2021 Roundup™

It was a strange year, as prolonged periods of lock-down and no public events to serve as mementos, messed with our collective perception of the passage of time. You may be surprised to be reminded that these things happened…

Fig Tree was reborn as Smokva Garden in collaboration with the Croatian Club.

Smokva started collecting compost from Momo wholefood cafe, kick starting a rhythm on weekly compost creation which has totaled about 40 cubic meters of compost added back into our soil from 4.5 tons of food scraps!

We have been making our own bokashi starter culture which has allowed Momo to store their food waste outside of their fridge and for households to collect their waste in a 20L bucket over the course of 3 weeks before bringing it in to the garden – no smells!

The neighboring preschool has been bringing their compost over in an army of tiny wheel barrows, which is a sight to behold.

Bridie Piaf came and wrote a wonderful article about our garden which featured on the cover of Earth Garden magazine.

We have advertised for a paid position making our compost. This is targeted to be an ideal first ever job for someone who would like to make connections in the community and build references.

We have become an authorised organisation, advertising for an over 55yo job seeker to do regular maintenance at the garden.

We have replaced all the railway sleeper garden beds with rejuvenated ground beds and eradicated all the couch grass. Reducing the mowing requirements by about 30%. Many vegetable are growing out of this space at the moment including, rainbow chard, beetroot, kale, silverbeet, beans, corn, pumpkin, zucchini, tomato, okinawa spinach, warrigal greens, rhubarb and more! These are being regularly harvested by gardeners and the public, some of which have made voluntary donations ranging from $2 to $200.

We have 7 chickens who get visits from multiple families every day, donating scraps and collecting eggs.

We have a team of 5 who water the garden on a daily basis as required.

We received a $1000 grant for building a path through the garden which is 50% complete.

We have been increasing the plant diversity at the garden, planting out more things like pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, garlic, tumeric, coffee, davidson plum, monstera deliciosa, avocado, arrowroot and grumichama. Most fruit trees have been professionally pruned, composted and mulched.

Achieving our Mission

Bring a diverse group of Newcastle’s inner west residents together in a beautiful community garden to, provide social opportunities, education and to grow and distribute healthy food on a neighbourhood scale. 👉 Mission, Objective & Philosophy.

We have brought a large group of residents together and made huge improvements to the beauty of our garden space. Each of the working bees have been great social opportunities and we have had several shared meals. Many new friendships have been made. We held one workshop in collaboration with the Seed Library and have two more scheduled. There is regular produce available at the garden including consistent leafy greens, beets, beans, eggs and seasonal fruit from the trees.

The community that comes to the garden is largely centered around the social group of the core participants however we are seeing more participation from people who pass through the space. We should prioritise signage to help the neighbourhood get involved. We should also invite other specific communities to get involved with posters and flyers.


Job Seeker Volunteer Position – Grounds and Maintenance

We have a grounds and maintenance position available at the Croatian Club which meets Centerlink’s mutual obligation requirements as explained here.

Smokva is a community garden in Wickham. A loose group of about 50 locals pull together to grow as much food as possible in their neighbourhood. We we could really do with some help with some of the weekly tasks such as mowing, trimming, general tidying of the grounds and maintenance.

If this interests you, we would love to hear from you. Please write to or call Adrian on 0435828690


Making a crushed granite path

This weekend we started work on our pathway, with help from Andrew, Freddy and Aaron.

Our goal is to have it 1.4m wide so that two wheel barrows can pass abreast and people in wheelchairs can turn around at any point.

The process

  1. We rake back the mulch which has been killing the grass underneath revealing the cardboard.
  2. Apply another layer of cardboard, making sure to leave no holes or gaps.
  3. Spread granite 5cm thick. Taking care that it does not slide under the cardboard and lift it up because this would lead to flaps of cardboard coming through the path.
  4. Use the protruding edge of cardboard to either lay more cardboard for mulching the surrounding areas or back fill with mulch if the area is already mulched. It will much easier to deal with grass coming through mulch than granite.
  5. Rake out evenly over time as the ground becomes compacted with walking and rain.

