THIS is the Eaglehawk of Lisa Pola’s dreams. An Eaglehawk where civic garden beds supply the community with fresh vegetables and herbs.
Where a trip to the Star Cinema wouldn’t be complete without leaving with a few spinach leaves, or a wander past the Court House turns into an opportunity for a spot of weeding and a chat with whoever else is hanging out in the garden, too.
Where all the bare nooks and crannies of the township are taken over by edible gardens.
One town in the UK has achieved just this, and has planted – so to speak – a little seed of an idea in this Eaglehawk resident’s mind.
It all started when Lisa, whose family has lived in the Borough for almost three years, recently began writing letters to the editor to this paper.
She started writing about the lack of bus services to the northern end of town, then thought she’d counteract that with some positive thoughts on her new community.
“The response to that letter has been amazing – people have been stopping me at work to talk about it,” she says.
“It was a celebration of how great it is to live out here.”
The letter has been stuck up in the local supermarket and since then others have asked Lisa her ideas on how to further invigorate the community.
“It’s been two months of letter writing and it’s been really interesting to see where it’s going. I feel quite passionate about where it could go,” Lisa says.
Her idea for Eaglehawk is based on the remarkable story of Todmorden, a town in Yorkshire in the UK.
Todmorden and Eaglehawk are similar in many ways. Of a similar size and population, they also share many of the same challenges; high youth unemployment and, despite a mix of affluent homes, working families and social housing, they have a low socio-economic reputation that has been a barrier to development.
Now, thanks to the Incredible Edible Todmorden project, tourists come from all over the world to see the town – the most high profile being Prince Charles last year.
“According to local police stats the level of vandalism has dropped following the establishment of Incredible Edible in the town,” Lisa says.
She knows all this because she has made contact with some of the Incredible Edible founders, who’ve invited representatives from Eaglehawk to visit the UK and learn how this was achieved.
“They feel an affinity with Eaglehawk, they said, ‘that sounds like our town’,” Lisa says.
In Todmorden today the residents of all demographics, young and old, work together to tend the gardens around town, and share in the bounty.
People help themselves to sweet corn growing around the police station and to apples and pears growing around the health centre.
Grieving families who want a rose bush at the graveyard are encouraged to think productively – in one case leading to a remembrance garden of broccoli.
“It would be great to see an Incredible Edible food project here, where the goodwill is given for people to plant food in the unloved spaces,” Lisa says.
She says her family spent three years on their owner builder project before permanently moving to Eaglehawk.
Many people questioned why she’d chosen to invest so heavily this side of town.
“We got here and we loved it,” she says.
“The Eaglehawk experience has been so positive. We really love Eaglehawk, it’s just a little bit misunderstood. People from outside of Eaglehawk don’t get it.
“There’s a whole community here ready to be embraced by greater Bendigo and I don’t think they are embracing it.”
Lisa says Incredible Edible Eaglehawk is just an idea, and she’d like to see what other residents think of it.
The good people of Todmorden have made her a logo to kick start some enthusiasm for the idea.
“I’ve got it as my screen saver at home, I look at it and I dream of it,” she says.
Write your own letter to the editor in support of Lisa’s idea, or comment below.
For more information on Todmordon, visit