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Community Gardens are Essential

Thank you for supporting community gardens and associated forms of urban agriculture – the immense capacity of these communities to feed, support, care and provide safe and healthy spaces is unstoppable if we work together.

By becoming a signatory, you are showing your support for community gardens and associated organisations as ‘essential services’ during COVID-19 and beyond. Furthermore, you are committing to the value of urban agriculture and its capacity for long-term change as stated in the Urban Agriculture Manifesto.

Join us today by registering below and sharing to your networks with our media kit available here.  You can also add your name to our Urban and Regional Food Declaration here.

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To: The Hon David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management


The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon Daniel Andrews MP, Premier of Victoria
The Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, Premier of Queensland
The Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier of New South Wales
The Hon Steven Marshall MP, Premier of South Australia
The Hon Mark McGowan MP, Premier of West Australia
The Hon Peter Gutwein MP, Premier of Tasmania
The Hon Michael Gunner MLA, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
The Hon Andrew Barr MLA, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory

All federal and state health ministers and the PM

10 April 2020

Dear Minister

RE Request that Community Food Gardens be declared as essential services

Community Gardens Australia (CGA) and the undersigned supporters request that community gardens, including school gardens, community orchards and other forms of urban agriculture (both commercial and non-commercial), be declared an ‘essential service’.

Community gardens and associated forms of urban agriculture provide an essential service as well as a health and wellbeing lifeline to at least 261,000 Australians, and our economy, every week. Community gardens and urban food production provide our communities with:

  • a source of fresh, healthy, affordable, safe, and accessible food
  • a place to exercise and stay physically fit
  • a source of relaxation and stress relief, helping to alleviate and address the growing burden of anxiety and related forms of mental health conditions that are devastating the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians

Community gardens form an essential part of urban agriculture which can make an enormous contribution to addressing the multiple social and environmental crises that Australia is facing. These are detailed in the attached Manifesto, which we are calling on all Australian governments to endorse and implement as a matter of urgency.

We do not want to go backwards from the massive gains in health outcomes over the past 20 years from the rise in gardens around the country. If access is limited or cut off to these vital spaces we would see:

  • existing harvests of fresh food wasted
  • fresh food larder for spring 2020 not completed
  • an increase in mental health issues amongst many vulnerable groups
  • possible permanent loss of infrastructure
  • deterioration in physical health amongst our most vulnerable

Community gardens have already been very proactive with regards to implementing restrictions and safety protocols as per current government mandates. CGA has a network of State Representatives and partner organisations and an online directory of gardens across the country. We are currently putting together an information pack for members regarding COVID-19 and best practice to ensure public safety whilst still allowing people access to their local food supply and place of physical exercise during these difficult times.

CGA is proposing a highly targeted campaign to situate community gardens as a key factor in larger resilience and recovery efforts.

Coordinating the campaign with local, state, and national efforts requires capacity within the organisational networks and engaging with gardens requires facilitators. This could be an opportunity for home-based casual employment.

Accordingly, national and state funding is sought to develop and implement a community garden resilience and recovery campaign appropriate for each state and territory that would establish:

  • A line of communication to the organising groups for each community garden, enabling directed, specific advice to be efficiently distributed that will take into account the differing scale, structure and variety of gardens
  • A helpdesk service for these groups to clarify restrictions and deal with queries, thus relieving load from more critical information providers

Community Gardens Australia and our undersigned supporters recognise the immense risks that COVID-19 poses to the health of Australians. We take seriously our responsibility to identify, mitigate and minimise health risks and ensure public safety in these extreme times.

Community gardens can be operated safely and are essential to the community. It is vitally important that they remain recognised as an essential service during this time and continue to do so during any future restrictions as well as post-COVID-19. It would be immensely helpful for the community to have confirmation from the National Cabinet of the important role of community gardens in this crisis. We seek this assurance at the earliest possible opportunity.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss further. I look forward to hearing from you.

