FLOURISHING fruit will be protected from scavenging birds at the Old Mount Gambier Gaol Community Garden using a new net canopy.
A $3000 Open Garden SA community grant will help the not-for-profit organisation construct the canopy over the garden’s orchard, minimising damage to fruit caused by birds.
Established over a decade ago, the community garden – located on the Old Gaol site’s southern border – can house up to 46 plots, with 29 sites currently active.
Garden maintenance coordinator Sue McPherson said the $3000 funding injection was critical to progress the project.
“We would not have been able to implement this strategy without the grant,” she said.
“This has been an ongoing problem and we lose all the fruit if we do not have netting.
“We usually have to redo the netting each season and battle with rips from overgrown branches which is not cheap.”
Ms McPherson said the grant would cover around half the project cost, with the community garden group covering the remainder.
Combining friendship, inclusiveness and belonging with a love of the outdoors, the group’s membership coordinator Gael Ford said the garden is a vital part of the community.
“We have all walks of life from young to old involved here including cultural groups from Zambia, Congo and China,” she said.
“The insight into different cultures is very eye-opening for us as we have never had the opportunity of exposure.
“There is one family growing peanuts and although I knew they grew in the ground, when they pull them out it is fascinating.”
Ms Ford said growing produce was a way of life in African culture.
“The African community is familiar with growing their own food so this allows them to continue doing so,” she said.
“They may not have enough room at home to have a garden so they are able to come here and grow food unable to be purchased at a supermarket.
“It also welcomes them into Mount Gambier and helps them to understand Australian culture.”
Ms McPherson said disability groups, support services and rehabilitation centres use the garden as a resourceful tool.
“We are looking further into giving vegetables and fruit to organisations including Foodbank, Sunset Community Kitchen, school communities and breakfast clubs,” she said.
“We say it carefully as it all depends on what we can actually provide during the season.”
Open Garden SA selector Taffy Burchell said the garden was a worthy winner of the grant.
“I think it is fantastic we are able to provide support for such a rewarding organisation in Mount Gambier,” she said.
“We were particularly thrilled because we are helping many South East locals.
“It is just that little bit better when it is your hometown.”
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to become a plot holder or find out more information about the garden.