—in fact, everyone's own little piece of paradise.