Community gardens are back and more popular than ever.

There are more community gardens popping up each year.

Brisbane City Council’s Environment, Parks and Sustainability Committee Councillor, Matthew Bourke, says there are 39 community gardens operating across Brisbane at the moment, with the numbers rising.

“We get new applications every year, which is why Council had to set up the Community Garden Guide on our website,” he says.

“It’s great seeing people come together to exchange ideas, and it’s a great step to reduce our carbon footprint.”

The Council says there are three main benefits of community gardens — social, economic and environmental.

Social, because they strengthen community networks and promote active citizenship.

Economic, because they help save money by increasing participants’ planning and organisation skills as well as providing local enterprise opportunities.

And environmental, because they reduce fossil fuel use and help increase environmental education and eco-literacy.

ABC’s Gardening Australia host, Costa Georgiadis, says community gardens aren’t just a fad.

“There is much more interest in community gardens now, because more people are concerned about where their food is coming from,” he says.

“Community gardens are an outlet of information and education about food, cooking and gardening.

“They’re also a great, non-intimidating way to meet people and engage in the community on a local level.”

Costa says one of the biggest benefits of joining a community garden is social interaction.

“You get to meet people and learn new things,” he says.

“A lot of community groups have classes and workshops too, so you can develop your skills in all areas.”

Costa urges people to “step away from the screen and into the green,” and get involved in their own local garden today.

“Community gardens are a great place to get away from technology and observe a different pace of life,” he says.

“With the internet these days, we don’t have as much face-to-face interaction. Get in the garden and get in people’s faces, I say!”

As well as community gardens, city farms are popping up all over Australia.

“There are different types of ‘community’ gardens,” Costa explains. “There are school gardens, family gardens, verge gardens, local community gardens and city farms.

“City farms are like community gardens but on a larger scale. They focus more on the production of food and often give their produce to charities.”

“They’re really gaining traction and taking over, nationally.”

Brisbane doesn’t have a city farm at the moment, but we’re sure one won’t be too far away.

If a community garden sounds like the perfect little oasis to you, why not set up your own?

Costa says it does take time but it’s worth it.

“Just be patient and do your homework,” he says. “Make sure you talk to people and build interest in it first.

“And don’t feel like you have to be confined to Council land — have a look at private land, too, and look at things like vacant lots and unused tennis courts.”

If you are looking at starting a garden on Council land, though, be aware that Council do provide grants and will support you in your efforts.

However, there are some key elements you need to think about before you seek Council approval.

“Ask yourself things like, ‘Do you have an appropriate site? Do you have stable support and sufficient involvement? Will you be using grey water?’” Councillor Bourke says.

Brisbane City Council’s Community Garden Guide and checklist is available on their website.

Visit www.brisbane.qld.gov.au