Motorists cruising along Limestone Avenue are probably more likely to notice the message board outside the Church of Christ, rather than the lumps and shapes on the tennis court – veggie patches enclosed with sleepers and covered with netting.
All types of veggies are growing, with the help of a 10,000 litre water tank, fed by run-off from the enormous roof on the church.
Pastor Ken Perrin says his family history is in the vegetable gardening business in Melbourne. “My uncle was a market gardener in the Dandenongs.”
A couple of years after he and his wife, Chris, were posted to the church, they decided to make better use of the sad-looking tennis courts.
“Because it’s an ageing congregation, the two tennis courts weren’t being used and they needed a lot of work done,” Chris Perrin says.
“We felt we’ve been given that land and we thought it should be used for the community and so we came up with the idea for the community garden.”
Ken Perrin says: “The founding philosophy of the project is, church is about community, community is about church, the church needs to be part of community.
“We looked around and saw the nearby flats and thought, what on earth can we do which is going to bring these people together and actually teach them something at the same time? Both of us are avid gardeners and so we thought, a community garden – why not?”
When I mentioned I’d only recently noticed the sign for the community garden, on the wire fence of the old tennis court, Chris Perrin agrees: “We’re told we need bigger signs.”
Even with the small signage, it’s a wonder the demand for the subsidised plots is not higher.
The church charges only $35 per year for a plot which costs it around $200 for the sleepers and soil.
Leasing a plot is a cheaper way to put veggies and herbs on the dinner table than buying them at the supermarket. And the taste of homegrown is always superior.