Together again

With COVID restrictions being lifted almost completely and our regions vaccination rates at 87.7%, we are now allowed to meet again in the garden with care. We have had two productive Fridays and a Sunday back.

Freddy and I disassembled and re-assembled the compost bins around behind the glasshouse. They are now arranged in a row for easier shoveling. The are wide spaces around them to allow the local birds of prey easy access to any rodents or roaches making their way in and out of the heaps. Collection from Momo has resumed, so these piles should be heating up as you read this! Alistair was back on the fork.

Hywel and Lee removed and relocated a heap of jade trees to the carpark, which has made the car park look nicer and allowed for unobstructed chicken viewing. The chickens have been incredibly popular and we’ve seen a huge increase in foot traffic through the garden.

Torry planted out a whole lotta tomato plants with marigolds in between. The idea is that the marigolds will deter root-knot nematodes.

Phil and Andrew made a start on fixing the bocce fence and will continue soon with more tools and fixings.

Pete did an epic job trimming the lawns (as usual) and Lee was on the mower. Kate also tried her hand at mowing and now has a new appreciation for her beautiful grass free garden at home.

A large pile of granite has arrived so we can get started on making a pathway through the garden any time now.

We are trialing a open finance system that will allow any of you to check out the garden’s budget at any point in time


Current Projects

These are some of the longer term tasks that need to be completed around the garden. There might not be enough information here for you to complete the task, but if you see something that looks interesting or within your skill set, please get in touch because we would love people to take ownership or help out! Always, your project ideas are welcome too!

Adrian, 0435 828 690

Chicken house upgrade

We need to build some laying boxes and perches in the existing chicken shed. The needs to accommodate more chickens (somewhere between 7 and 30).

Granite path

A pathway has been marked out for a path that runs through the garden. The process will be to wet and put lime down on this space before covering with cardboard and then 5cm of granite. There should be 30cm of extra cardboard protruding out from the path so that our mulch can overlap. all the grass areas in the garden will be mulched. We may re introduce a no-mow or low mow variety in the future.

Prepare sign

Scrape the flaky paint off the sign. Use a sheet to catch paint flakes. Prime the sign for painting.

Compost bay reshuffle

The compost bays need to be relocated in a straight line behind the glass house. There are some pavers laid out in a pad that need to be stacked against the fence.

Sleeper gateway

Make an entrance gateway using the old sleepers, like this.

Making crop circles

Continue to make cropping circles following in the exsisting style. Circles can be placed anywhere, leaving room for walking in between and leaving room for the pathway. There is a large pile of soil and compost in front of the cubby house that you can use, try to get a mix of virgin soil (dry and grey) and fresh compost (black, wormy, heavenly). This should be piled twice as high as the others you see, because it will compact over time. Circles are 2.3m in diameter (more or less). Spaces between circles can be filled with irregular perennial beds. The circles can be processed by letting the chickens turn the soil, eat old veges and do their pooping using the bamboo domes.

Fix bocce fence

Concrete in lengths of 5cm steel pole to re-attach the fence.

Sheet mulching

The aim is to eradicate cooch grass form the entire community garden, so once the cropping section is sheet mulched we can work our way in to the northern “Food Forrest” section.

Meg uses black plastic to heat treat the grass embedded around the water tank.

Covid Garden Times

Though the current lock down has meant that we need to cancel all our regular group working bees, the garden has been a welcome and safe refuge for some of us to go and spend time with a friend in fresh air, at a distance. Similarly to exercising, anyone is allowed to garden with 1 friend or with people from the same house and many people have been using this opportunity to get their hands dirty and do some gardening experimentation.

Over the last two weeks all the fruit trees were pruned by Anton, Adrian, Michelle, Lachy and Curtis. Meg Launched an assault on the couch grass hiding around the tank (the idea is that the black plastic deprives the grass of light and cooks it over summer.) Anneliese seeded out some vegetables in the hot house. Curtis and I made a bamboo chicken star dome (here’s the recipe).

I should also mention that Anton (and sometimes Rochelle) seems to be toiling away in the garden any time that I drop in day or night! Nice work Anton! And thanks to everyone who’s been helping out that I haven’s seen (or remembered!)

