Local Community Garden Grant

FINALLY ARRIVING: Mount Gambier Old Jail Community Garden Chairman Ben Ransom said the upcoming new on-site toilets for the gardens were a long time coming.

Elsie Adamo

NEW toilets will be installed in the community garden of the former Mount Gambier Gaol, allowing members to spend more time in the garden.

The installation of the toilets was made possible by a $20,000 grant from the federal government’s Stronger Communities program.

Garden community president Ben Ransom said bathrooms on site were a long time coming.

“It’s always been something the committee has rallied around for some time now,” Ransom said.

“I know the members started talking about it 10 to 15 years ago to try to do something about it.”

The group had access to the toilets at nearby Reidy Park Primary School, but Mr Ransom said it was not the most practical arrangement.

“You have to walk some distance to reach them, and during school hours it is not appropriate for us to cross,” Mr Ransom said.

“We had done a bit of fundraising ourselves and raised some money, but nothing that came close to paying for what we really needed there.

“We started putting plans in place; we’ve resurrected some old plans we had a while ago and we’re just trying to talk to some builders.

Mr Ransom, who has been chairman of the gardening group for the past three years, said the 58 members appreciate the sense of community the group offers.

“I initially got involved with my son, he was only a year old at the time, and I thought it might be something we could do together on the weekends,” he said. -he declares.

“It’s a great community meeting space; it’s always nice to bump into other members and chat with them.

“It brings together a pretty diverse part of the community.

“There are a lot of African and Burmese members and they like to grow their zea mays plants; it’s part of their culture and it’s not always easy growing up there.

Mr. Ransom’s favorite part of the community is the garden itself.

“It’s really relaxing to have a place to go that isn’t home where you have fresh produce,” he said.

“There are always things to do to occupy your time; there is an orchard so in the summer you can get fresh fruit.”

The garden has individual plots of land for members to grow what they like, as well as shared orchards and fruit produce.

The community also has accessible plots raised off the ground for any potential members with special needs that make ground plots difficult.

Barker MP Tony Pasin said the community organizations faced challenges and was delighted to have received the grant.

“Community groups, like the Old Mount Gambier Gaol Community Garden, contribute so much to our local community, making them better places to live, work and raise a family,” Pasin said.