It may just be a lettuce to some, but to Yvonne Mallory growing produce in the Seachange Toowoomba community garden provides a way to share knowledge, recipes and start friendships. Coming from apartment life, Yvonne hasn’t had her own garden in over six years. Once she moved into Seachange she found joining the gardening club a source a great joy. “I used to love gardening out in the sun with all the fresh air and it feels great to get my hands dirty again, but my favourite part by far is seeing people enjoy the produce we grow,” she said.
The gardening club meets every Monday at the residential community garden, but is open for picking every day of the week. Many donate a gold coin for the produce they pick to maintain their fresh food source, and as the seasons change, so do the options available. “Currently we have a winter garden of broccoli, cauliflower, peas and more but it has been a learning experience for me as I am from North Queensland and actually had to ask the other gardeners ‘what about the frost?’,” she said.
Although the options in the garden change, one of Yvonne’s most cherished vegetables is the thriving silverbeet. “I particularly like the silverbeet as it is one of the first things planted in the garden,” she said. “Interestingly it has grown so large because no one has been picking the leaves for meals.” This led to Yvonne finding some tasty recipes to utilise the abundant leaves, and she has even made a recipe book that everyone can view in the club house. “It’s since become a hit amongst the residents, same as our Japanese turnips.”
“We found that there were many single people who would only be cooking for themselves, so we started cutting the pumpkins in quarters and cabbages in halves. This also made sure that everyone could get the fresh produce and the joy of a returned patron makes it so worthwhile.” Not only is the community garden growing a connection between the club members; all the residents who pick from the garden have the opportunity to try new foods and share recipes amongst themselves as well.
The next planned project is to grow citrus trees so limes, lemons and oranges can be shared. “One of our new residents had citrus trees on his previous property, so we plan to work with him to bring citrus to our community.” The sweet taste of success for all at Seachange Toowoomba.