Community Gardens Policy

Approval date: 2017

Background

Community gardening provides many social, environmental and economic benefits for local people.

The Latrobe City Council encourages community gardening as a sustainable living option and as a way for people to get involved with their local community.

Community gardens contribute to public health and wellbeing, learning, amenity of the municipality social connections and can improve local food security.

The Latrobe City has a community development approach to community gardens, to build effective partnerships between garden groups and organisations in their local community to facilitate community ownership and support long-term success of a garden.

The existing gardens require minimal levels of support and involvement from Latrobe City Council. Community gardens are generally organised and overseen by local residents. This might be a garden committee or a group of people living near a garden.

This policy responds to strategy 12 of Latrobe City’s Council Plan 2017-2021:
“Provide community infrastructure that supports recreation and connectedness including sporting facilities, pathways and community gardens.”

Objectives

The Community Garden Policy outlines Latrobe City’s role in supporting community gardens. This includes its aims for the gardens, its principles for their operation and how it assesses proposals for new community gardens on Council owned or managed land.

Scope

This policy applies to all community gardens that operate in Latrobe City and the entities that auspice them.

Principles of management

Community gardens are generally not-for-profit, local spaces that operate on designated land for residents and volunteers to grow fresh food, participate in sustainable food practices, improve food literacy, learn horticultural skills, share and exchange produce and build community connections through shared activities.

A range of community garden management models currently operate successfully across the municipality. Some garden committees are incorporated while others manage their garden informally with support from volunteers and other entities such as Neighbourhood Houses or local schools. The diversity of each model is valued and encouraged by Latrobe City Council.

Regardless of the structure of the garden and management arrangements, Latrobe City Council encourages community garden groups to interact and engage with residents and volunteers from diverse backgrounds and knowledge bases, and to seek partnerships with local organisations and others who may be able to compliment or enhance the garden. These can include informal networks, child care centres and schools, cafes, businesses and larger enterprises.

Partnerships based on in-kind and financial or pro-bono support may improve the longevity and sustainability of a garden. Latrobe City Council encourages partnerships at all levels and across all management types to support the development of sustainable community gardens.

For sites owned or managed by Council, groups are required to submit a proposal to Council for its consideration. Council officers will assist groups with the preparation of their proposal which must contain the following information, at a minimum:

  • The purpose of the garden and how it will benefit the local community.
  • Confirmation that the group is an incorporated, not-for-profit organisation.
  • The number of members of the group.
  • Proposed location of the garden.
  • If relevant, details of investigation into sites not on City Land or land already endorsed by Council as potentially suitable.
  • An indication of the layout and dimensions of the proposed site including any proposed structures (including fencing).
  • How the group proposes to access water and power.
  • Management of water usage, waste and storage of equipment and materials.
  • Proposed management structure.
  • Strategies intended to minimise problems such as odour, vandalism, noise, site aesthetics and vermin.
  • Impact on nearby residents and organisations in close proximity.
  • How the group intends to fund the establishment and upkeep.
  • Whether the group intends to hold events and likely participant numbers.

Depending upon the nature of the proposal, applications that are considered to be operational (e.g. within a preschool) will be assessed by Council Officers and more complex applications will be presented to Council for its consideration.

Officers will be required to advise Council if the proposed site of the gardens is subject to masterplan or land use conflicts and ensure that any lease arrangements entered into for the site has clauses that prohibit the abandonment of the site without restoring the area to its previous condition. The lease must also ensure that no commercial activities other than the sale of excess produce and goods to support the operations of the garden are to occur on the site. Officers must organise a site inspection to ensure there are no soil contamination issues given the nature of the activities being proposed.

Accountability and responsibility

Accountability and responsibility for this policy is outlined below.

Council

  • Responsibility to ensure this Policy is consistent with Latrobe City Council Strategic Direction and other Latrobe City Council Policy
  • Responsibility for the decision to approve this Policy by Council Resolution

Chief executive officer

  • Overall responsibility for compliance with this policy
  • Overall responsibility for enforcing accountability
  • Overall responsibility for providing resources
  • Overall responsibility for performance monitoring

General manager

  • Responsibility for compliance with this policy
  • Responsibility for enforcing accountability
  • Responsibility for providing resources
  • Responsibility for performance monitoring

Manager

  • Develop frameworks and procedures in compliance with this policy
  • Enforce responsibilities to achieve compliance with frameworks and procedures
  • Provide appropriate resources for the execution of the frameworks and procedures

Employees, contractors and volunteers

  • Participate where required in the development of frameworks and procedures in compliance with this policy.
  • Comply with frameworks and procedures developed to achieve compliance with this policy.

Evaluation and review

This policy will be reviewed on request of Council, in the event of significant change in the Executive team, significant changes to legislation applicable to the subject matter of the policy or, in any other case, during each Council term (generally four years).

Definitions

Community Garden
A community garden is any piece of land gardened by a group of people, utilising either individual or shared plots on private or public land. The land may produce fruit, vegetables, and/or ornamentals. Edible landscapes (e.g. fruit trees in public places) also fall under the definition of community gardens for the intent of this policy.

Related documents

  • Latrobe Planning Scheme
  • Latrobe Risk Management Policy