Community garden gets the grow-ahead

A COMMUNITY Garden will come to fruition on Central Road, but council’s decision has disappoined residents of a nearby retirement village.

The Port Macquarie Gardens Group said council’s decision to give the project the green light would plant a seed of positive change within the community.

But a number of Parklands Village residents remained unconvinced.

Parklands Village manager Jeff McHugh relayed residents’ concerns to council.

He said residents, at a very vulnerable stage of their lives, needed security, safety and peace of mind.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council mayor Peter Besseling said funds were available and not to be wasted.

“I think there is an opportunity there for the Parkland Village residents that they’re not seeing at the moment.”

Jai Cooper from Port Macquarie Gardens Group spoke passionately about the future benefits of a Community Garden on Central Road.

He said the garden would reduce instead of encourage crime, and increase not devalue surrounding property. 

“I know the benefits of community gardens on public land and I’ve seen the transformations of communities and individuals made by them around the world,” he told the council.

“This location sits at the heart of a need, further away from the beaches these suburbs have less opportunity for casual, positive, community interaction. And it’s practical - it is not so far west that it inaccessible.”

Mr Cooper said apart from the close proximity of many support services - accessibility, a nearby university and retirement village, were all positives of the Central Road location.

The results of an extensive community engagement process were used in council’s decision to approve the location of the garden, at last week’s council meeting.

In a survey of more than 200 people 71 per cent of people supported the Central Road location.

The draft concept design includes purpose-built garden beds, a storage shed, shelter, barbecue, car park, access pathway, water tanks and plants. 

The plan to establish Port Macquarie’s first community garden grew from a $131,000 grant from the NSW Community Builders Program.

More information on the Port Macquarie Gardens Group and how you can get involved will be available in early March.

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