Man holding star shaped woven bamboo.
Curtis holds the fist stage of the bamboo chicken dome.
Man carrying chansaw and some branches through a garden.

Lockdown Mulching

After a few failed attempts to get mulch delivered into the garden – due to the covid testing que blocking the carpark – we took matters into our own hands and felled a few of the weed trees that have popped up over the last few years. Lachie cut down 4 Chinese Hackberries and then later in the after noon Jack came and fed them trough mulcher. It’s always surprising how small trees pack down when they are reduced to chips. Never fear, they’ll be trees again soon. Thanks Lachie and Jack!

Man standing next to huge mulcher wearing protective equipment.

Smokva Vs Pokemon Trading

Boy in stall selling pickles. 3 matchbox cars near by.

Sunday was another delightfully sunny winter day. Lee, Pete and Kate did a meticulous job of some much needed lawn care, pushing further back on the areas of the garden that have been over run with a mix of debris, domesticated grass and plastic bags. Freddy honed his carpentry skills as he put latches on the cabinet doors that have been flapping in the breeze. Spencer unleashed all his fury upon a decrepit railway sleeper, getting us a few steps closer to removing all the old garden beds. Alas the prior mentioned brothers were lured away from the working bee to a Pokemon trading day at Islington park and productivity rapidly declined. Andrew and Laura saved the day though, rocking up with some date and walnut cake which, along with Pete’s Treats, fueled the rest of an unquestionably successful day, in which Lee and Alistair did some pruning and mulching, Laurandrew made a new garden bed and Julia planted a Monstera Deliciousa!

Date slice on a table.

Hitting our stride

You missed a cracker of a day in the garden, there were eight people in attendance and it was a beautiful sunny winter day. Marko bulldozed through some of the remaining old garden beds, separating sleepers, soil and couch grass. Meg was the reigning compost queen and turned all the compost and made a big new batch. Both Maddie and Anton made new garden beds AND planted them out- with the help of Nick who also potted on all our tomato seedlings. Riley and Adrian disassembled the bocce fence, after it started to disassemble itself. There was a great feeling of rhythm as we have been adding garden beds, planting seedlings, planting seeds, making compost and each of these processes feed into each other every week!

Two people planting seedlings


Vision, Mission & Aim 2020

On Sunday 15th August 2020 we held a special committee meeting and invited members of the community to come and share their visions for the future of the Fig Tree community Garden. We began by reviewing the previously stated aims of the organisation and heard a round of feedback. We followed this guide: How to facilitate a team vision workshop.

We would like to uphold the previous aims of providing organic food, smiles, skill development, cultural diversity, sustainable development, water wisdom, waste reduction, engaging community development, hands-on gardening and construction, inclusion, therapeutic involvement, native and food producing plants, innovation, opportunity and fun.

We also asked what members should be able to do in the garden and how it should make them feel. Overwhelmingly, people wanted clear and simple communication about the ways the people can get involved in the garden. These opportunities to get involved should be regular, predictable and well publicised in diverse channels. 

Everyone should feel welcome to eat something from the garden, help with growing plants or just chill and maybe share a cup of tea with a friend.

We would like everyone to know when the events are happening and for people to know what they are “allowed” to do in the garden. We want them to know how they can help and for everyone to have something to do- whether they have a little time to give, or a lot.

The garden should be an accessible, safe space and positive for all of our mental well being. We want people to feel kindness, belonging, empowerment, solidarity, agency, ownership and intimacy with the land.

We want to be sharing skills, experience and knowledge that we can put to use in the garden, or take out and help regenerate the world. Individuals should be able to express themselves and instigate change.

We believe in caring for the earth (including providing wildlife & insect habitat), caring for people (like supporting each other’s mental health, fair work opportunities) and fair share – the permaculture ethics.

Fig Tree Community garden should be financially sustainable and allow for economically diverse participation, reducing the effects of wealth division.

Though FTCG has previously partaken in work for the dole, we will now concentrate on directly providing fair work opportunities.

We seek to build partnerships with other organisations, including with the Wickham Croatian Sports Club Cooperative to build events around music, food and culture.

See the resulting Mission, Objective & Philosophy.