Solander reborn and renewed

Russ Grayson reports...

IT WAS A WARM, late Spring morning in early November when people gathered around Russian food and a table of other edible goodies to celebrate the reopening of Solander Community Garden. Solander is one of three community gardens on Sydney's Waterloo Estate.

Solander was the second of the Estate's community gardens to be constructed. Cook, directly across Raglan Street, was completed first and Marton, down the road, was finished some time after after Solander. The gardens form a trio of edible oases amid the 1960s high rise towers and all are gardened by the multicultural residents of the tower blocks.

A single, large raised bed divided into allotments used to occupy the centre of Solander Community Garden, however it had started to degrade to such an extent that Housing NSW, which administers the social housing estate, decided to have it reconstructed. Now, parallel rows of raised, textured, sandstone coloured brick beds demonstrate the practicality of simple design and all are home to flourishing gardens of mainly edible plants.

As well as a convivial bevy of female Russian gardeners, the reopening event was attended by Housing NSW, people from the UNSW's School of Social work who are stationed on the

Estate, Mabel — a long-time gardener from Cook Community Garden across the road, and Helen Bradley and myself from the City of Sydney, which provides some  support to the community gardens. Support also comes through the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust's Community Greening program that assists community gardening on social housing land.

It was a fine way to spend a fine Spring morning, eating Russian food and being shown over the community garden by proud gardeners.

Attendees at the reopening of Solander Community Garden pose for a pic.

Attendees at the reopening of Solander Community Garden pose for a pic.

The new raised beds are already filled with vegetables and herbs.

The new raised beds are already filled with vegetables and herbs.

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