Bringing our verges to life

Bringing our verges to life

Have you ever thought about the patches of grass and dirt lining roads and footpaths? Well GroundSwell have. This non-for-profit environmental group saw the opportunity to transform these once barren areas to beautiful gardens for their neighbours to enjoy. GroundSwell’s mission is to give back to their community and celebrate nature, one verge garden at a time.

GroundSwell brings nature back to suburban streets.

The GroundSwell Team

GroundSwell is an environmental group, based in Largs Bay, Adelaide. Simon Forrest, founder of the group, created his own verge garden in his neighbourhood a few years ago. This created a ripple effect in his neighbourhood, with GroundSwell members, Alex and Brooke, following his example. They loved the concept so much that they wanted to share it with their community, resulting in the formation of GroundSwell.

GroundSwell’s verge garden initiative has coloured the streets of Largs Bay and beyond. The gardens have transformed the dull spaces between public footpaths and roads to beautifully diverse gardens. The team does everything; marking and digging up the verge, putting down edging, irrigation systems, adding soil and mulch and planting seedlings. GroundSwell is entirely volunteer- run, with grants from the Port Adelaide Enfield Council covering the costs of materials.

Their work has sky-rocketed in the past two years, with over fifty applications in 2020 from locals requesting their service. Only the top 14 applications could be accepted due to the small team’s limited capacity. As of October 2020, GroundSwell have completed 22 verge gardens and will have completed 28 by the end of the year. The gardens bring vibrancy to neighbourhoods and allow the community to share their love of nature.

Simon, founder of GroundSwell, setting up an irrigation system.

For the community

GroundSwell’s work is driven by their desire to bring the community closer together, promote environmental sustainability and health and wellbeing. The team have committed to creating vibrant herb gardens in the community this spring to encourage food sharing and allow neighbours to connect with one another. GroundSwell has received an incredibly positive community response, with participants valuing the social connections and environmental benefits the gardens produce. The initiative starts conversations, encourages food sharing and promotes education on local food security. The gardens have brought people outdoors and have strengthened connections between neighbours and nature.

Before and after: A verge in Sempahore transformed into a new herb garden!

The group is already running at maximum capacity, with many verge garden applications on the wait list for next year. Maybe you could take inspiration from these volunteers and create your own verge garden? The volunteers also organise beach clean up to protect the local costal environment. These will take place over the summer, follow GroundSwell on Facebook to stay up to date and join their clean up efforts!

The benefits of verge gardens

GroundSwell’s work contributes towards beautiful and healthy environments and is a great starting point to reversing some of the negative impacts of urbanisation.

GroundSwell have been focusing on herb gardens this spring to encourage neighbourhood food sharing. However, you can plant a variety of different plants. You could create a butterfly garden to support the Bringing Back the Butterflies (BBB) project, find more information on this project, here. Growing native plants is also a great idea as it can enhance local biodiversity.

Have a look at the local native plant guide developed by PEC volunteers.

A local verge garden, completed in October 2020.

Listed below are a range of incredible benefits which  verge gardens offer.

  • Restoring ecosystem health
  • Providing habitat for local fauna
  • Increasing local biodiversity and ecosystem connectivity
  • Alleviating urban-induced heat and air pollution
  • Enhancing connections between humans and nature
  • Creating awareness of local food systems and food security
  • Sparking positive environmental conversations

Build your own happy place

So what are you waiting for? There are so many excellent reasons to invest in a verge garden! It not only helps to beautify your street but can enhance the local environment and community. The City of Port Adelaide Enfield has a range of valuable documents to assist in creating your own verge garden for those residing within the council area.

The Verge Development Guidelines, available here, provide everything you need to know about design considerations, irrigation, construction and maintenance, key responsibilities and how to acquire council authorisation. It also provides an example of how your verge garden could look.

To receive council approval and begin your garden, you can submit an Application for Verge Development to the City of Port Adelaide Enfield.  The form can be found here.

Support GroundSwell

As 2020 draws to a close, we should praise the efforts of those trying to make the world a better place. GroundSwell’s positive actions are making their community more vibrant, sustainable and welcoming.  Hopefully you are inspired to create your own verge garden or do something small to better your community. Don’t forger, every effort counts!

To follow GroundSwell’s progress and future endeavours, give them a ‘Like’ on Facebook.

Happy Gardening!

Thank you  to GroundSwell for their contributions and service to the community. All images courtesy of GroundSwell Community Group.

Never too narrow! A beautiful verge garden, adding colour to a tight space.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. ‘Great profile of brilliant initiative to re-value our shared assets – the footpath! Would love to see some trees incorporated sometimes for the additional benefits of shading our streets and walkways.’

    1. Thanks for the feedback Tim! GroundSwell truly is doing great work for our local community. I agree, trees are an excellent addition to the footpath and help to alleviate the effects of urban heat. What a wonderful idea, I would be ecstatic to see some fig trees popping up in the neighbourhood!

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