Broadcaster and gardening guru Michael Keelan joined participants of Lutheran Care’s new Community Garden program and other green-thumbed enthusiasts at a launch event on Wednesday 21 September.
The Community Garden, funded by Wellbeing SA and in partnership with City of Playford, is for City of Playford residents living with chronic illness.
Based at Playford Uniting Church, Munno Para, the garden will be an opportunity for participants to network with likeminded people, learn and share gardening skills and knowledge, grow and share food and try new recipes.
Overseen by Lutheran Care’s Janice Tsimiklis, the project recognises the health and wellbeing benefits of keeping active and connected in nature.
Also attending were special guests City of Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty and Lutheran Care’s Executive Manager Development and Quality, Pippa Webb, as well as Community Garden participants and interested gardeners from the local community.
Michael discussed the health, wellbeing and social benefits of gardening and encouraged everyone to grow their own food.
“Gardening is the best health potion in the world,” he said.
“A garden can go a long way to helping people to enjoy life more.”
Many Australians are embracing gardening, he said. Prior to the pandemic, there were three million gardeners in Australia. Families and individuals spending more time at home in lockdown has caused an explosion in gardening.
“Nurseries basically ran out of product after a year [of the pandemic],” he explained.
According to Michael, current figures indicate there are now eight million Australian gardeners. He said there is “no excuse” not to have a garden, as a garden can be as minimal as a pot of parsley, a pot plant or hanging plant or an old boot with some soil in it.
“Enjoy your garden no matter how big or small it is,” he said. “There’s no shame in having a small garden.”
His top gardening tips included spending time carefully considering the location of your garden, only growing seasonal crops that you will eat, preparing your soil, training your plants laterally (encourage them to stretch out horizontally) to increase your yield, harvesting regularly, and with the continuing challenge of climate change, consider providing temporary shade.
He said now’s the time to plant your tomatoes for a Christmas crop, cucumbers, radishes and beans – broad beans could be a touch too late but you can try your luck!
Organisers thanked Michael Keelan and Mayor Docherty, as well as the Uniting Church community for sharing its land for the project and its support, and everyone who went along.
The Community Garden, at Playford Uniting Church (corner of Curtis Road and Douglas Drive, Munno Para), is open Wednesdays 1.30pm-3pm. To register interest in getting involved, City of Playford residents can contact Janice via 0439 998 163.