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Glovers, Sydney’s heritage garden — a photo essay

Glovers, Sydney’s heritage garden — a photo essay

Photos and story by Russ Grayson 2009.

GLOVERS COMMUNITY GARDEN is a heritage garden, a historic site that marks the dawn of community gardening in NSW. It also marks a successful and long-lived example of community initiative and enterprise.

The first community garden in NSW, from its founding in 1985 Glovers has attracted a changing population of gardeners and continues to do so. Like other gardens, Glovers has gone through ups and downs in participation, however the garden continues in existence because it has evolved with gardener needs.

This photo essay celebrates the continuing, edible presence that is Glovers Community Garden…

A welcoming sign

Announcing the presence of Glovers Community Garden is a big, bright sign made as a mosaic. Welcoming signage establishes community gardens in their locale and welcome visitors to see what goes on there. Signs such as this mosaic production can be made as a workshop exercise by the gardeners.

There’s nothing like a big, bold sign to make a community garden a welcoming place, and Glovers does just that.

Standing in the garden are Glover’s spokeswoman, Jane Mowbray, and a visitor from Newtown Community Garden.

Then and now

Glovers Community Garden in the 1990s.

The photos above and below show changes in the garden. They were made looking in the same direction over Glovers Community Garden. The above was made sometime in the 1990s. The below was made in August 2009.

The building above still exists, only now it is hidden from this viewpoint by trees. The garden beds have been remade and are now edged with roofing tile seconds. New fruit trees have grown. There are now a small number of allotments whereas the garden pictured in the 1990s was a shared community garden only.

The view over Glovers garden shows the pumpkin and other vegetables, the banana and other fruits that make up this diversified community garden. The structure visible in the middle distance is a shade house, the nursery area where new plants are propagated.
A gardener from the early days of the community garden displays a harvest of sweet potato.

Urban animals

The keeping of chooks in community gardens calls for organisation and reliable people. As in other community gardens, Glovers’ chickens are cared for by a chook team that attends to the birds daily to feed them, provide them with fresh water and check on their health and wellbeing, taking eggs in return. The photo shows the schedule for the team.
Margaret Andresen was a key figure in the early days of Glovers Community Garden, as was David Taylor who later moved to a smallholding in inland southern NSW.

Bees and chickens make up the small, productive urban animals kept by the gardeners.

The bees are cared for by someone with the necessary expertise and their honey has been sold as a fundraiser.

Chickens have long been a presence in Glovers Community Garden.

The planting of fruit trees within the chook yard makes use of the design principle of multifunction — of deriving additional uses for something in addition to its primary use.

The chook house is conveniently large, sufficient to accommodate the number of chickens that are kept by the gardeners and also of a size that makes cleaning and maintenance easy.

Glover’s community gardeners have installed a fixed chook house within the enclosed chook scratch yard in which young fruit trees have been planted.

The 200 litre fuel drums seen on the left of the chook house are connected in series by a pipe so that stored rainwater, harvested from the roof of the chook house, flows to a tap from which the gardeners can fill watering cans to irrigate garden beds or otherwise make use of the water.

Gardeners say that they have become something of a dumping ground for unwanted roosters — a number have been tossed over the fence into the chook yard.

Productive tree fruits, too

Glovers gardeners have established a number of citrus and other fruit trees to supplement the herbs and vegetables, eggs, and honey that their garden yields.

Oranges almost ready to eat. Glovers gardeners have established a number of citrus and other fruit trees to supplement the herbs and vegetables, eggs and honey that their garden yields.

Sturdy garden edges and productive beds

Annual and perennial vegetables are the vegetative backbone of any community garden. They are what provides gardeners with a continuing supply of fresh, nutritious food that changes with the seasons.

It is the cultivation of vegetables by which gardeners learn of the seasonality of our food supply and the primary role of fertile soils and rainfall in making that available. Some gardeners describe this learing as ‘getting back in touch with nature’.

