Shoalhaven News

Callala garden offers much more than produce

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A new community garden at Callala Bay offers much more than fresh fruit and vegies for local residents - it's a meeting place, a place where friendships are formed and where members can share a cup of tea, music and, of course, the fruits of their labour.

The  garden officially opened today with the help of a $370,000 Commonwealth grant.

Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP joined with the Callala Community Garden Committee and many members of the local community to officially open the garden.

Mrs Phillips said she was thrilled to see this fantastic local community project come to life in her home town.

“Community gardens like this are works of love from local people and the Callala Community Garden is no exception, it is absolutely amazing,” Mrs Phillips said.

“I have long supported this project as a member of this local community, so I was honoured to officially open the garden today and delighted it received this absolutely vital support – another hard-fought win for our community."

Garden committee chair Robyn Hannan said the funding allowed members to expand on what was a small garden with a few vege plots.

It now boasts new, covered raised beds, paving, storage and meeting shed, water tanks and security fencing.

"It's such a great facility for everyone to come, it's all inclusive," she said.

"We have two people in wheelchairs who come and paint and do weeding."

The volunteers grow a host of vegetables, fruits and herbs which they sell fresh from the garden.

"We have a market garden every third Saturday of the month and we sell whatever produce is in the garden," she said.

"People wander around the garden and choose what they want and we pick it - you can get any fresher than that."

Mrs Hannan said the money raised from the market goes back into the garden for the purchase of fertiliser, seeds, seedlings and compost - it's fully sustainable.

She said the garden offers so much for many members of the community, particularly those who are sick, isolated or living alone.

"It's offers social interactivity for elderly people and people who are not well, they can just come and sit in the garden and have a cup of tea."

The garden was started when Mrs Hannan and her friend Victoria met a lonely man on the beach in November 2007.

"He was very upset because he had lost his wife three months earlier and was very lonely. He didn't interact with anyone, so that's when we had the idea to start the garden - for social interaction," she added.

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Photos Katrina Condie