The Community Farm on Gateway Island, championed by the Bhutanese and now Congolese communities, and supported by Parklands since 2013, provides a model for community led and community run gardens.
Led by members of the Bhutanese community, who approached Parklands with the concept in 2013, the farm was formally established as a social enterprise in 2015 by the Bhutanese Association in Albury. This was achieved through many local partnerships including support from the National Environment Centre, Riverina TAFE and E-Works Employment Solutions. As the auspicing body, Parklands Albury Wodonga championed the fledgling social enterprise, hosted Community Farm Rangers and provided administrative support.
Since then, the Gateway Island Community Farm has explored and embraced new operating models and now hosts more than 100 family plots and shared community gardens. Support by local businesses and organisations has been enthusiastic. Many friendships, sponsorships and connections have been made. The farm thrives.
The farm has become so much more than a collection of vegetable gardens. It provides volunteer and employment opportunities for new community members who have arrived as refugees, a teaching and learning exchange for young and old, a place for community participation, social and cultural exchange, the means for healthy food production, opportunities for innovation and collaboration. It is now a significant local institution and great source of pride for all who have participated and supported along the way; a success story that many can rightly feel they own some part of.
With border closures over the past year, just how many Albury residents engage with the farm on Gateway Island is now evident, with some travelling with difficulty from outer Albury suburbs, or unable to access their plots for extended periods. These are amongst the many people who would benefit from access to community gardens in Albury.
As the Community Farm at Gateway Island has reached capacity, Parklands has been supporting our multicultural communities over the past year in the search for land in Albury to cater for this growing demand for community garden plots.
Over a dozen public open spaces and freehold land have been considered, but not progressed due to planning and other issues. It is with much disappointment that the Board of Parklands Albury Wodonga has decided to withdraw the latest Development Application for a potential multicultural community garden site in East Albury.
Whilst Parklands and partners have exhausted all options, we welcome Albury based champions to take up the cause for our community. We are very happy to share our learning and provide assistance where we can for this important project.