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Garden bed project growing in stature

The success of Benalla’s wicking garden bed project is growing in more ways than one. The project is a joint initiative of Benalla Health, St Vincent de Paul’s Society Benalla and Beechworth Correctional Centre. It aims to reduce the reliance on emergency food relief, improve community connectivity and increase people’s knowledge, confidence and skills to grow their own food at home.

The success of Benalla’s wicking garden bed project is growing in more ways than one.

The project is a joint initiative of Benalla Health, St Vincent de Paul’s Society Benalla and Beechworth Correctional Centre. It aims to reduce the reliance on emergency food relief, improve community connectivity and increase people’s knowledge, confidence and skills to grow their own food at home.

The original funding grant of $5000 was given by the Central Hume Primary Care Partnership to build the garden beds with a target for 20 beds.

Beechworth Correctional Centre provided the labour for the build and garden coaches assisted individuals to grow their gardens.

There have now been 35 beds built to date.

Another $4500 has now been made available through the Tomorrow Today Foundation, which will take the potential number of boxes to between 50 and 60.

Earlier this year, two Charles Sturt University students evaluated the impact of the project, adapting the USDA Community Gardener Survey for Adults Template for the research.

Survey questions were asked during a home visit in an informal interview and questions were revised for use in local primary schools, evaluating the school’s mentoring role.

Surveys were conducted with 12 participants and showed:

  • 58% reported tending to the garden daily

  • Most liked feature was the ability to grow own food

  • 92% rated the experience as excellent

  • Prior to garden bed installation, 50% of participants felt unable to grow their own food due to not having the right space.

  • The majority felt the garden increased their fruit and vegetable consumption, with 92% foreseeing a reduction in money spent on food.

  • 92% were also spending more time with the family.

  • Just under half (42%) interviewed reported some degree of food insecurity in the last month leading up to the interview. Participants felt the garden beds were making a positive impact on their food security and all expressed genuine motivation to continue.

The recommendation is to ensure mentoring continues to increase the likelihood of success and long term participation.

Garden coaches are also required, so those with time to assist and with gardening skills are also welcome to offer their help.

If you are interested in the project, please phone Benalla Health on (03) 5761 4500.

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