POOWONG residents will soon have a new place to meet and share in friendship and fresh local food, with plans underway to open a community garden in the heart of town.

The proposed site at the rear of the All Saints Anglican Church on Nyora Road hosted a celebration on Sunday, with Gippsland South MP and self-confessed “gardening nerd” Danny O’Brien given the honour of turning the first sod, with a specially made golden spade.

In his first appearance at a community event in six months, Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien was invited to turn the first sod at the new Poowong Community Garden, where he was joined by representatives of the local church, business community, Landcare groups, gardening and history clubs and South Gippsland Shire Council on Sunday. Photo: Paul Robinson.

He was joined by representatives of the church, the local business community, Landcare groups, gardening and history clubs and South Gippsland Shire Council, all of whom have had a hand in the project, which will see everyone in the community given free access to fresh fruit and veggies and a variety of other donated plants.

All Saints Anglican Church Reverend Fran Grimes told the 30 or so people in attendance at Sunday’s COVID-safe event the vision for the garden had been in the works since early last year, when the Poowong community’s 145 year celebrations got the various groups thinking about where they’d like to be in five years’ time – for the big 150th bash.

It was 16-year-old Charlie Hall, the daughter of Poowong pub owners Ben Hall and Fiona Cox, who came up with the idea for a garden, as something that could fulfil the groups’ shared desire to build a stronger community now, rather than years down the track.

“There’s already several interest groups in town, as well as a lot of new people moving into the district,” Rev Grimes explained.

Site plan for the new Poowong Community Garden.

“Charlie’s idea was to create something in town where everybody could come together and do something together; something that was open to everyone, all the time.”

Since then, the groups involved have secured two grants from Anglicare Victoria to put up a noticeboard and purchase soil, with fingers crossed for a successful South Gippsland Shire Community Grant application to be announced in the coming weeks.

They’ve also received donations of wooden sleepers from the former South Gippsland Railway – currently being converted into a rail trail – to be repurposed for the construction of the garden beds.

The site plan includes several individual plots for use by smaller groups, as well as one large communal plot, with the many local families who make use of the nearby basketball stadium and recreation reserve encouraged to share in the harvest.

The next steps are to sign up members, and organise working bees to prepare the site.

There’s no cost to get involved, just head to the ‘Poowong community Garden’ Facebook page, or call 0409 425 700.