The climate, the weather, the soils, propagating the plants from seed to seed through new cycles of life, watering and caring for them and, all the time, acquiring the knowledge that comes through the understanding of others and from practice and observation — this is how nature is experienced and combined with human understanding in community gardens in our cities.

As in other Sydney Inner West and Eastern Suburbs community gardens, roofing tile seconds have been obtained from manufacturers for use as durable, weed-resistant garden edges in Glovers Community Garden. The diversity of herb and vegetable crops in the beds are visible in this picture.
As in other Sydney Inner West and Eastern Suburbs community gardens, in Glovers Community Garden roofing tile seconds have been obtained from manufacturers for use as durable, weed-resistant garden edges. The diversity of herb and vegetable crops in the beds are visible in this picture.
Glovers Community Garden occupies land that is flat in its lower reaches, then slopes uphill. A solution to gardening sloping land while maintaining soil stability, seen in use here, is terracing. Supported by roofing tile seconds, terracing creates long, flat garden beds on sloping land.

A tradition of education

Glovers Community Garden continues the educational role it established in the 1990s. It has been used by TAFE courses, permaculture design courses, and by the national community gardens network for instructional site visits. Here, Glovers’ spokeswoman, Jane Mowbray, discusses how the garden is designed and managed with a City of Sydney community gardens tour.

Comments (6)

  • media
    01/01/2010 at 7:55 am Reply

    Glovers Garden is in a transition period at the moment in the handover from the State Goverment to Leichhardt Council,and the latter have requested me as president of the garden to compile a history of the garden since its inception.
    I am now appealing to any former members for their assistance in this endeavor and would be grateful for any information you can forward to me.
    Regards Greg Heffernan

  • Jason McRoy
    21/02/2010 at 5:29 pm Reply

    Looks like a really thriving garden project!
    I’m from Denver, Colorado in the states and we’re looking to incorporate chickens into our community garden this year. Has that been successful for you in the past? It looks like you have an organized schedule for taking care of the birds. Any issues with this in the past? What about security and safety of the animals?
    We’re in a pretty urban area and are initially concerned someone might mess with them if they’re unattended on a vacant lot at night.
    Hopefully your garden goes well this season, from your post above it looks like you might have some red-tape jumping to do. That’s the worst!

  • Jane Mowbray
    24/02/2010 at 7:02 am Reply

    Keeping Happy Chickens
    Most of the members of Glover’s Garden communicate with each other through a group email site which is useful for requesting help with the chook roster.
    Touch wood, we have had no problem with foxes and that may due to our locking them in their house each night. We have had problems with wild birds eating lots of the grain in the chook shed and have now netted the whole run. This seems very successful apart from the small number of birds that find their way under the net.
    The garden is surrounded with a chain link fence and the gates are locked when people aren’t gardening so the chooks are protected from dogs etc. We have 9 hens and one rooster who is very protective, always standing between the hens and any people or dogs.
    Having a duty roster has been great as even if someone forgets, there should be enough water and food til the next person shows up.
    Good luck with your chickens Jason.

  • Heda
    15/06/2011 at 11:24 am Reply

    I used to be a member of Glover Street Community Garden some years ago. I’m moving offices at the moment and have just come across a CD containing digital images of diary entries from Glover Street Garden as well as some images. I’m assuming this is just a duplicate CD and you already have the original but I thought I’d check before disposing of it. If you could send your reply to my email address that would be good.

  • Jane Mowbray
    27/07/2011 at 12:26 pm Reply

    Hi Heda,
    We would love the Glover’s CD. We have papers and photos from the past but no CD diaries! Your address was not published but you can call me on 0438860954.
    Cheers, Jane

  • Lesley Gillett
    08/07/2012 at 1:48 pm Reply

    Hi there,
    So happy to see that Glovers Garden is still a living local treasure! My husband and I worked on its beginnings with David and Yvonne Taylor and others back in 1985-89. I have a few photos from the very early days e.g. building the original no dig beds + mucking out the Canterbury stables for old horse manure 🙂 Can scan and send if you are interested.
    Best wishes,
    Lesley GIllett

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