Permaculture Hawkesbury Valley community garden gets new education cottage

Local bartering community Veggie Barter Australia has a brand new education cottage for members to use thanks to the generous folks at three local businesses.

The building, which will house sustainable and self-sufficient resources for use by the veggie barter community garden members, was donated by Australian Modular Buildings, with transportation to the group's site at Wilberforce supplied for free by Blueline Transport, MMM Logistics and Wescranes.

McGraths Hill resident Kirsty Berte, founder of Veggie Barter Australia, said the education cottage was a "dream coming to reality" for her in establishing the group's permaculture garden at Australiana Pioneer Village.

The donated building will house the group's sewing station to make and mend clothes, home canning and dehydrating stations to preserve food, a full commercial kitchen to make preserves to sell at markets, and a sustainable living and gardening library.

Ms Berte said it would also provide "a social space to interact with others and an education space where we will teach sustainable living practices, like home canning, fermenting, sourdough baking, permaculture practices, food growing and sewing".

"Our education cottage will also provide a space for our veggie barter trade meets and be the hub of the community garden," she said.

Veggie Barter Australia runs the Hawkesbury Veggie Barter community group on Facebook, which has grown to over 1,100 members since its inception two years ago.

Group members grow their own crops and trade or barter their surplus via the Facebook page.

Ms Berte said no money changes hands with the group; members simply grow what they can at home, and if they have any excess they post a notice up on the page and trade it privately.

There are also monthly meets where people bring their harvest and trade with others, market stall-style.

The group secured the Pioneer Village plot - a fenced in acre of prime gardening land - for its permaculture community garden late last year, and celebrity gardener Costa Georgiadis visited the location to turn the first sod.

The group has since registered as a not-for-profit association under the community garden's official title, Permaculture Hawkesbury Valley Inc.

"One of our biggest goals for our Permaculture Community Garden was to establish an education cottage in our garden," said Ms Berte.

She thanked the individuals and local businesses involved in donating the cottage and installing it.

"What an amazing bunch of local Hawkesbury people and businesses, we are so excited, thankful and grateful," she said.

"Now the task of fitting-out our education cottage and and watching the community enjoy and use all it will offer."