Planting the seeds for an inclusive future in Mackay

Greenmount Homestead’s latest volunteer project has led to a new lease of life for its historic gardens, as well as for a group of people with a disability who love to garden.

Three days a week a group of enthusiastic growers from Endeavour Foundation’s Learning and Lifestyle spend their time planning, planting and maintaining garden beds around the grounds of the old Cook family home, helping to keep up a long tradition of homestead garden excellence.

Endeavour Foundation Support and Operations Manager, Kirsty Perkins, said the project was an excellent addition to their diverse learning program which assists people with a disability to enhance their life skills.

“With projects like this you can engage clients in a really tactile way to build all kinds of skills,” said Ms Perkins.

“They’ve learnt all about companion planting, composting and the how’s and why’s of growing things organically.

“But it’s not just about gardening. We share the produce from the vegetable garden amongst everyone at the Learning and Lifestyle and use this as an opportunity to talk about the benefits of healthy eating,” said Kirsty

“It’s also been great for improving communication and people skills. I’ve seen a lot of the participants grow more confident about interacting with people they don’t know.”

Ms Perkins said some of the long term members of the gardening team have been using the skills they’ve learnt to create or improve their gardens at home.

“It’s great seeing them outdoors and getting some exercise but most of all it’s wonderful to see them doing something they really enjoy,” she said

John O’Sullivan, who has become the lead gardener of the group, said his time at the Greenmount Homestead was the best part of his week.

“What I really like is good team work. I like watching veggies grow, tomatoes, corn, capsicum and cumbers. Watering the gardens, it’s a nice place to work. Planting veggies and getting the mulch and spreading it around the gardens,” he said.

The project also benefits Greenmount Homestead who are always looking for volunteers to keep the 1915 historic home in pristine condition and consistent with its historic origins.

Greenmount Homestead Curator Brian Osborn said: “Right now we would love to get some volunteers to help us build some new garden beds to expand our plans for the grounds.

“Without the help of our local community, we wouldn’t be able to keep this fabulous home open to the public, attracting tourists to our region and helping us all to learn from the lessons of our past,” he said.