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2022 President’s report

Naomi Lacey

2022 has been an unusual year for most of us. With the worst of the pandemic behind us, we appeared to be heading towards normal but now massive floods, inflation and the rising cost of living are rapidly changing what normal looks like once again. Where covid had kept many away from their community gardens, they have now been able to return to tend their space and share the joy that their gardening brings them which is wonderful yet, for some of our members, there has been further crisis with floods washing away all their hard-earned efforts. One crisis over and the next is on us. It’s becoming all too real that we are in the grips of a climate emergency that our governments are in no way prepared for.

Now more than ever that it is vital that we intensify our efforts, build a greater sense of community amongst ourselves and learn how to be more locally resilient because no matter what our governments around the world seem to think, us community gardeners know that at the end of the day you can’t eat money! One of the benefits of my Churchill Fellowship travels has been the opportunity to network with similar organisations facing the same challenges. In future, we will be able to support each other, share best practice and resources that will help us all negotiate the uncertain times ahead.

2022 has seen a rise in demand for our organisation’s services from gardens seeking advocacy regarding issues or support with establishing something new gardens -to local governments seeking advice and input with policy making. There has also been the rising number of members and directory listings needing more attention from our dedicated volunteer team. I want to take this opportunity to thank the entire team at Community Gardens Australia (CGA) for all the wonderful work they do in our communities and in supporting the wider Australian network of community gardeners. You are all invaluable and make CGA the organization that we are. Well done!

Moving forward, CGA will be focusing much of its efforts on sourcing appropriate funding so we can employ staff to assist us with the increasing workload and to help us further our mission of providing you all with networking opportunities, resources, education, advice and advocacy services. Any support you or your garden could provide to us will be gratefully accepted as would any leads towards supportive sponsor or donor opportunities. As always, your membership provides us with the support that we really appreciate so thank you. We will also be putting a lot of energy into establishing relationships with government ministers and senior government officials to gain the recognition and support that is needed for the urban agriculture sector. We will keep you posted on our efforts.

I write this at the tail end of what has to be the most incredible 14 weeks of my life – travelling on a Churchill Fellowship to study community garden networks around the world. It is by far the greatest experience I have had and one for which I am extremely grateful.

To spend so much time with so many like-minded individuals and organisations around the world has been truly inspiring. I now bring this inspiration and energy back home with the intention of gaining greater support and recognition for community gardening activities here in Australia so that community gardens can continue to grow, thrive and bring greater connectedness and resilience to our communities. Thank you to the Winston Churchill Trust of Australia for providing me with this wonderful opportunity.

I would also like to acknowledge my own community garden, Harvest Corner in Darwin, who donated a generous amount to support our work this year. Thanks guys! Your funds have helped us to put on our first National Gathering in five years so if you can’t come to the event in person we hope you can at least join us online. It is support like this that helps our national network to develop and grow.

For now, I wish you all great abundance and much gardening happiness this spring and summer season. Continue to bathe in the connection to the earth, to your food and to your fellow humans that community gardening brings and take joy in knowing that you are part of a worldwide movement of like-minded folks!

Naomi Lacey