Edible gardening changing lives

16 May 2014

Date posted: 19 June 2014

Matt Taylor, 23, has worked for disability services organisation Barkuma in a number of different roles over the past five years. Each role has taught him valuable skills and provided him with new opportunities. Today he is doing his favourite job - managing the Holden Hill site garden area.

When the SA Government’s Department for Communities and Social Inclusion referred Barkuma to the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide’s Kitchen Garden program, they were keen take part. In late 2013, the Holden Hill site added a number of planter-boxes as a part of their Green Thumbs greening and inclusion initiative with the support of the Kitchen Garden Program.

Kitchen Garden Project Coordinator Jo Staniforth provided the information, tools and advice needed to successfully establish an edible garden at Holden Hill. This has given Matt and his colleagues the opportunity to work outdoors while learning basic horticultural skills.

“Thanks to the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, the program has enabled my colleagues and I to set up a vegetable garden,” said Matt.

“We’ve set up our planter beds in the right environment, with the right soils, and appropriate drainage. We know how to grow plants from seeds, what and when to plant and how to water and how to maintain the plants.”

“With all these skills, we’ve now successfully grown tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, basil, oregano and thyme. We’ve just started to replant our planters with winter veggies.”

The Barkuma team have been utilising the vegetables and herbs in their cooking program.

To Matt, Barkuma’s Kitchen Garden has provided him with the skills and confidence to manage a garden.

“The biggest outcome has been the increased interest in gardening and how to grow your own veggies. I have learnt so much and feel confident that I could mentor others to develop an appreciation for gardening and the skills needed to garden successfully at home.”

Matt recognises the value in edible gardening; how it is a healthy option for families and has the potential to save people a lot of money.

Since the success of the Green Thumbs program, Matt has formed a Gardening Committee to expand the program across Barkuma sites.

“I feel very proud about what we have achieved and encouraging others to get outside and have a go. It is important for people to become a little more self-sufficient and to eat healthy.”

The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide’s Kitchen Garden program has helped thousands of people like Matt develop their gardening knowledge and skills. The power of the program in improving people’s diets and physical activity as well as encouraging social inclusion should not be underestimated.

With your support, Adelaide Botanic Garden can build a Kitchen Garden to showcase to all South Australians the benefits of edible gardening. To find out you can support our Kitchen Garden program, visit abgf.org or call 08 8222 9347.

The Kitchen Garden Program is proudly supported by Santos.

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