Terry Chescher, Cr Jess Scully, Edwina Morris, Hudson and Lord Mayor Clover Moore launch 12 Fine Oranges. Photo: City of Sydney.

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By JOHN MOYLE

A neglected pocket of land above a car park in Kings Cross is about to get a big injection of love as a small slither is transformed into a community garden.

Called 12 Fine Oranges, the parcel of land in the Lawrence Hargrave Reserve on Ward Avenue has passed the last hurdle of approvals with the City of Sydney and construction of the gardens will begin in early Spring.

“Community gardens give people a practical way to meet each other and build community,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

Ninety eight per cent of Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay residents live in apartment buildings making it one of the most densely populated areas in Australia.

“The group first met in 2015 at a talk by Indira Naidoo at the Community Centre, and after the meeting it was by word of mouth and now we have around 120 people interested,” Terry Chescher, founding member, Kings Cross Community Garden said.

The 230sqm garden’s first stage will be located on the western edge of Lawrence Hargrave Reserve with the 180sqm stage two located at the southern end of the Reserve.

Both stages are designed to integrate with the existing Vietnam Veterans memorial at the south-western corner of the park.

Stage one will consist of seven raised beds and eight large planters for small trees with the produce being available for community use.

“We came up with three guiding principles for the garden, which was community, as we want to give locals a chance to grow and harvest produce and give to charities such as the Wayside Chapel, the second was to use organic gardening principles and the third was to respect the existing uses for the park such as dog walking and integrate with them in using the Reserve,” Edwina Morris project landscape architect said.

Back in 2015 when the group had garnered that interest was strong enough to take the project forward they looked at what in what form its organisation would take.

“We did a workshop and a site analysis and we talked to people about what they wanted and came up with the communal approach rather than individual beds,” Terry Chescher said.

The first stage has a budget of around $100,000 that includes all site work to be carried out by professional workers who will be responsible for levelling the site and laying a membrane to protect the car park underneath, before building up the garden beds and fencing.

The walls will be made of sandstone that will integrate with the stone used in Lawrence Hargrave and the adjacent Fitzroy Gardens.

The City of Sydney has stipulated that no power tools be used during this phase.

To meet the outlay the gardeners have applied to the City of Sydney for a matching grant of $10,000, valuing their time at $20 peer hour against the cash input.

Additional monies will be raised from sponsorships, donations and a small fee applied to each garden club member.

Filling the planters will be an array of root vegetables, berries, salad greens, herbs and fragrances supported by worm farms, compost bins and a tool shed.

A rain water tank is planned for the garden’s second stage.

“One of the benefits of going along with such a long design process is that we have lined everything up and now things can move quite quickly,” Edwina Morris said.

The name 12 Fine Oranges refers to the fruit submitted to the 1870 NSW Horticultural Society’s exhibition and the garden will be built on land and gardens once owned by Henry Moore whose house Barncleuth has given its name to the nearby street and square.

This will be the 21st community garden created by the City of Sydney.