FIG’s 10th birthday

It all began in January 2013, with Carl Leddy and Larraine Hahlos inviting interested persons to a meeting at their art gallery to present ideas for a community garden on the grounds of the Friendly Inn.

Carl, John Wells and a couple of others had already met with Peter Thompson to draw up a contract and constitution which was presented at that first meeting.

Approximately 12 people attended, including Ian Chambers, Brenda Sambrook, Bruno Henke, David Loneragan and Jo Mathews, to name but a few.  

There was a discussion on the benefits of growing local produce for KV residents on a commercial basis, and whether to have individual plots for garden members.

The following month another meeting was held by Carl as de facto president. This was Peter Brandis’ first introduction to the group, and by the next meeting he had taken over as chairman. 

The president of the KV Voice, Carl Leddy, and KV Tourist Association president, Chris Warren, donated $2,000 as an interest -ree loan and the Friendly Inn Community Garden became a registered company. 

At the first AGM held at the Friendly Inn in August 2013 these office bearers were elected:

Peter Brandis – President

Bruno Henke. – Treasurer 

Jo Mathews. – Secretary

Jim Anderson – Infrastructure manager

David Loneragan – Garden Manager,

with Carl Leddy, Larraine Hahlos, Brenda Sambrook and Mark McKlennan as committee members. 

In May 2013, 5,000 garlic were planted under the supervision of David Loneragan and harvested in Dec 2013. David held a garlic plaiting morning where bundles of 25 were made and the community was invited to attend a gathering in the beer garden, where new members were presented with a plaited bundle of garlic as a welcome. Although nothing but garlic was planted that first year there was plenty of weeding and bed preparation accomplished 

In March 2014 Brenda and David resigned and it was decided to plant a greater variety of vegetables. A simple wire mesh fence was erected around the beds to keep out the wildlife, as well as strawberry guavas being planted along the fence line. John den Hollander and wife Helena, a herbalist, created a herb garden which included Elderberry, cardamom, lavender, oregano, chives, mint, parsley, and many more. 

John looked after that garden till the wet weather of 2022 saw much of it destroyed. 

The 2014 AGM saw Carl Leddy and Larraine Hahlos resign and Kirsty Hambrook and Trevor Edmonds joined  the committee, with Peter Brandis staying on as president, along with Bruno, Jim and Jo. 

As infrastructure manager Jim offered to build a much needed shed to house tools and a shade roof to give shelter from the hot summer sun. Bruno was instrumental in discussing our needs with local state member Gareth Ward and FIG was successful in receiving  a grant of $6,000. Jim and his helpers erected the shed and shade roof with Gary Thomas doing the electrical work. Jim constructed the concrete wall and the long wooden table and benches we still enjoy today. 

I joined the garden as a new KV resident in 2015, soon developing a passion for growing organic vegetables. Peter Brandis introduced me to permaculture and Kirsty taught me the importance of soil improvement. 

The variety of vegetables grown was ever increasing – salad greens, tomatoes, carrots, egg plant, variety of onions and potatoes, cucumbers, brassicas – fulfilling the original concept of growing local produce for KV residents with all garden members sharing  in the produce grown and harvested at each Thursday morning working bee.

When Peter Brandis resigned as president and Jo Mathews stepped down,  Jim Anderson took over as president and I became secretary. Jim organised a tree planting day and a variety of citrus was planted, although we lost a few; those that have survived with much TLC are now producing fruit. 

When Jim and wife Penny moved to Canberra due to Penny’s work commitments, Trevor Edmonds took over as President and I moved to Vice President and Susan, Trevor’s wife, became Secretary for a year before joining the Berry Community Garden. 

Lincoln and Jane James moved to KV in 2018, along with their two small children Georgie and Lawson, and Linc soon became very involved in the garden and was elected president.

During 2019 the Farmers Market was moved to the area behind the beer garden at the Friendly Inn. Peter Thompson then asked the FIG committee to manage the markets and receive $20 of the stall holders’ fees, enabling FIG to have their own stall and be able to sell their excess produce, allowing us to maintain an income and not rely solely on membership fees for our finances. 

One of our first purchases was a hot house, erected by Lincoln and Peter Clark, to dabble in seed raising, an art we are still perfecting. 

Due to work commitments Linc resigned at the 2020 AGM and, after serving as VP, I took on the role as President. We then had the challenges of keeping the garden productive during Covid and lockdowns, managing with our members gardening two at a time on a daily/ weekly roster. 

The continual dredge of weeding around beds led the current committee’s decision to purchase raised garden beds. 

Our treasurer Anni organised Easter and Mother’s Day raffles, cooking sausage sizzles at the pub on Thursday locals’ night, selling tickets at the pig races and, thanks to Anni and Suzanne, reintroducing trivia at the Friendly Inn once a month in order to raise extra money. We then purchased the first of 12 beds, one being donated by Maria Visotina, and invited the community to a working bee to construct the beds followed by a BBQ and drinks donated by the Friendly Inn.

Our continued fund-raising and money from the markets has allowed us to construct a 10 x 8 metre enclosed garden bed, with a very generous donation from JJFarmer at Winderong Farm to help with expenses. 

Colin Mathews drew up a plan, and Adam Tildsley constructed our enclosure with help from Danny and Joey Thomas, allowing us to incorporate another nine beds with no kikuyu grass in sight. 

Last year our talented secretary Tanya applied for a Federal government grant through Fiona Phillips  to purchase much needed tools, and thankfully our application was successful. Now with new tools and raised beds we have made our working bees much less labor intensive, which allows us to concentrate on improving the growth of produce which we can offer to members in our community. 

During the next year we would like to reintroduce workshops and social events and we hope many more community members will join us. 

FIG is alive and thriving and happy to be celebrating its 10th birthday.

Special thanks to all past members and Peter Thompson and the Friendly Inn for their continued support for the FIG Community garden.

We would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this valley we have the privilege to call home, their elders, past, present and emerging . 

On behalf of the current committee

Lyn Rutherford – President 

Kerry Fletcher – Vice President 

Anni Tildsley – Treasurer

Tanya Southworth – Secretary

Suzanne Greer – Committee member,

We would like to thank you for your continued community support .

Kerry Fletcher