Permaculture Garden: Northey Street City Farm Windsor

Northey Street City Farm is a non-profit, community organisation situated on the banks of Brisbane’s Breakfast Creek. More than 1500 exotic and native fruit trees, bushtucker plants, shrubs and ground covers have been planted on the 4 hectare farm site. The farm has been developed for people to enjoy and participate in using the principles of permaculture. It is also intended to be a demonstration site where people of all ages can learn through practical, hands-on experience.

A residential housing estate was built on the site in the 1880s. This area gained a reputation as one of the first streets to be flooded after heavy rain. The Brisbane City Council resumed the land and the Northey Street site became vacant parkland. In April 1994, a group of friends proposed to build a farm based on ethics and the practical principles of permaculture on the site. Council accepted the proposal and a peppercorn lease of $1 a year was established.

  • Training that takes place at Northey Street City Farm:
  • Work for the Dole Program and traineeships
  • work experience placement for students
  • permaculture design course
  • credited permaculture training courses
  • workshops.

The Northey Street City Farm employs an administration officer, promotion officer, community engagement officer, finance officer and green team coordinator.

Enterprises include organic market gardens, nursery, café and education sessions.

Lessons learnt:

  • Start slow and small. Do not bite off more than you can chew. Be careful with funding, a big grant can make you too big too soon, and it can be difficult to get processes into place to manage and maintain the funds.
  • Initial success was due to the energy of the local community and support from the asset managers – the parks and gardens staff of council who gave advice, support and materials. The council’s policy officer’s idea of how parks should be managed did not include growing food. The farm challenged them and overtime they got on board.
  • Have good process set up: a mission statement, broad objectives, policy and procedures manual to include – site design and planning, how gardens are managed, and as the gardens grow, include policies on enterprise, employment, workplace health and safety and education.
  • Local councillor support is important. Engage with councillors continuously to keep them informed and invite them to events. Buy-in of the mayor is also very valuable.
  • Partner with local residents and keep them informed through letter box drops, invite neighbours to events, the organic market and café on Sunday. Also partner with other community groups, businesses and council.
  • People burnt out. Most people are not paid, remember to recognise people’s efforts and celebrate achievements.