Food forest welcomes foragers all

Lyneham Commons volunteers Alison Stewart and James Atkins… “We want people to know they’re welcome to come in and pick stuff – this is a garden for the whole community.” Photo by Kathryn Vukovljak

LYNEHAM Commons food forest is celebrating its third birthday with an event welcoming the community to enjoy the space.

One of the founders, Alison Stewart, says the family-friendly party on Sunday, July 15, noon-3pm, will be the first time the group has celebrated the sustainable forest’s birthday.

“We’ve come a long way in the past few years so this is about celebrating what we’ve achieved, thanking our volunteers, while also making more people aware of what’s here,” Alison says.

“We want everyone to know they’re welcome to come in and pick stuff – this is a garden for the whole community.”

The food forest was launched in July, 2015, two years after the initial idea was born from a group of friends and Lyneham residents, says Alison. The group created a proposal and received government support through Transport Canberra and City Services.

The food forest, located behind Lyneham Primary School near Sullivans Creek, uses permaculture principles to grow organic herbs, fruit, nuts and berries.

“We’ve selected trees and varieties that are hardy to Canberra and resistant to pests, including hazelnuts, apples, figs, plums, feijoas, mulberry, elderberry, pears, cherries and herbs,” says James.

“The plantings are ongoing and we want to invite people into that process so they’re also learning about what they can do in their own backyards.”

Alison says the food forest is already being used as intended.

“I was here watering on Christmas Day and someone came along and picked some herbs and zucchinis for their Christmas lunch,” she says.

“And in a few years’ time hopefully the fruit trees will be producing enough for at least a few people to have a bite!”

The group hosts volunteer working bees each month, as well as workshops and activities.

Lyneham Commons says there are already at least 17 community gardens and 77 school food gardens in the ACT, although most are not on public land.

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