2020 - 2021

2020 of course saw the arrival of COVID-19 and associated lockdowns, which presented challenges for the garden. Just before restrictions came into place, a ‘Connecting MCG Gardens’ event was held at PCG, which provided an opportunity for the MCG Board, OCs, and other members to get together. This was the last gathering to occur at the garden for quite some time!


'Connecting MCG Gardens' event, February 2020 (source: Andrew Ogbourne)

Throughout the remainder of 2020 and the majority of 2021, garden attendance was restricted in line with government regulations. Although the garden could remain open for the ‘essential purpose of growing and harvesting food’, the compost system was shut down for several months, and new members could not be accepted for some time. During the most severe restrictions only one person could visit the garden at a time, for one hour maximum, based on a strict booking system. This removed the social element of gardening, and so the OC and MCG made an effort to engage members through online avenues including digital workshops, members Facebook group, virtual meetings, a ‘meet our members’ series of profiles on Facebook, and a virtual induction incorporating a number of instructional videos for new members. 

COVID-19 restrictions announcement, August 2020
Online workshop advertisement, October 2020
'Meet our members': Katya & James, August 2021
Virtual induction, September 2021
Video of Patsy demonstrating use of the compost system, July 2021

It took extra effort to coordinate the garden during lockdowns. Tasks needed to be posted online or written up at the shed, and large jobs had to be coordinated between different people across multiple visits. Despite the challenges, there was still someone at the garden for approximately 4.5 hours per day throughout Melbourne’s lockdowns, highlighting its importance  during a difficult time. 

“I live in a little apartment, so I am grateful to have an open space for me and the monster (dog) to run. It was a tough year last year, and this year has been weird. The people at PCG are part of my sanity.” (Erin Kirby, garden member and former OC member, November 2020)

October 2021 (source: Jessica Peeler)

The garden continued to pump out produce, and in between lockdowns there were even some in-person meetings and projects that took place, including the installation of the noticeboard at the front gate (big thanks to Andrew, Jo, Katya, and James in particular!), the installation of a native garden bed built in conjunction with Coburg Children’s Centre through a Moreland City Council grant, and the installation of a Portaloo (spearheaded by Russell). 2020 was also used to produce an Amenity Plan that would guide the future priorities of the garden. 

Virtual OC meeting, March 2020
Communal beds, April 2020
Noticeboard, February 2021
Organising Committee meeting (left to right: Julie, Kat, Erin, Suzi [Board member], Patsy, Jo, Janice, Russell) March 2021
Portaloo installed at the garden, October 2021