Enriching Communities: Gardening Australia Visits The SEEDS Communal Garden

Published on
May 14, 2024
In the heart of Milparinka, a transformation has quietly unfolded over the past nine years, sprouting from a humble patch of lawn into the vibrant SEEDS communal garden. The garden has not only bloomed with greenery, but also with connections, allowing individuals living with disabilities to intertwine with local residents through their shared passion for gardening and the simple joy of companionship. The garden has attracted many locals, plenty of pollinators and most recently, Australia’s favourite gardening show: Gardening Australia.

Garden Australia’s presenter Jane Edmanson introduces the episode from the front of the SEEDS garden, showing off an unmissable-bright yellow set of doors.

“It’s a community cupboard and what I love about it, is that it represents everything that lies beyond this fence: Inclusion, generosity and community, and above all, a wonderful garden.”

Under the nurturing guidance of garden manager Jo Townsend, SEEDS enriches the lives of those supported by the service. Twice a week, the garden club gathers, fostering a sense of community as members care for the plants before sharing a ‘cuppa’.

The garden is rooted in a no-dig and permaculture ethos; almost every plant in the garden has multiple uses. The result is a space that embodies sustainability and resourcefulness throughout. The club members weigh and record all the food harvested, and since the garden’s creation, its yield has burgeoned, boasting an annual harvest of around one tonne of food. This harvest is shared amongst the club; however, there is always excess, which is then shared beyond the garden gates to support food relief organisations and stock the community cupboard, offering sustenance to those in need.

Among the garden's recent initiatives lies a transformative addition: an Enrich360 food-waste dehydrator. This efficient machine breathes new life into vegetable scraps, effortlessly converting them into nutrient-rich fertilisers through an 8-10 hour cycle. Already, the impact has been profound, with over 2,000 kilograms of food diverted from landfills since its inception. Embracing a circular approach to sustainability, local businesses contribute to the cycle by donating food waste, while the resulting fertilisers find purpose in nourishing school and community gardens, fostering a holistic ecosystem of giving and growth.

“It’s creating connections and opportunities. So we have people who have set roles to fill the dehydrator and also collect from specific businesses.” says Townsend.

On top of encouraging further connections within the community, the commercial dehydrator at SEEDS can be credited for some fantastic benefits to the environment, too. By diverting food waste from landfill, the Enrich360 machine mitigates harmful methane emissions, reducing the carbon footprint associated with organic waste disposal. Moreover, the fertiliser generated serves as a natural, eco-friendly alternative to chemical-based fertilisers that can be put back into the SEEDS garden, enriching soil health and promoting robust plant growth. 

As the SEEDS communal garden continues to bloom, so do the friendships it fosters within Milparinka, demonstrating the transformative power of shared purpose and nurturing connections. From a barren patch of land to a flourishing oasis, SEEDS stands as a testament to the potential inherent in community-driven initiatives and the enduring legacy of cultivating kindness, one harvest at a time.

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