Crib Point is a small town on Western Port Bay on the Mornington Peninsula. It is mainly known for its naval base, HMAS Cerberus, but since 2006 it can also claim a thriving community garden. In that year a small group of local people was granted permission by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to establish a garden on part of the old school playground adjacent to the Crib Point Community House which was the original primary school for the town.
The ground was well compacted by generations of small feet, and later by car tyres. It presented quite a challenge to convert the site to friable garden soil. This has been achieved however, and a veritable edible food forest is the result.
The garden is thoroughly committed to sustainable and organic principles. No harmful sprays or fertilisers are used and all timber for fences and other structures is locally milled cypress or pine. No treated pine is allowed.
As the drought was in full fling when the garden started, an application was made for a Commonwealth Water Grant. This was successful and two 45,000 litre water tanks were installed and connected to the large roof of the Community House.
Most of the garden is run on a communal basis with workers sharing in the produce picked each working day. Regular working members have very little need to visit the greengrocer! There are also individual plots available for a small fee. Surplus produce is sold through the Community House or given to a local emergency food agency.
Many trees are now well established and coming into production. These include mulberry, fig, quince, persimmon, loquat, avocados and five citrus trees as well as the more common fruit trees. Experimentation is always going on with new and unusual plants being trialled. The latest challenge planned is to successfully grow bananas this far south!
Thanks to a generous grant from Landcare Australia and Be Natural in 2012, the orchard of ten mature fruit trees was surrounded by a feral-proof fence. A comfortable henhouse was built and 12 beautiful Isa Brown hens were installed. Eggs are sold to members at a modest price to cover the cost of feed.
As the need for providing healthy food for a growing population accelerates, gardens like ‘The Crib’ will become even more important to our future. The challenge is to get more people thinking the same way and getting their hands dirty!