Bondi, New South Wales. Australia

Nicolette Boaz' controversial verge garden

Nicolette Boaz’ controversial verge garden

Gardening on the verge is a huge movement in Australia popularized by environmental concerns and the ‘Gardening Australia’ television program, hosted from Bondi.  Nevertheless, late in 2012 local Council ordered Nicolette Boaz to remove her tended community fruit and vegetable garden from the verge.

Ms Boaz was supported by Russ Grayson of the Australian Community Farms and Gardens Network who identified three key benefits of allowing such plantings:

  1. greater access to free food
  2. increased sociability between neighbours
  3. promotion of practical and social skills

He argued that turning what is often completely unused space over to productive use alters “the city from a big consuming organism to a producing organism.  Community gardens are a means of making places out of spaces.

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 1.54.10 AMGeorge Stent, co-owner of Stent Garden in Clovelly, expanded on the value of verge/community gardens “it’s quite a powerful statement about reaching out to the community“.

Andrew O’Sullivan who designed Stent garden defended Ms Boaz’s failure to apply for a permit stating:  “As far as I’m concerned, we do the maintenance on the nature strip [so] we will be maintaining gardens on the nature strip. We are beautifying the area … we are putting trees in, we are making habitat for local wildlife. I can’t see a reason that we are making any problem in that area.”

Ms Boaz further countered criticism of rejecting the application process,  “The neighbours under the current regulations can have the power of veto – without any reason being required. I maintained this area- the council never have and neither have the neighbours. I pay to have it mown , I water it and the idea that anyone should want to have it taken out is frankly -ludicrous. However to their credit – it seems the Council have backed down on their desire to have it removed due to the enormous publicity the little tiny garden has generated making Waverley Council look positively ancient in their thinking. No one has actually contacted from the Council to let me know their stance despite my calls for feedback. The garden is looking beautiful still.”

In 2003 the Ontario (Canada) Superior Court agreed, stating that residents have the right to garden on city-owned boulevards adjacent to their properties, provided that they do pose a health or safety hazard.

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Costa Georgiadis, host of Gardening Australia, surrounded by some of the Bondi verge gardens he inspired.

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