Image for The Smell From The Swell Becomes a Communal Solution

Concomitant with the big easterly swells there are the all-pervading Tassie eastern seaboard smells … that many call the dump.

Rotting sea-weed, beyond a metre high in spots and in profusion along miles and miles of beachfront, this regular dump has become a contentious subject between the citizenry of Swansea and the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council.

And as regular as comes the dump, comes the grump. The Great Oyster Bay Community News demanding that council break with antediluvian policy and spare the township of Swansea the summer offensive sea-borne Offensive that drives visitors away and threatens business.

I think there’s a 300kg limit to what can be taken by ratepayers without a permit and fee but in Orford and Swansea where the problem is most prevalent, whose counting forkfuls of weed?

Perhaps a tonne or two finds its way into home gardens but tens of thousands of tonnes remain to rot and stink and raise the regular ire of the citizenry … to do something about it!

Well, I guess if you’re out and about in the length and breadth of the community in the sprawling electorate of Glamorgan Spring Bay and you’re having a tilt at the mayor-ship and you’re listening to the people … and you have a background of lifelong innovation, you put it together.

Mix a little innovation with a seasonal stinky-beach problem and the pressing conundrum of an ageing community … and you’ve got the perfect solution to both problems.

Communal organics.

Gardens that is.

Little miracle plots where the staple diet of mankind, fruit and veg, are tended by the entire community. The concept is as old as feudalism, is trending to enormity in some countries … but not here.

But what is here ... in our own back yard, beaches, that is, is the best-ever mulch, soil-conditioner ... by the tonne ... and free.

Mike Kent has put communal-plot farming as a priority plank in his campaign for mayor. As stated before on the Tas Times, he retired to smell the roses, got stung by the community insult of Bertrand the Bee and the other offending stink … the smell from the swell.

It has become part of his positive-thinking mantra ‘out of adversity comes opportunity’.

The concept of community gardens, while commonplace throughout the Western world, as stated, is not so common in Tasmania. But a local doctor on Tassie’s East Coast has been keen to promote communal gardening to our ageing community.

Common gardens or allotments are inherent in English life; Denmark’s tally has grown from 20,000 to 62,000 in the past century and Germans attend 1.4 million.

The idea in Malta too has taken off with governments encouraging young people to interact with its ageing population and help tend community allotments.

For Dickensian reasons I can’t name the GP who from the time he set up practice in this region, who says its time for Tassie too, to help address changing demographic dynamics ... and get gardening.

He even had the idea of making available spare land on his small acreage to introduce the concept.

People are becoming more isolated by age, through partner loss, lack of agility and the upkeep of a home garden being just too daunting for many.

With the concept of community allotments, groups of gardeners take care of a plot, and share in the green booty as well as interact daily as they tend its needs.

Cursory research into global community gardens attest to their popularity as a growing social trend with manifest benefits in health, interaction, diet…and even to the point where big food chains worry about their impact at the checkout.

And this will happen in Tasmania too, predicts Mike Kent, an icon of super-marketing in this State, now retired to what he calls Paradise in Orford.

“As people age and the retirement community swells, the gardening demographic will swell. There’ll be more time for gardening and its incumbent social and health benefits and less dollars from their pockets.”

As a mayoral candidate, Kent cottoned on to the good local doctor’s vision of the proliferation of community-gardens and would like to see the East Coast play an influential role in its expansion throughout Tasmania.

Warding off cancer years ago through exercise and diet-change brought Kent into the big picture of the value of fresh produce…and is already suggesting that community grants is part and parcel of the success of the communal garden concept in countries where they flourish.

He says the past decade has brought many social changes to the region, his retirement sparkling-beached Utopia.

“Community gardening is the answer to the new social dynamic. It can bring old friends together, to shared garden-plots where once they cherished their own back yard gardens.”

“The social benefits are enormous. If elected, I will be giving this concept priority, and will be making inquiries as to establishment grants from all tiers of government.”

“If we tick the right boxes we can give the community greater access to haul the offending seaweed to private, commercial and communal plots.”

“Get rid of it from the beaches for the greater good. That’s of the people, for the people by the people stuff and that’s what good local governance should be about.”

“The proliferation of communal gardens will break new ground in social and political dynamics in Tasmania. It’s a grass-roots concept that should be exploited without delay and I’d like to, play my part in kick-starting it.”