Jane Muller got used to hearing people talk about gardens being abandoned and trees, growing for generations in a family’s backyard, dying because of the drought. The same thing happened to the garden at her workplace, the Granite Belt Support Service Inc. at Stanthorpe in Queensland.
Now, clients at the service are talking about the vegies growing in the raised garden beds, the flowers blooming and the plans for spring plantings. The dams are full and gardens can be tended.
Fourteen residents and workers restored the garden at Granite Belt Support Service, a service centre for people with a disability. During the summer, vegies and strawberries were grown and the food used at the service’s regular cooking classes for residents or taken home to their families.
The garden is an opportunity for life skills to be taught with residents learning about food, nutrition, gardening techniques and the seasons. There’s also a newly established worm farm on site that is looked after in order to nourish the soil. Importantly, the garden allows residents to get outside in good weather and share a common purpose.
“Watching the plants grow into vegetables is such a wonderful experience for the residents who have been affected by the terrible drought and the isolation of COVID-19,” said Jane, who is the respite and day services coordinator at the service.
“The drought was a worrying time for everyone in Stanthorpe and the surrounding farms because our tanks were dry and we ran out of water. For several months water was trucked into the town, and none of it could be used to keep our gardens growing.”
“People would talk about the huge trees in their yards where they had played and climbed as children, dying and needing to be cut down. Drought like this has a real impact on people.”
Residents were part of the garden’s redevelopment from planning, budgeting, constructing the beds, planning what seeds should be planted, watering the gardens and cooking the produce. The raised beds have been built to accommodate any residents using a wheelchair.