The Balgownie community recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their precious community garden 'Bally's Patch', which has brought them all together.
On Sunday, October 8 the community gathered to celebrate 10 years since they lobbied for the little block of land on Church Street to become their own green space.
As you walk into the garden you pass a welcome sign, and the smell of rosemary hits you before you notice the actual bush.
Four brightly coloured benches and plenty of flowers, produce and native species are spread out across the sections. It's likely you will be greeted with a warm welcome and smile just a few steps along the path.
It didn't always look this colourful and vibrant; 10 years ago it was a mysterious empty plot of land on Church St.
When Rebecca Schafer moved next door to the vacant land many of her neighbours asked if she had also purchased the block.
Out of pure curiosity, she investigated why the land was vacant. The Wollongong City Council had set aside the land for community purposes.
"It was really curiosity that got me going and it was the support and the motivation of the community that kept that going," she said.
And so the idea to create Balgownie Community Garden, or Bally's Patch as it is affectionately known, was born in 2014.
The garden was created so the community could grow their own local food but Mrs Schafer quickly realised "it came as a secondary to the need for social connection".
Hannah McLeod moved to Balgownie in 2022 from Hong Kong and was searching for a way to get involved in the community.
The mother-of-two said both she and her kids have made a lot of new friends at the suburban garden which brings a whole cross-section of the community together.
"You can walk past any time of the day, and there might be a mum and a baby or a dad and a baby, and then next time you walk past there's two old ladies chatting on the bench," Mrs McLeod said.
Hannah McLeod has taken the reigns as president of Bally's Patch after Mrs Schafer moved to Nelson's Bay in 2022.
To support the garden members join for $25 per year and 57 volunteers assist with the day-to-day activities.
On the first Sunday of every month, volunteers gather for their working bee.
If you have a green thumb or would like to know more about the space, get in touch with the volunteers.
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