Every Monday morning a dedicated crew gets to work mowing, raking and gathering produce at the North Ringwood Uniting Church Welcome Community Garden.
The workers from Knoxbrooke Community tend to specialise in different tasks.
For example, Jesse can normally be found busily shredding and aerating the compost as it moves through stages of preparation.
“Jesse just loves working here – that’s his main job turning the soil, you wouldn’t keep him away,” Knoxbrooke disability educator Barry Turner said.
Knoxbrooke Community provides community-based day-training support services to people with a disability.
Mr Turner is a North Ringwood Uniting Church member.
It was suggested to him that Knoxbrooke clients might like to participate in the community garden, which is located behind the church building and supplies produce to the North Ringwood Care foodbank program.
For approximately 10 years Knoxbrooke gardening teams have been coming to North Ringwood to garden and currently there are six regular participants.
The gardeners arrive at 10am, start off with morning tea and then do various supervised tasks until 1pm.
“They quite enjoy doing this and they are also doing something worthwhile for the community,” Mr Turner said.
“Over the years we have had about 20 to 25 participants who have assisted in the garden centre.
“Some of them like getting out in the outdoors, some like to just observe being out in the garden, a lot them also enjoy the community aspect of sitting around having morning tea.
“This has been great collaboration between North Ringwood UC and Knoxbrooke.”
The team also do some mowing and trimming in the neighbouring house over the back fence, which is owned by the church and occupied by asylum seekers.
As chief custodian of the community garden, North Ringwood UC member Joy Harvey oversees each Monday work session.
“It’s great to work with these guys, they are really good,” she said.
Ms Harvey said there was plenty to do year-round, even during the colder months.
“In the wintertime we’ve still got silverbeet, broccoli, cabbage cauliflower, spring onions and snow peas,” Ms Harvey said.
“In the summertime our barrow is full once a week with vegetables – tomatoes, onions, potatoes, silver beet, lettuce and garlic.
“In springtime we propagate our own vegetables, we grow from seed and we have our little greenhouse up here.
“Sometimes when we have excess seedlings we sell them to the congregation or we often have little fetes or garage sales and we sell our produce there.”
Regular Monday morning volunteer Peter Moskovic is not a North Ringwood member but became involved with the garden three years ago through his wife who attends the church.
“I think what they do here is fantastic, the outreach is fantastic so I am happy to come along half a day a week to help,” he said.
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