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Autumn 2016 Newsletter

The Gardening Bug

When Susan Christie moved into the Housing NSW Oakley Gardens Seniors Complex at Thornleigh, she was invited to join the recently formed Garden Club. Susan said that she wasn’t really into gardening but she would give it a go. She soon caught the gardening bug and has even overcome her fear of worms. Susan says she  really appreciates the worm juice produced by the worm farm — she can see how much good it does the plants. 

Susan has made it her project to read up as much as she can about gardening and the different plants and their needs. Companion planting is her current area of research. She says that she has been inspired by the workshops conducted by Elizabeth Docking from Community Greening, so much so that she has invited a friend from outside the complex to come along to the sessions. This provides a great opportunity for both socialising and learning.

Susan says through the community garden she has established some valuable friendships with her neighbours that have helped her settle into her new home.

Story submitted by Jan Crocker, resident and garden member of Oakley Gardens.

Have you discovered adult colour ins?

It is not unusual for the Community Greening team to see parents and grandparents at community events sitting down with their children and colouring in a child-themed picture. It’s just not children, however, who enjoy and benefit from colouring-in.

Adult colouring is a simple way of aiming to restore a sense of balance, confidence and relaxation in your life.

Mindfully focusing on one task, working with your hands and taking a breather from all things digital are just a few of the ways this new form of art therapy helps achieve so many positive effects.

Colouring-in can act as a reset button for adults who are moving too quickly from one responsibility to the next, or trying to do too many things at once. The repetitive motion of colouring can be meditative — you’re giving your brain some ‘space’ and something to focus on that’s calming.

The benefits of colouring books are now being recognised far and wide. For example, a prison recently requested a batch for inmates who use them for therapy and stress release, and recovering surgery patients are using colouring-in as a way to rest.

So, when you need to take a break from gardening why not consider some adult colouring-in? Maybe choose a page with a garden theme just like our Illawarra gardening friends, whose creative flair is pictured on the left.

Community Greening Growing Friends

The Growing Friends who volunteer at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney are very generous when it comes to the Community Greening program. It is not unusual to receive trays of begonias or some other special plants that

are excess to the nursery’s needs or a bit ‘long in the tooth’ and in need of some tender loving care. We quickly share these with our community gardeners and community nurseries. We really appreciate that Growing Friends thinks of Community Greening because it allows us to spoil our grateful gardeners!

This year Growing Friends kindly grew trays of heirloom tomatoes for the Community Greening team to share. Plants with labels such as ‘Green Zebra’, ‘Tigerella’, ‘Jaune Flamme’ and ‘Black Grape’ tempted gardeners with visions of exciting summer salads. Don’t forget gardeners — you can save the seeds of heirloom tomatoes, ready for sowing again in August.

Some of our gardeners are already sharing seed via our ‘Greening and Growing Together’ newsletter.

Angie from Bidwill Community Garden is a very keen vegetable gardener and cook, and much of what she grows — including her snake beans — finds its way into delightful Italian-inspired dishes.

The Bidwill Community Garden had great success with their snake bean crop last summer and Elizabeth from Community Greening saved some seed to share with others.

Sandra from Soldiers Settlement Community Garden in Matraville (pictured), was just one of the lucky recipients and as you can see, Sandra has a very green thumb!

Read the full article and snake bean recipe.

Daniel's Balcony of Bliss

When Elizabeth from Community Greening visited the Illawarra region in early January, it was hard to pick who was the most excited — the gardeners about to choose their heirloom tomato plants and seedlings followed by an activity

of colouring-in garden-themed sheets or Elizabeth, who had been invited to see local resident Daniel’s balcony garden.

What Elizabeth saw could only be described as ‘Balcony Bliss’ — one of the best balcony gardens she has ever seen!

Daniel has a background in floristry and it was obvious that he has the talent to create a small scale garden that considers all the assets and challenges of a first-floor sunny site. The balcony features include two vertical pallet gardens that have a
range of flowers, herbs and vegetables, plus adornments that really make the space visually appealing.

Daniel explained that some of the special items were found in cheap shops or were gifts from thrifty friends who knew Daniel would make the gift shine in his garden. Some plants that others would overlook as being destined for the compost heap, Daniel has nurtured back to perfect health.

Well done Daniel. You are an inspiration to all balcony gardeners!

National Close The Gap Day

'Close the Gap Day’ is a day to take meaningful action in support  of achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030. Events range from workplace morning teas, to sports days, school events and public events in hospitals and offices around the country. Anyone can take part and make a difference. 

It is a great way to bring people together and to share information.

According to the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health (2014), improvements to nutrition will make a huge difference in closing the gap. So maybe a Community Garden can be part of the solution to closing the gap?

This year Community Greening was on hand to support a local resident- lead Community Greening project as part of the Redfern REDLINK Close the Gap Day celebrations.

Local residents had cleared out the Poets Corner local shop garden beds and new compost was added to boost the poor soil — ready for new plantings of Warrigal Greens and colourful sweet peas (and being St Patrick’s Day it was the ideal time to plant the latter). Decorative and symbolic ‘pledge hands’ were also put into the gardens to represent our commitment to close the gap and care for the garden.

It was great to see locals from Poets Corner Community Garden and Mckell common area garden projects also involved. Hopefully this will be an informal community growing space with few rules, many flowers and some healthy herbs and bush tucker.

REDLINK arranged a full day of activities with a local band, interactive traditional dance workshops provided by Terry and an informative session with Aunty Min about ‘Close the Gap’. Perhaps your community group can arrange something for next year?

Autumn Gardening Tips

Get the expert advice on how to prepare, prune, tidy, protect and grow your garden during Autumn here

Seniors enjoy ‘Growing Young’

The 2016 NSW Seniors Festival theme was ‘Grow Young’ and was about celebrating our seniors for their energy, experience and unique ability to know who they are and what makes them happy.

As part of the Festival, a fun-filled and inspiring event was held at a Housing NSW Seniors complex in Balleny Place Tregear on Friday 18 March.

Organised by the Bidwill Community Garden volunteers, Community Greening and Bidwill Uniting, the event was funded through a grant from Family and Community Services.

The organisers were keen to promote the message that no matter what your age, it’s never too late to grow, learn, laugh and be inspired. Participants had the opportunity to create hanging baskets with healthy edibles, with directions from Elizabeth Docking from Community Greening. The tops and sides of the sphagnum moss baskets were planted with mint, apple mint, arthritis herb, lemon balm, strawberries and nasturtiums, all of which can be nipped for eating or added to drinks.

Sandra Pereira is a resident of the Tregear senior’s complex, and with the help of community development worker Cathy Birchall she has transformed an overgrown space into a visual oasis in which  to grow healthy food, relax and socialise with fellow residents. Sandra shared stories of how the garden evolved and has assisted in bringing residents together in an attractive community environment.

Blacktown Seniors Choir ‘Simply Voices’ delighted the seniors group with their singing. This is a voluntary group that meets every Monday afternoon from 1 pm - 4.30 pm in Blacktown City. The energy and enthusiasm of the choir lifted the room as they sang some Aussie favourites, popular hits and folk songs from around the world.

A definite crowd pleaser was the group singalong with actions.

The day was rounded off with sharing an appetizing home-prepared meal, games and lucky draw prizes. As one resident walked towards home with the aid of her frame she said to organisers ‘I’ve had the loveliest day. It just went too fast’.

The Seniors Festival ran from 1-10 April 2016.

Community Greening is a partnership program of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and Housing New South Wales. Youth Community Greening is made possible with generous financial assistance from the Eden Foundation.