We all know how much of an issue water has become recently. Not everyone will know that water has been an issue for our Garden since its establishment back in 2008. We held “Wise Water Use” workshops regularly in the early days and have always been consistent in asking people to plant wisely, mulch heavily and water at appropriate times.
Over the years, the Committee has often considered connecting to Barwon Water as a way to improve water reliability. The costs – both getting the connection and paying the ongoing fixed and variable charges – have always been a major barrier to getting this done. We resorted instead to purchasing water, sourced from a Barwon Water standpipe and delivered by tank truck.
In 2018 after a long dry period and ever increasing water purchases, the Committee re-visited the issue once again. In the process, we reflected on the original aims of the Garden, which included Permaculture and Sustainability. But we also reflected on the feedback we had received from plotholders and members disheartened by the poor crops resulting from lack of water. We explored the possibility of sinking a bore to access ground water.
In the end, we decided that the Garden did require a reliable water supply to grow in both horticultural and social senses, and that a Barwon Water connection was the best solution. The time had come to find a way to manage the costs and get the job done.
Enter the Bendigo Bank (Barwon Heads branch). Through their Community Investment program, they have generously agreed to provide support funding of $6000 to help us install our water project. You can check out the Community Investment program (and Bendigo Bank more generally) on their website
Bendigo Bank (Barwon Heads branch) have also offered us an opportunity to obtain additional funding , which will help to defray ongoing costs of water. (more details on this at a later date)
In keeping with the Garden’s Sustainability aims, the water project comes in two parts:
1 Connecting up to Barwon Water as a back-up supply to our rainwater collection system. Installing automatic irrigation for efficient watering of our fruit trees. The Barwon Water connection will be made so that the existing water reticulation system can be supplied either from the tanks (so we will still be sustainable and use all our rainwater) OR from Barwon Water (when the tanks run dry).
2 The irrigation system will be an extension of the automated system used in the polyhouse. A number of new dripper lines will be installed so that the fruit trees can be efficiently AND sufficiently watered to improved health and yield.
The total cost of the project (including “in kind” support from our Garden plotholders and members) is almost $12,000. The “in kind support” includes Project Management, labour for the installation of some of the project as well as support for a proper “turning on the tap” celebration.
In December 2019 we celebrated the completion of the water project with a community gathering and ‘Tap Turning’. Our garden community came together to hear about the project, thank the Bendigo Bank and see the symbolic turning on of the tap.