St Lucia Brisbane: Argument erupts over ‘guerilla’ community veggie patch by Growing Forward
A ‘neighbourhood watch leader’ has been filmed trying to dismantle a makeshift community garden after complaining that it had been planted over a cricket pitch used by local kids.
The ‘guerilla’ veggie patch was created in St Lucia’s Playground Park, Brisbane on March 24, only for a woman to begin removing it with her bare hands days after a council compliance officer had issued a notice to cease and clear the area.
In the 13-minute video the woman says that she’s received ‘quite a few complaints’ from concerned community members, and that she’s there to check the state of a cricket pitch beneath the garden.
Growing Forward, a community organisation that grows food ‘on stolen land for anyone who needs it’, claims it built the garden on ‘public land’ to help people self-organise, grow their own food and promote gardening.
Despite the good intentions of the group, several attempts – including that of the local resident – have been made to remove the garden since it was built last week.
In the video people attempt to stop the local, who claims she is simply checking the cricket pitch below
A man sitting with his girlfriend saw the woman walking on the garden and picking at the dirt, prompting the couple to approach her and begin recording.
A friend of the local, who onlookers refer to as Karen, asked why the couple began recording.
‘Because I saw a lady kicking and pulling stuff out of this garden,’ the man behind the camera replied.
Within minutes the resident also began filming the couple, who she said were becoming aggressive despite her not ‘touching a single plant’.
‘The hostility level is starting to rise and I think that’s really unfortunate,’ she said.
‘This is where the children play cricket, I am checking the damage to the grass – you’re ruining the cricket pitch.’
The man tells her that he had already recorded her kicking plants before another advocate of the garden begins to block the woman’s movements.
‘Don’t push me, I’ve got a spinal injury,’ she said, before gesturing to the friend she came with.
‘Could you film this for me, please?
‘Because it’s getting a bit violent.’
As she continues to step around those protecting the garden, they ask her to stop ripping up the carboard insulation saying she ‘shouldn’t be doing this’ with her spinal injuries.
‘I’m just checking what damage you’ve done already, because this is a heated surface,’ the woman said.
‘This is a heated surface because they put some soil and grass on it – so as you can see grass is beginning to die.
‘So you’ve brought this to our area from wherever it is you come from.’
The man then alleges that the resident is using racist ‘dog whistles’.
Others try telling her that it’s a community garden meant to be shared by everyone.
‘It’s not everyone’s garden because you’re using it for something that nobody else here necessarily agrees with,’ she replies.
Although Growing Forward did not receive permission from the council before planting the garden, the group claims it collaborated with the community.
‘This garden was established after the area was doorknocked and leafleted and it was built with the help of people living in the surrounding streets,’ the group wrote on Facebook.
Despite these claims, councilor for Walter Taylor, James Mackay, said that the group was told to dismantle the garden before the resident had even arrived.
Growing Forward creates ‘guerilla gardens’ around Brisbane to help promote gardening and healthy eating
As the person recording began asking others if they had battery on their phones because his was about to die, the local woman continued to defend the cricket pitch.
‘Kids from all over St. Lucia walk over a kilometre to stay in touch and play cricket here – this is their pitch,’ she says.
The St Lucia community remained divided on the garden, with some commenting on Facebook that although the group had good intentions, greater communication with locals could have avoided the confrontation.
Many agreed that the resident’s behaviour was ’embarrassing’, but some conceded that she was ‘sticking up for kids’.
‘It is making a children’s playground an unpleasant place,’ another comment read.
The woman herself took to Facebook to defend her actions saying she would’ve been happy to talk, if not for ‘the ratio of ten-to-one’ she’d encountered.
Growing Forward has used the incident to raise awareness of their fundraiser which aims to build more ‘guerilla gardens’ in other Brisbane suburbs.
Thus far $4,250 of its $8,000 goal has been raised, with each garden costing approximately $2,000 to set up.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Queensland Police for comment.
Growing Forward has used the incident to raise awareness of their fundraiser which aims to build more ‘guerilla gardens’ in other Brisbane suburbs
Thus far $4,250 of its $8,000 goal has been raised, with each garden costing approximately $2,000 to set up