News & Events

Edible gardens thriving in Euroa

June 21, 2017

Jessie Mills found it hard when she had to move from her farmhouse into OCAV’s Currie Park village in Euroa in November 2016.  But already a bit of her old life is thriving in the new edible gardens, established at Currie Park, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the John T Reid Charitable Trusts.

“I brought silverbeet seeds in with me from what had grown in my garden on the farm. I planted them as soon as the soil was ready and the time was right and now it is almost ready to pick. I am looking forward to cooking some of it,” Jessie said. “The rhubarb is also looking good and the leeks, carrots and broad beans are doing well.”

Born in Euroa, Jessie spent most of her life on a farm 15km out of town and misses the space and tranquility of farm life. She’s slowly adjusting to life in the village and the vegetable garden is an important part of her maintaining her gardening hobby.  She also keeps a small garden at the front and back of her newly-renovated unit, and is waiting for her African marigolds to flower.

Jessie misses the life on a farm that marks the seasons with the birthing of lambs, the planting and harvesting of crops and the growing of food to eat.  But at 86 with glaucoma, she recognised that living alone on a farm, in a big house, was no longer manageable.

“In the end my beautiful garden was one of the reasons I left the farm. I just couldn’t look after it any longer and I hate to see gardens go to ruin,” she said.

Not that there is a chance of the edible garden at Currie Park going to ruin with a dedicated group of people keen to plant, water and nurture the plants. Some spend a lot of time in the garden and others do what they can, when they can.

Resident Richard Dealy helped break up the soil when the gardens were first established and is on hand for garden work whenever he is needed. While he is not a ‘green thumb’, he thinks the edible garden is a wonderful and healthy addition to life at Currie Park.

“Some people when they get older can be tempted to stay inside too much because everything they want is so close. But the garden is a great motivator and gets people out in the sun, talking to other people and keeping active,” Richard said.

Richard, 75, spent his working life as a chiropractor, 30 of those years in Euroa, and values any opportunity given to residents to keep active. He walks regularly around the garden to see how it is growing and recognises that it is a gathering place for many residents who do regular weeding and other maintenance.

Residents participated in every stage of the garden’s development and wasted no time planting vegetables. Jessie used her farm silverbeet seeds and she hopes residents will pick and use the produce once it is ready. Jessie is a regular at the vegie garden and when she wanders past, she pulls out a stray weed and checks that plants are watered and mulched.

“I think you have to keep going until you can’t go anymore and the garden is a lovely reason to keep moving,” she said.

For Richard, a near death experience after suffering double pneumonia, has made him even more grateful for the beauty around him and that includes the vegetable garden.

“Once you have been close to death it makes you so grateful to be alive and enjoy nature. I reckon I’m into ‘time on’ now and I am making the best of the time I have left. I look out over the Strathbogie Ranges, have a walk around the vegie garden, do what is needed to be done and I feel pretty lucky,” he said.

The 6m by 6m edible garden includes:

·       Eight garden beds raised up to waist height to prevent residents’ stooping or bending unnecessarily.

·       Shade and shelter to ensure residents can garden in all seasons.

·       An integrated overhead watering system with timer.

·       A range of nutritious herbs, fruits and vegetables for residents in independent living units to cook with in their own kitchens, and for the caterers who prepare meals for our assisted living residents to use too.

·       Plants with sensory properties such as bright and textured foliage or distinctive scents for residents with dementia to enjoy.

To capitalise on the new gardens, Residents’ Coordinator Karen Ernest, ran a Health and Nutrition workshop in early June for Currie Park residents.

“I talked about the health benefits of what’s growing in the garden and also encouraged residents to get out and be actively involved in the propogation of the plants and vegetables because they can gain not just healthy food, but sunshine, fresh air, exercise and social interaction,” Karen said.

The workshop covered:

·      Australian Guide to Healthy Eating

·      Why is drinking water important

·      Healthy Eating over 60

·      Breathing Exercises for seniors

·      Health benefits of green leafy vegetables

·      Vegetable garden planting guide

Caption: Currie Park residents pick some of the silverbeet growing in the edible gardens.

 

 

Dorothy Clayton has felt very much ‘at home’ since she moved into Braeside Park nine years ago. Now, Dorothy, the village’s volunteer pastoral care worker, tries to ensure that others also feel a sense of belonging in the Berwick village.

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