Have you found the Lost Plot? Located in Central Road, our fabulous community garden and its wonderful volunteers aim to educate and inspire visitors, all the while growing an array of delicious fruits and veggies. Ali Bigg, President of the Lost Plot committee, is passionate about her role … and rightly so! FOCUS’ front cover was shot at the plot this month – how amazing is that landscape!
What are the origins of the Lost Plot … How did the idea come about to establish it?
It was one of those synergistic situations – Council had been researching potential sites at the same time as a few community members had started a movement on social media and called a meeting independently of Council. A NSW Govt. grant was received by Council (in 2012) to establish a Community Garden in Port Macquarie. We started physical works on the site in early 2013.
The grant enabled Council to engage a project officer to support the establishment of a community group who would ultimately manage the asset. From this process, Port Macquarie Community Gardens Inc. (PMCGI) was born. The grant also paid for a lot of the infrastructure that is on the site today.
How would you sum up the aim/s of the plot?
PMCGI wants the Lost Plot to inspire, nurture, educate and provide a sharing space for growth, food, celebration and creativity. We want to provide opportunities for people to come and share knowledge and skills about sustainable gardening and living, health and wellbeing. We want it to be a space for everyone, and we encourage diversity, sharing, respect and participation.
What are you currently growing on site?
We have a large range of crops growing and are on the cusp of seasonal change. All the winter greens – broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are bolting to flower now, just as new summer crops such as beans and squash are germinating. We have potatoes, broad beans, tomatoes, lots of leafy greens, radish and beetroot.
One of the key components of a healthy garden is diversity, and we have a range of flowering plants and ponds in the garden to attract insects to help pollinate and protect our food crops.
Our food forest is underway, with a number of fruit trees going in during autumn this year, so in a few years’ time we hope to have abundant fruit and even some nuts. Sooner than that there will be papaya, banana and citrus.
What happens to the produce grown?
We are a not-for-profit organisation who operate solely through the good will and dedication of members and volunteers.
As recognition of this support, members are able to come into the garden and pick small amounts of produce at any time, remembering that the Lost Plot is not a supermarket! We have working bees on Thursday and Saturday mornings, and part of this is always harvesting what is ready. Volunteers then share in that harvest. So, I would recommend that if people want to get involved, they become a member and a volunteer and help us keep this beautiful space productive.
Tell us a bit more about the plot … Where is it located, and how big is it? What improvements have been made to the site?
We are located on Central Road, just opposite the Emergency Services precinct. There is a sign out the front and a treed area between the road and the garden. We manage the site on a lease from Council, and it is over a hectare in size.
The main area of the garden is about the size of three suburban blocks and has raised beds, keyhole garden beds, a kitchen and pizza oven, storage sheds, composting systems (including a loo), a greenhouse and potting area and a bridge across the “creek”. Most of this was paid for by the initial grant, but has been developed over a number of years.
Given the Lost Plot is manned by volunteers, how many helpers do you currently have? Do you need more volunteers at this stage?
We would love for everyone to join up and support this vibrant and functional community resource. Working bees are optional, so I’d encourage people to support us, even if they are unable to come along in person very often. Annual membership ranges from $10 (concession) to $30 (family), so it is a really affordable option that ensures you will be first to know about the great events and activities being run in the garden, and provides insurance cover while you are in the plot as well. We currently have over 80 members.
How else can the community help the plot … are you looking for donations/sponsorships?
We are a not-for-profit operated by volunteers, and donations and sponsorships are always very welcome. We are currently developing a sponsorship package with the aim of being able to engage someone part-time to expand and enhance the range of workshops and activities that we provide at the plot.
During the Tastings on Hastings, celebrity chef Matt Golinski will be visiting the plot. What date/time will Matt be on site – and what will he be sharing with visitors?
Matt will be giving a fresh food feast demonstration (and tasting!) with produce picked and gathered from the plot and local producers. He’ll be onsite on Sunday 29th October from 11am. This is a ticketed event, and they are selling fast, so make sure you book via the Facebook page or website (tickets are $5 and are going towards covering costs of the event).
Final say …
I’d like to thank our many supporters and incredible volunteers. The Lost Plot is continuing to grow and evolve, and it can only do this because of our fantastic community.
I’d again encourage everyone who reads this to become a member. The more people engaged with the Lost Plot, either actively or not, means the more great events, activities and opportunities we can provide for the region.