Gardening for food, therapy and connection

Publish date: 10 July 2024

Bethanie’s Bert England Lodge in Cooloongup has access to fresh vegetables and herbs all year round, thanks to the initiative and skills of a volunteer, a Therapy Assistant, and a group of residents.


The gardening club meets once a month during the warmer months, usually from spring through summer, to plant seeds, transplant seedlings, tend to the garden and harvest produce.  They also learn more about their gardens and take in all the gardening tips they can.


“Participating in the club helps residents in several ways,” said Therapy Assistant Tanya Huaman who runs the gardening club.


“It provides a sense of community and accomplishment, promotes physical activity, and offers a therapeutic and relaxing environment.


“Additionally, they enjoy the benefits of fresh, homegrown produce and the opportunity to learn new skills.”


The aged care home is lucky enough to have had Volunteer Ian with them for around 15 hours per week, for the past three years.  Ian enabled this pursuit to really take off when he took the near-abandoned infrastructure of the vegetable patch, drained it, filled it with new soil and began the planting.


“My father was a big gardener and we used to help him on the big half acre lot growing up, so I learned about soil and watering and seasonal planting” said Ian. 


“At the moment the garden is full of cabbages, beets, carrots, rhubarb and silverbeet. 


“There is parsley, chillies, sage and thyme too, but we’re thinking about the next season and what to prepare for,” said Ian.


“There will definitely be spring onions – the chefs use them a lot – and we will plant potatoes too I think.”


The chefs use some of the produce direct from the garden.  Other harvests are shared with residents and their families, as well as the staff who particularly love using the hot chillies!


The gardens are a source of pride for the residents who work hard to keep it turning over and enjoy seeing their efforts pay off in produce

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