UnitingCare Tasmania and the Brighton Council, in the state’s south, have joined forces to educate struggling families on the nutritional benefits of fresh food as well as help them develop the skills to grow their own produce.
The innovative partnership – which is also supported by a six-month Work for the Dole project – will see community gardens developed on council land adjacent to UnitingCare’s facilities at Old Beach and Gagebrook.
Work for the Dole participants are undertaking the initial planting, with fruit trees and vegetable patches taking shape at Old Beach before they move onto Gagebrook.
Once up and running, community members can participate in the program. It will supplement the fresh food currently available through UnitingCare’s emergency food relief program, which is supported by Second Bite. Second Bite redistributes surplus fresh food from businesses to community food programs throughout Australia.
UnitingCare Tasmania CEO Lindy O’Neill said she was excited by the prospect of seeing local residents getting their hands dirty by growing their own food and having the opportunity to learn how to prepare it.
“Many of the people we work with not only do not know how to grow food but have never leant how to prepare it,” Ms O’Neill said.
“Fresh food is important in the diet of young people for things such as brain development and, early in life, fresh food can give children the best chance at a fulfilling future.”
Ms O’Neill said another benefit was the therapeutic value associated with gardening, as well as the opportunity for families to work together on their own patch.
The project would also provide valuable skills for the Work for the Dole participants as they prepare themselves for the workforce.
Ms O’Neill said UnitingCare Tasmania and the council had developed a long standing relationship over the last two decades aimed at supporting struggling families in the region.
“The council is committed to assisting us to further develop our services and programs in the region.”
Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said the council was excited by the potential of the initiative.
“Council has built a strong relationship with Uniting Care over the years and we’re very happy to be able to support this latest project,’’ he said.
“Hopefully such skills get taken back to the gardens at people’s homes.
“As well as all the other benefits, the gardens will improve the amenity of a local area.’’