Stage one and two of the garden, berries vegetables and fruit tree sections were built over two weekends by members of the Milparinka community.
We asked people from the Milparinka Community to come and help build our garden and the turnout of people was amazing. We had well over 100 people come throughout two weekends and one weekday, with many coming back on more than one day. We were wrapped in this number, not just because it was more people than we expected but equally because of who came. We had service users come in, mums and dads, friends of the family, grandmothers, sisters, brothers (who bought their friends with them), cousins, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, staff, staff’s partners and their children, house mates of staff, retired staff from Milparinka, house mates of service users who share accommodation with them and a number of community residential unit staff, people from Bunnings, members of our committee of management, a gardener and a volunteer plumber.
It was a lot of hard work, with levelling of soil, carting rocks, building seats and garden beds. It was all made easier by having so many people to chip in and a lot of good humour during the day. While we were building it our dream of finding indivudal roles through the garden was already starting to take shape. We are already finding individual roles that connect people more closely to their local community through the garden even though we haven’t even really started to do this formally yet. We have someone who will pick up vegetables for compost at the local fruit shop, another is looking at a role in delivering cardboard to other gardens, another person is connecting to a local coffee shop for coffee grinds once a week, and another has been invited to help out with a wood supplier, who he met through the garden to have a role, and hopefully in the long term a job, in delivering wood. These are all small starts but we know that when we connect people to more people in their community within the context of valued roles that good things happen and new doors open.
Of course this isn’t just about a garden, what was happening was people were coming together to build a better space for people who we all know, love and care about. It’s about building new opportunities for many of those people both in groups and one person at a time.