“We didn’t just build a garden, we built a community”

Kids' Vegies on the VergeAccording to Alexa (9), “We didn’t just build a garden, we built a community”. She is so right. The Kid’s Vegies on the Verge is still going strong and is leading to all sorts of spin offs.

Kids' Vegies on the VergeOn the last day of school for Term 3, over 30 people came for a chicken burger night at the garden. The kids (with help from parents) planned who would supply what and helped prepare the food. The burgers were $4; $2 for kids from garden, or $0 (as the sign said) for kids from the garden who also supplied some of the food.

Kids' Vegies on the VergeThey collected the money and served up the food (bread rolls, free range chicken breasts, onion, lettuce, rocket, tomato, carrot, cucumber, cheese, parsley, chives and various sauces; zucchini cake and water) but seemed to disappear for much of the clean-up.

The Pop PlantsThe Pop Plant’s gave their debut public performance with (I suspect) the first ever version of “From little things big things grow” for flute, clarinet, guitar, two ukuleles, two djembes and chorus.

Community Garage SaleThe following week we had a street garage sale (suggested by another mum) with seven households de-cluttering their lives a bit. The kids from the garden sold homemade lemonade (they helped make the day before) and jam drops provided by another parent to bring in some cash for the garden. To be honest, none of us sold all that much (we probably didn’t advertise it all that well) but it was a great social event and they made $99.30 on the lemonade stall!

Kids' Vegies on the Verge camp outAround the camp fire

Last night eight of the girls slept in a tent set up in the backyard of one of our neighbours. Before they went to bed some of the parents joined them for chicken burgers, roasted marshmallows, and a chat around a fire in the back yard. A couple of them were playing handball in our drive at 5:30 this morning!

Dress upsWe continue to see lots of kids and they are playing heaps more with each other. It is mainly the girls aged 6 – 12 who seem to be making significant friendships. There is chasey in the garden (on the stepping stones), lots of handball, dress-ups and plenty of coming and going.

Just sittingApart from watering, the kids aren’t doing much work in the garden, and without Cathy it would be really suffering. At the same time, it is quite common to see someone just hanging out in the garden (particularly the tee-pee for the beans). The other day our girls out and when we left to pick them up, there were four kids playing in the garden.

??????????The garden itself is going OK. Unfortunately the organic soil we bought for the raised garden bed wasn’t as good as we had been led to believe so Cathy has been trying to improve it by adding compost and manures.

Handball in the driveThese school holidays have been quite different for Jasmine and Alexa. Although we haven’t been away, they’ve had a great time playing with other kids in the street. In terms of community building the Kids’ Vegies on the Verge is easily exceeding our expectations.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

  1. A kids vegie garden on the verge
  2. Kids’ Vegies on the Verge: strengthening a sense of community
  3. Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA
  4. What is asset-based community-driven development (ABCD)
  5. Parenting for a better world
  6. It takes a child to raise a village!

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Working with communities and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “We didn’t just build a garden, we built a community”

  1. elleran says:

    Hi there Graeme, Just love your work! Hope this request finds you well. I have been asked to share our successful community program of outdoor play for young children in Australia, with people from overseas. Just wondering with your great contacts and skills, do you know of any conference /travel support from any avenue for full time students? Please see attached. I really would like to go to this international conference and share what l know works, with others from around the world. If you have 5 minutes to help me circulate this request to potential supporters, please let me know Thanks so much, Narelle Debenham.

    > >


  2. Thanks Liz, it is great.
    The other day one of our neighbours gave us some fish he caught. These types of little (but important) things are happening so much more.


  3. Liz Storr says:

    I’m really enjoying following your blog Graeme. Good on you for the work you are doing in your own back (front) yard! The demise of local community connections and neighbourly relations on a really grass roots level is so often the root cause of dysfunction and antisocial behaviour in our communities. So starting to build those connections at a street level is really important. Keep going.


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