Published on 08 October 2021
New leaf for local park
A community revegetation program is reviving a Darlington reserve.
A group of passionate Darlington residents are working to refresh Godfrey Street Reserve from a dry and dusty landscape into an inviting nature hub.
The group has received on-ground help, advice and grant funding from council to improve the natural areas and amenities at the reserve. Council has committed $100,000 to upgrade the playground, with residents engaged on design elements.
Tash Howard and her husband, Jimmy, moved to Darlington in 2006 and started their family in 2010. The Howards have been visiting Godfrey Street Reserve nearly every day since their children were little. They could see its potential as a vegetation site to enhance biodiversity.
“The reserve is a great spot, with the most amazing views overlooking the city to the ocean and around to the Adelaide Hills, but it has been undervalued for a long time. I knew we could do something to improve it,” Tash says.
Tash put forward a proposal to City of Onkaparinga Pimpala Ward councillors Sandra Brown and Michael O’Brien about greening the reserve. Within weeks, unaware of Tash’s plans, fellow Darlington resident Claire Bowmer submitted a similar proposal to council.
“I recently moved to Darlington with my family. It’s a lovely area, but it’s surrounded by big main roads and a lot of concrete. I discovered Godfrey Street Reserve on a walk one day with my little girl in the pram and could immediately see its potential to be a beautiful green space to sit quietly in the shade and enjoy being among nature,” Claire says.
Council’s Senior Nature Conservation Officer Ben Moulton put Tash and Claire in touch with Community Conservation Officer Leanne Lawrence, who assisted in bringing together other interested members of the community to form a working group. The group was then connected with internal council teams to share ideas for the reserve and develop a plan.
“The working group told council they wanted to create an Indigenous bush tucker garden on the site, complemented by irrigation for the lawn area and a footpath, shelter and new playground equipment. Seeking community engagement and feedback about how they want to use the reserve as a neighbourhood meeting place and quiet sanctuary has been a valuable process for both council and the residents,” Leanne says.
A Public Place Improvement Grant, guided by Neporendi Aboriginal Forum Inc, is helping residents bring their ideas for their park to life. Council’s Cultural Diversity Officer Elijah Bravington collaborated with the working group to choose hardy Indigenous plant species that will withstand the harsh environment of the sun and wind-exposed reserve. Successful planting days were held in August 2020 and June this year. Rocks are also being installed in the Indigenous garden to create informal nature play opportunities for families and add to the habitat for native wildlife.
The working group will capture information about the plants to use as an educational tool for the community about their benefits for both personal use and the home garden.
“It’s great that there’s collaboration among all parties involved in the project. Together, we’re carefully considering the space, rather than plonking something next to something else,” Tash says.
The social aspect of the project is important to both Tash and Claire.
“It’s not just the adults who are enjoying working together on the project—the neighbourhood kids are so passionate about doing something active to improve their patch. They love getting their hands dirty helping with the planting, and they’re excited about having an input into the new playground. Active citizenship and creating a connection to place is so empowering,” Tash says.
Claire agrees, saying “Working on the project is a great way to get to know people in the area.”
Both women are looking forward to seeing the project grow, figuratively and literally.
“It’s amazing what’s possible when council and community work together. The reserve is going to be a great place for current and future generations of the neighbourhood,” Tash says.