Community gardens

GardeningCommunity gardens provide access to plants and fresh produce, as well as bringing together enthusiastic community gardeners.

In the inner city, many residents have little or no access to private open space.

There are terrific social and physical benefits in being able to access safe public spaces to grow food and share fresh produce.

At present, there is a long waiting list for plots in existing community gardens in Yarra. 

In June 2011, Council adopted guidelines to help identify and manage new opportunities for different kinds of urban agriculture activities. These guidelines are believed to be the first of their kind initiated by a local government in Australia.   

Shortcuts to information on this page

The Urban Agriculture Guidelines

Urban Agriculture - how the process works
Securing a suitable and safe site
Securing neighbourhood support
Agreement with Council

Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee
Community consultation

Local food initiatives

The Urban Agriculture Guidelines

Here are the guidelines. More information about the process that is to be followed is provided below.

pdf format Yarra Urban Agriculture Resource Booklet (4.48 MB)

pdf format Urban Agriculture - Community Gardens Guidelines (22.56kB)
pdf format Urban Agriculture - Community Garden Application Form (56.08kB) 
pdf format Planter Box - Placement Sketches (2.52MB)
pdf format Updated Neighbourhood Gardening Agreement (802.27 KB)

Urban Agriculture – how the process works

To encourage a collaborative approach, Council has employed an urban agriculture facilitator to be responsible for liaising with residents and groups wishing to establish urban agiculture projects.

The role of the facilitator is to provide community gardeners with practical advice and assistance on matters such as what is an appropriate location for a garden, ways to consult with neighbours and choosing the right tree specimens and planting materials.

The steps listed below need to be considered by people or groups planning Urban Agriculture initiatives in Yarra. More detail is provided in the Urban Agriculture Guidelines PDF documents near the top of this page.

Securing a Suitable and Safe Site

Community gardeners are encouraged to meet with the facilitator on the site of potential community garden to ascertain any site constraints and identify whether approvals from Council or other relevant government agencies are required.

This stage of the process should indicate whether a site is suitable for the purposes of an Urban Agriculture initiative.

Securing Neighbourhood Support

If a site is deemed suitable for Urban Agriculture, community gardeners will be asked to consult with their neighbours and those who they feel may be affected by the proposed garden by door-knocking, distributing letters to local residents and/or organising a public meeting.

It should be noted that the suggested methods for consultation contained in the guidelines differ depending on the nature of the application.

For example, those wanting to establish a community garden are encouraged to speak with residents living within 100 metres of the proposed site.

In the case of establishing planter boxes on a road reserve or other types of neighbourhood gardening, the guidelines suggest proponents should consult with surrounding neighbours within 25 metres of the proposed planting site.

Agreement with Council

An important step involves submitting a written proposal to Council.

Again, the process for this differs depending on whether a community garden or other type of neighbourhood garden is proposed.

For example, a proposal for productive trees, planter boxes or nature strip garden is required to outline:

  • the proposed location and site plan for the garden
  • details of the community consultation process
  • the outcomes of the consultation process, including details of opposition
  • the name and contact details of the person who would be the primary contact for the garden.

If Council accepts the proposal it enters into a written agreement with the garden’s primary contact.

That agreement, referred to as the Neighbourhood Gardening Agreement, documents:

  • details of the style of project as discussed with residents during the consultation
  • specific conditions relating to Council’s provision of public liability insurance cover, site safety requirements and rules governing the maintenance and care of the garden
  • an understanding that proposed changes to the garden or primary contact must be communicated to Council.

A proposal for a community garden is required to outline:

  • the proposed location and site plan for the garden (including the layout of plots, communal areas and location of any proposed structures for fences
  • the community consultation process used to engage neighbouring residents and property owners in the planning initiative
  • the outcomes of the community consultation process, including the nature of any significant opposition expressed by neighbouring residents/owners
  • the name and contact details of the person/s nominated as the primary contact in relations to the planning of the garden.

If Council approves the community garden, Council enters into an Agreement with the responsible parties.

The Agreement would:

  • acknowledge and support the objectives of the garden
  • specify the permitted purpose(s) of the garden
  • ensure that participation in the garden is open to all
  • confer ownership of specified garden infrastructure to Council
  • specify the responsibilities of both the Council and the community group for undertaking and funding the establishment costs, management, maintenance and on-going running costs
  • specify responsibilities for public liability insurance
  • specify any priorities for the allocation of plots
  • detail the obligations of the community group in relation to maintaining the garden in a clean and weed-free state, employing organic gardening principles and restricting the use of pest control products
  • allow for periodic reviews of the community group responsible for managing the garden and specify requirements for reporting to Council on membership and financial performance.

Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee

In mid-2011, Council established the Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee (UAAC). The aim of the committee is to provide Council with information about proposed urban agriculture initiatives and to generally support and encourage community gardening networks in Yarra. Here is more information about the Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee.


In late 2009/early 2010, Council proposed to establish community gardens in Hardy Gallagher Reserve (Princes Hill) and George Street Park (Fitzroy). These proposals were in response to calls from some residents for new community gardens.

During the subsequent public consultation on these proposals, Council received more than 450 submissions. The consultation aroused passionate interest from the community both for and against the proposals.Some submissions raised concerns about a loss of public open space, and the impact on surrounding residential amenity.

At its April 2010 meeting, Council decided not to establish a new community garden in Hardy Gallagher Reserve, Princes Hill, or at the George Street Park, Fitzroy. More information about Council's decision is available in this 22 April 2010 Media Release.

Community Gardens Advisory Committee (2009/2010)

In late 2009, Council set up the Community Gardens Advisory Committee to develop guidelines for establishing community gardens due to public interest in the issue.

The Community Gardens Advisory Committee (CGAC) included residents with an interest in community gardening, Council officers and Councillors Sam Gaylard and Stephen Jolly.

The role of the CGAC was to create a set of guidelines that Yarra residents could refer to when developing and managing urban agriculture. The CGAC met several times in 2010 for the purpose of drawing up the guidelines. In December 2010, the draft guidelines were presented to a Council meeting and Council resolved to seek community feedback on them. The community consultation was held during February and March 2011.

Community Consultation

Due to the potentially divisive nature of locating and planning for community gardens on public land, Council recognised a need for a set of guidelines to manage such projects that had been created with community input.

During several meetings in 2010, the CGAC developed draft guidelines for managing demand for community gardens, planter boxes and traffic bed gardens in Yarra.

The committee's draft guidelines were adopted by Council at its 21 December 2010 meeting. In February and March 2011, Council sought public feedback on the draft guidelines. Several changes were made to the draft guidelines in response to community feedback. The final version of the guidelines was adopted by Council on 28 June 2011.

Local food initiatives

There are a number of ways you can get involved in improving the health of the environment in your local community.

Yarra has a number of community gardens where people who may not have a garden of their own can grow fruit and vegetables and share their gardening skills with others in the community.
Most are located on Department of Human Services land and managed by the local non profit group Cultivating Community.

The North Fitzroy Community gardenCollingwood Children’s Farm and Mater Street community garden have open membership.

Click here to visit the local food initiatives page where you will find plenty of great tips and links to people and groups who support sustainable food production and consumption.

Kathi Clark-Orsanic
Urban Agriculture Facilitator
9205 5782

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