australia: clifton hill laneway community garden


Clifton Hill Laneway Community Garden is a small garden located in the bluestone lane behind Gordon St in Clifton Hill.

The garden was established almost 10 years ago during the drought years. A small group of locals banded together and decided to transform a space that was  at the time, a dumping ground.

Despite the Council signs warning against illegal dumping, there was quite an accumulation of rubbish on the site. We presumed the soil was therefore contaminated, so we built garden boxes and gathered soil from nearby, where gardens were being renovated.

At that time, we had no water supply, so gardeners carried water to the garden in bottles. As our gang of gardeners grew, we found ways of collecting water from the nearby railway work sheds and last year, we won a grant to install water tanks. With the support of Metro Rail, we now have six handy water tanks harvesting water from the roofs of their two sheds. 

Our little community of green thumbs now numbers more than 20 gardeners. Each gardener, or group of gardeners, is responsible for maintaining a compost bin, filling these with food scraps from two local cafes.

Our location makes it easy for local residents to deposit food scraps, so we have an untold number of locals who appear with buckets of yummy (for microbes) rubbish. We turn this all into wonderful rich soil, full of worms and nutrients for our urban harvest. We also have two Hungry Bins, jam packed with greedy worms that give us castings and worm juice.

We need to work quite rapidly to keep ahead of the compost contributors and  manage to produce around one bin of soil/compost each week. With 12 bins available, we cycle the compost through the system every three months or so. This is also a battle against methane production – we are trying to minimize the volume of food scraps that end up in landfill.

Now, with the help of ZEA Hungry Goods, we are able to increase our compost production considerably. We are trialing a new type of bin, which will be vermin proof. The bins hold 1000L and are big enough not to need turning. We are hoping that these bins will become commonplace throughout the neighbourhood, so that everyone will get used to idea of turning their food scraps into soil. We will also invite local gardeners to help themselves to the newly made compost.

ZEA Hungry Goods will help us build two of these bins, one for filling and the other for resting. Every three months we will empty this matured compost. At this rate, we will be able to transform an extra 80L of food scraps every week – well on the way to becoming a compost factory!

ZEA PROJECT IMPACT:  4,000 kilograms of food waste transformed into fertile soil every year.