What started as a seed of an idea has now bloomed into a thriving community garden at Warrandyte Road Early Learning Centre. Several years ago, Centre Manager Janene Melchior had a plan to start a community garden at the front of their Doncaster East centre.
Janene says, “The plan was not very clear at the start, I just knew I wanted something closer to our kitchen. A place more for herbs and smaller veggies. I knew that I wanted not just our kitchen and children to use and attend the garden but families and the wider community; perhaps beginning with trips to our neighbours with home grown herbs and or seeds and then hopefully the word spreading that people could come and take, plant, offer advice, help and more.”
However, the garden did not come into fruition straight away. In fact, it took a year of planning with the team going into in depth discussions on whether a vertical garden or plants planted in pots would be better, what plants would be planted and how they would go about it.
One day Guardian’s Sustainability Manager, Jan Rajnoch, emailed over a suggestion of a product called Hubz. Janene knew right away that these were exactly what they were after for their community garden. Janene ordered these as well as some seedling pots and potting tables but due to time getting away from them, the Hubz, seedling pots and potting tables sat for months. That’s until Lauren, the centre’s Educational Leader, decided to bring this project to life.
“Lauren ordered soil, rocks, seedlings and the additional decorations such as outdoor cushions, fairy lights, a blackboard and even a small table top greenhouse and compost bin,” says Janene. She then had the children help her with filling up the hubs with soil and planting them with the assistance some of the mothers after their Mother’s Day afternoon tea.
Creating connections – Where we hope that people will gather to grow things, to nurture, to share, to find a sanctuary of quiet space or create community connections, to delight in nature and in the simple joy of watching something grow.
The Community Garden Today
The garden is now flourishing and has sparked many conversations with families at the centre and has opened up channels of communication between people who may not have spoken before. The garden has provided herbs for cooking and has even had some self-confessed gardening fans offering advice and assistance.
Janene says, “Our next step will be a small excursion to walk the neighbourhood with cuttings from the garden to give to families and to places such as the non-profit café Now And Not Yet in Warrandyte.”
“This project has been a reminder for us to not give up on projects and that it’s okay to stop, revisit and yes, take two years to get a dream off the ground.”
There’s a saying “from the acorn grows the mighty oak”, and from this community garden project a number of other projects have sprouted. Janene adds, “It’s inspired other projects for us, such as a street library and a last-minute kitchen with non-perishable goods for families who forgot to get dinner and find it difficult to get some on the way home when the children are with them.”
Warrandyte Road Early Learning Centre has truly embedded themselves into their local community and from these experiences are helping children to develop into community minded citizens. We are looking forward to hearing how this community garden progresses!
To learn more about this early learning centre in Doncaster East and to book a tour, head here.