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.
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
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.
Community Gardens Australia
Food Fairness Illawarra
Community Gardens Australia
Young Farmers Connect
Healthy Cities Illawarra
Permaculture Education Institute
Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation
Sustainable Gardening Australia
The Hills Food Frontier Inc
Research fellow and academic, Deakin University
Executive Director, Sustain
La Vergne Lehmann
Master of Environment Student
Founder, Accredited Nutritionist/Dietitian, Wattleseed Nutrition, Health and Wellbeing
Packer, Melbourne Food Hub
Food Specifications and Regulatory Officer, MSAC Solutions
William Leon Naufahu
Food systems professional
Allan 'Big Al' Connolly
Founder/Managing Director, Kommuniti HQ
Collective Impact and Urban Agriculture Facilitator, Food Circles | Cardinia Shire Council
Health Promotion Officer (Food Security & Sustainability) , Healthy Cities Illawarra / Food Fairness Illawarra
Student (Master of Social Work), University of Melbourne
Owner, Copper & Stone Cafe
Artist, Creative Space
This initiative is led by Community Gardens Australia and Sustain: The Australian Food Network.