Council opens up public parks to resident food planting

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“You have to accept that there are some ignorant people who want to vandalise and ruin things, but you can’t let that stop you and the community from trying to do good,” he said.”I frequently see, whenever I am [at the Bayswater garden], some people down the street getting produce and even people passing by.”People who plant on public land do it to share their produce, it’s a great thing.”

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Anyone can pick from the Bayswater garden, where locals supply the plants and the city the space and reticulation. “Then they will get approval or written notice of why it has been declined.”

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This garden tucked between a pathway and a neighbouring fence was started by residents without permission. “When they become a volunteer with the city they have to do an induction course, their work needs to be checked and they need to keep a logbook of their hours.”Our staff went back and explained to the insurers that these reserves are generally zoned for recreational purposes.”Gardening is recreational so it’s not volunteering for the city, it is utilising the land for the purpose which it is zoned for.”The council motion also retrospectively approved the “guerrilla gardens” that have already been planted. “The residents of this little street over the last 10 years have started planting edible plants,” Mr Cornish said.”It’s fantastic, it looks good and it’s healthy.”Once established, the produce will be freely available to all; the planter won’t have any particular rights to the tree. (ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne) “In essence we have created some very simple guidelines that allow residents to nominate a smallish section of their local park and plant some edible plants, whether that be a tree or something similar,” Mr Cornish said.”If someone sees a suitable location where they’d like to plant a macadamia tree or something, they just have to phone or email the city, state what they want to do and where they want to do it.”They might get approval then and there, or if the officers have some concerns they will arrange a site meeting and might suggest a different spot. Residents in Perth’s inner east will soon be able to plant fruits and vegetables in local parks and reserves without a lengthy approval process.The City of Bayswater Council last week voted unanimously to dramatically reduce the red tape around public gardens.Spearheaded by Deputy Mayor Chris Cornish, he said he believed it was the first initiative of its kind in Australia. Perth’s poor soil bears rare fruit Enthusiasts in Perth are overcoming brutal summers and strict quarantine laws to grow an array of tropical delights. “Initially the insurer said [residents] are volunteers for the city of Bayswater if they are going to be doing gardening and planting trees,” he said. (ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)
Staff praised for overcoming red tapeMr Cornish credited council staff for their persistence in overcoming objections from the city’s insurers around risk and liability to create the new approval process. That is what community is about.”

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A paw paw tree in the Bayswater guerrilla garden that inspired the council’s policy. (ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)
Unsurprisingly, the council has won widespread praise for its decision.The policy was inspired by residents who planted a garden, without permission, in a small reserve near Bayswater train station. Thefts won’t stop usWhile the potential for plant theft or vandalism exists, Mr Cornish thinks the gains for the community outweigh possible downsides.In a reserve in nearby Maylands a lime tree planted by residents was recently stolen. “The public owns the tree,” Mr Cornish said.”One would hope for anyone to go down this course that they are more than happy to share the lemons or apples with anyone passing by.
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Emma Wynne

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February 08, 2018 09:00:39

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Chris Cornish was keen to cut red tape and help residents plant food in parks. (ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)
Guerrilla gardeners transform council 'desert' into fertile green space