The Garden, as members often affectionately call it, has grown out of the dreams of a handful of caring community members.
In February 2004, the concept of a community garden in the area was raised by Anglicare as a response to the high level of social isolation and resulting suicides in the shire. Our community was in need of a place for people experiencing loneliness and despair to come for a friendly chat over a comforting cuppa.
Anglicare approached Wingecarribee Shire Council, who agreed to provide land for a peppercorn rent for the fledgling Wingecarribee Community Garden. The small group known as Together in the Highlands formed, planting fruit and vegetables to share and encouraging others to join in the gardening experience. Anglicare provided support in many ways and, with a grant from The Area Assistance Scheme, fencing, a greenhouse and a zincalume shed were erected.
In 2008 The Garden became known as Moss Vale Community Garden (MVCG) with the hope that it would provide a stimulus for a community garden in every Highlands town. It grew not only in size but also in members/volunteers.
With the continued support of Anglicare, another grant was achieved, this time from the NSW Environmental Education Trust. This grant programme started in 2009 and ran for approximately 2 1⁄2 years. It was quite extensive and provided the opportunity for the community to get their hands dirty, creating environmental structures such as a straw bale shelter and a pizza oven. Many workshops were run, ranging from Square Foot Gardening to Cheese making.
MVCG has become an education centre for the shire, promoting the importance of caring for the environment, recycling and reducing waste and, with a permaculture influence, demonstrating how to grow and enjoy food together at the garden and at home.
Despite the intensity of the grant programme, over the past three years dedicated members have won many ribbons at Moss Vale Agricultural Show for a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, including heirlooms.
Over the years The Garden has welcomed many groups and individuals and encouraged them to share their knowledge and experience. Mentoring Towards Manhood is a mentoring programme for teenage boys working with mature male role models from the community. The Garden has also catered for the needs of disability services groups providing horticultural therapy and friendship.
The Garden has now entered a new phase as an independent, not-for-profit organisation – Moss Vale Community Garden Incorporated. We look forward to all that this new phase will bring and will continue to welcome people of all ages and abilities to come and contribute to this wonderful community space.