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Thanks to a gardening grant from 2018 Innerwest Council Environment Grants Program, Afford’s Ashfield Community Day Program clients have experienced therapy through gardening. Participants will benefit from getting their hands dirty in the garden now and into the future.

Get into the Garden to Develop Your Knowledge and Skills

The 2018 Innerwest Council Environment Grants Program funded an eight-week gardening program at the Ashfield site. Over the weeks, the facilitator, Toni Salter (or as we all know her, ‘ The Veggie Lady’) guided clients to develop skills in caring for and maintaining a garden.

Ashfield clients have loved their gardening sessions! They have learned how to sow seeds and care for growing plants. They have also learned how to recognise when it’s time to harvest. They have also learnt to identify what has been growing in the garden.

Care for the World Around You

One of the main goals for the gardening program is to attract native birds back into the community. It is important for everyone to understand that while we can attract the birds, we also need to make sure they are safe to enjoy the natural surrounds. Having a garden that includes flowers and plants that appeal to birds, but still provides hiding spaces, is key.

Ashfield’s backyard has various shady spots which presented a challenge for the team. They needed to figure out which plants would thrive best in this type of environment. Luckily, our resident Veggie Lady knew all the right native plant species to use to make the garden grow.

Be Proud of Your Efforts

The garden now has a range of herbs and fruits, including delicious strawberries! Everyone at Ashfield Day Program can’t wait to watch all that they’ve planted grow. They can then pick and use their herbs, fruits, and vegetables in recipes during their cooking program, which will complete the ‘garden to plate’ circle. All clients can be proud that they have contributed to the overall look of their site and to the meals that they make.

As an added bonus, Toni also provided the group with step by step instructions on how to create native bee ‘hotels’!

Learn Skills for Life

The eight week experience has created a stunning garden for Ashfield’s clients to enjoy. It has also served as sensory therapy for clients. Touching, smelling and listening to the noises of nature all play a role in supporting clients to learn new skills and more of the world around them.

Thanks to the funding from Innerwest Council Environment Program,  clients have learned new skills over the eight-week program. But it doesn’t stop there. Afford staff will continue to support clients to care for their garden and nurture the seedlings until harvesting. It is a long term program that will sow skills for life and reap many delicious rewards as well!

Find out more about how you can learn practical skills at one of Afford’s Day Programs across New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.