Do you have a green thumb, love the outdoors, and enjoy the company of others? Then a retirement village on Victoria's Surf Coast might have the group for you.
Believing that the large communal garden areas could be utilised in a more beneficial way, six residents of the Star of the Sea retirement village at Torquay started a gardening club. The club has now grown to 12 members.
Lesley Stewart, one of the group’s founders said “we look forward to coming together on a Friday morning. We work from 9am to noon, however, this time frame has become elastic with some arriving early and others reluctantly leaving at 1pm. We’re keen!”
New innovations have been introduced, including a large compost heap, which is turned and watered weekly, and an unused shredding machine, which processes the pruning accumulated during the maintenance of the gardens. The resulting product is then spread over garden beds as mulch.
“It is a win-win as very little is sent off site as waste,” says Lesley.
While the orchard, a 2020 winter project, is not yet bearing fruit, the team are optimistic of a crop in a year or two. This is situated on what was under-utilised ground abutting a visitor carpark. But, they are now watching the bush pumpkins form and hoping the tomatoes ripen.
The group’s tea breaks provide ‘fertile ground’ for discussion of new ideas, including the introduction of a seasonal plant stall, offering potted plants for gold coin donation. This effort was well supported by village residents and netted a total of $100 which was matched by the village's operator, VMCH.
Lesley says gardening is a multi-faceted pursuit offering many rewards, particularly in difficult and worrying times.
“Gardening is a great leveller and is accessible in some form to all. A pot of annuals or flowering bulbs, herbs or simply lettuce is an attainable goal. There are challenges, but then there are rewards.”