I've been visiting numerous community gardens in Melbourne and its surrounding towns and the number, diversity and strength of them has been really refreshing.
Over my many years I've been the guest of gardens in New York, Havana, Copenhagen and it has given me the opportunity to reflect on community gardens in Manchester. Periodically, we ask the question: what is it with our community gardens? -they just don't quite cut the mustard.
Don't get me wrong there are some fantastic spaces, people going heroic things and groups who are showing it can be done well.
But a city the size of ours, with all its food and health problems, with a population apparently obsessed with gardening and cooking, why is it that we don't have a community garden on every street corner like many other international cities?
Is it the weather?
Is it adequate provision of allotments?
Is it lack of council support?
Do communities have other priorities?
Do we lack the community spirit of working collectively?
Is it the lack of suitable sites?
Is it our energetic yet transient student population?
We have never come to a definitive answer and there probably isn't one answer and so no one solution to the challenge's urban growers face.
What is clear here in Australia is that Community Gardens have become an integral part of neighbourhoods, a focus for community action and spaces a whole range of people enjoy. It would be fantastic if Manchester could nurture such opportunities too.