The Croxton Commons
In 1649, in response to government disharmony and infighting, Gerrard Winstanley and a group of local residents began to plant vegetables in common land on Saint George’s Hill, in Surrey. This coincided with a time when food prices had reached an all time high and the government was showing inability to respond to the needs of the citizenry. Winstanley invited all to “come in and help them, and promise them meat, drink, and clothes” and thus the original diggers were born.
We may not be in the 1600’s but our current situation feels remarkably similar. It is becoming blatantly clear that governments of all stripes are struggling to keep up with both the pace and the scale of the changes that will be required for the future. With peak oil either here or nearby and a rapidly changing climate it is also highly likely that our food systems will be disrupted to at least some extent. Back yard agriculture can take up a great deal of the slack but we need more to grow the things that either can’t be grown in small spaces or are inefficient in a private context.
We need to reclaim the commons!
In times gone by commons were shared public spaces that were held for the public good. Whether it was a place that goats and cows could graze or a grove of nut trees that would be harvested by the whole village, the common filled the gaps of food production and also provided a focal point for the community. The Croxton Common is envisaged as just such a place (though maybe without the cows!). But we know that waiting until such a place is required will make it ten years too late we have to start now! This is why Transition Darebin is mobilising and inviting all residents and citizens of Darebin and beyond to get involved with the Croxton Commons, the development of the land surrounding Croxton Railway station (an coincidently on a hill near St. Georges Road).
But what will it look like?
Exactly what the Croxton Commons becomes will depend on the will and the energy of the people attached to it. But the aim is for it to include urban fruit and nut orchards, community and enterprise spaces, recreation areas and social focused spaces. It will be a truly multi-use space that will aim not to reduce the current amenity of the area but add to it through careful design and inclusive forward planning. It will also make use of the most efficient form of transport (the train line) to promote hubs for food sharing, markets and maybe even tool and skill sharing.
This is a project that has been in the wings for some time but thanks to some help from Victrack and Darebin Council we have finally got to a stage where the real planning and working can begin. That’s why we’re putting out the call for thinkers, designers, doers and coordinators; for permies, horti’s, gardeners, handypeople and local folk; for anyone who wants to chip in and help bring this plan to fruition.
We’re kicking off by teaming up with local community garden Our Apple Tree to have a ‘Clean up Australia Day’ event. We’ll be meeting at Our Apple Tree (corner Herbert Street and Beavers Road) at 10am and then walking (and cleaning) up through the Commons finishing at Spencer Reserve, our first site for a barbecue (12:00-1:00). If you can’t make this event but want to be part of the Croxton Commons Group then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.