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Green thumbs up for Clarendon Vale community garden

MORE than 25 volunteers and students converged on Clarendon Vale Primary School in November for some hands-on fun, as they helped to construct a new 2,500-square-metre G.R.O.W community garden and outdoor classroom.

Spearheaded by Mission Australia Housing, the project is being brought to fruition with support from Rokeby High School students and Conservation Volunteers Australia.

It will feature an orchard, vegetable gardens, bush tucker, community spaces, artwork, a pizza oven, and “break out” educational and performance spaces.

Disability access is also catered for, with the garden bed suitable for use by people of all abilities.

Mission Australia program manager Andrew Doube said the project was a “labour of love” initiated by Mission Australia Housing and overseen by a steering committee of local community members.

Mr Doube said the garden, which is scheduled to open in early 2017, would provide an inclusive place “where people in the community can gather, celebrate, grow and harvest food.”

“The G.R.O.W community garden is truly a whole community event,” he said.

“It brings together design elements echoing Clarence Plains’ agricultural and Aboriginal history, reaching back to the Mu-henna Oyster Bay people, as well as the more recent farming community.

“We hope to teach children about the land and share a sense of connection to the earth.”

Clarendon Vale Primary School teacher aid Roxanne McIntyre, who has been actively involved in the program, said the new community garden linked in with the school’s gardening option for students.

“Every student from kindergarten onwards is involved in the gardening option at some point during the year,” she said.

“It is important for them to understand where their food comes from and how to grow it.

“During the implementation of the G.R.O.W Community Garden project, every student was asked what they wanted to see included, which means the garden is truly a part of the school and a part of them.

“We’re had a really positive response from students, parents and the school community – it’s been a long-time getting to this point, so for everyone involved it is very exciting to actually see things coming together.”

Project steering committee member Michael Preddy said the construction of the garden was “well underway.”

“It’s an exciting initiative for the wider community that should engage and entertain the people of Clarence Plains, supplying both physical and spiritual rewards,” he said.

“It is just the beginning of what we foresee for the Clarence Plains community in the future.”

Caption: Rokeby High School student Brady Fitzpartrick, grade nine, with Conservation Volunteers Australia volunteers Marilyn Sherrin and Geoffrey Cooper.