Naomi Lacey
Community Gardens Australia
[email protected]

Organisation Signatories


Food Fairness Illawarra

Cultivating Community


Young Farmers Connect


Community Gardens Australia

Creative Space

Focus Planting Australia Pty. Ltd.

Food Plants International

Healthy Cities Illawarra

Hidden Harvest

Indigenous Plants for Health Assn.


Mandurah Community Gardens

Permaculture Education Institute

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation


Sustainable Gardening Australia

The Hills Food Frontier Inc

urban rewild

Individual Signatories

Sonia Martinez

Founder, Fareloom

Pauline Mary Crosbie

Founder/ , Bumblebee Factory.

Neil Barrett

Farmer, Namoorook Produce

Fiona Buining

Founder, Ainslie Urban Farm

Russel Montgomery

Teacher, Carey Baptist College Forrestdale

La Vergne Lehmann

Matt Cole

Alison Dalziel

Director, Localise

Mark Duncan

Director of DMM Agronomy, Gower Support for Biological Services, DMM Agronomy, Biological Services

Sharon Gerardino

Associate, HHC

Gavin Hardy

Community food systems specialist, Community Gardens Australia

Amelia Harray

Director & Founder, PhD, AdvAPD, AN, Eat Sustainably

Jess Harrison

Packer, Melbourne Food Hub

Madeline Hogan

Food Specifications and Regulatory Officer, MSAC Solutions

Michael Hughes

Edible Ecology Facilitator, Let's Grow Shopping

Ninna Mar

Founder of Symbiotic , Symbiotic

Karen Newman

Meg Platte

Coordinator, Garfield Community Garden

Amanda Riordan

Managing Director, The Murrurundi Collective Pty Ltd

Trish Talob

Community Fed

Allan 'Big Al' Connolly

Founder/Managing Director, Kommuniti HQ

Fiona Anchal

Owner, Wholesome Bellies

Stella Anyaogu

Design Strategist

Gordon Bijen

Jennifer Boivin

President, Mandurah Community Gardens

Lisa Brassington

Collective Impact and Urban Agriculture Facilitator, Food Circles | Cardinia Shire Council

Deb Colville

Gardener, Deb Colville

Sarah Desmond

Social Worker

William Douglas mansell

Founder, Habitat Solutions

Joel Fitzgerald

Farm Manager, Heart Tree Care Farm

Amanda Fleming

Delia Forrest


Tanvier Fowler

Convener, PermacultureWest

Berbel Franse

Health Promotion Officer (Food Security & Sustainability) , Healthy Cities Illawarra / Food Fairness Illawarra

Julie Green

Student (Master of Social Work), University of Melbourne

Tracy Hardy

Founder, Accredited Nutritionist/Dietitian, Wattleseed Nutrition, Health and Wellbeing

Nick Harris

Jason Hilder


Michelle Hollingsworth


Sally Hughes

President, Corowa Community Garden

Daniel James Racovolis

Enactor, Urabba Parks Pty Ltd

William Leon Naufahu


Sydney MacLennan

Food systems professional

Jane Melvin

Environmental Consultant

Sue Noy

Research fellow and academic, Deakin University

Naomi Orsillo

Owner, Copper & Stone Cafe

Andrea Palmer

Tallangatta Community Share Garden

andrew pengelly

vice-president, co-founder, Indigenous Plants for Health Assn.

Carol Perdigão

Project Assistant and Oakhill Comms Coordinator, Sustain

Roslyn Pilbeam

Rob Rees

Nick Rose

Executive Director, Sustain

Lisa Savchuk

Artist, Creative Space

Ian Sinclair

Principal Consultant, Edge Land Planning

Jessica Skye Johnston-Doyle

Student, Victoria University

Savannah Supski

Co-founder/Treasurer, Just Food Collective

Judy Sykes

Kirra Watt

Reanna Willis

Master of Environment Student

John Winkels

Director, Pure Peninsula Honey

This initiative is led by Community Gardens Australia and Sustain: The Australian Food Network.