The land where the garden now grows was once owned by a wonderful gardener named Catherine Crofts, and her family. [Later the land became part of W.A. Department of Education property.] The building on the site is named after the old 'group settlement house' that the family had lived in during the 1920′s and 30′s. Katherine’s inspiration and love of plants is still reflected today throughout the Organic Garden.
The garden was started in 1988, by the Margaret River Alternative Technology Centre to be used as a place of education, to encourage local families to grow their own vegetables, herbs and flowers in an environmentally friendly manner.
The gardens have matured into a beautiful if somewhat rambling oasis in the heart of the town. All the plants have been gifted or acquired by generous donations from the community and the garden planted and tended by mostly local people. The object of the garden is not to be a showcase but rather a space where adults and chilren are encouraged to meditate, sing, paint or rest and listen to the birdsong.
[To enlarge - click on map]
The Organic Garden building (Mansfield House) was constructed in 1993. It was designed by an artist and built from recycled materials by a local environmental scientist and volunteers. Many workshops have been held here, such as energy efficiency, composting and appropriate building techniques including the straw bale method. The benefits felt at these community forums has positively impacted upon our community approach to group ownership, energy efficient design, and low cost building. Mannsfield House is currently used for a wide variety of community meetings and fund raisers.
The Organic Garden has sponsored many employment programs over the years. One of these programs enabled two artists to work in and around the garden and buildings creating organically designed furniture and sculptures which have enhanced the magical ambience of the space. Walking around the gardens, visitors could come across straw bale sculptures and brightly coloured painted wooden seats and painted sculptures. Another highlight of note, was a Steiner School production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which took place in the amphitheatre on a warm, December night.
Today, The Organic Garden continues to thrive. It is a beautiful venue for The Wishing Star Playgroup. The Margaret River Senior High School uses it for photography, film making and drama. Margaret River Education Campus often uses the garden for their projects for students in their Art and Photography classes and/or their Horticulture projects.
Locals and tourists continue to enjoy its many facets and the gift of pleasure it provides on each and every day.