Green gu­rus band to­gether

Beau­ti­fy­ing city plant by plant

Daily Mercury - - NEWS - KATE RAS­MUSSEN Kate.Ras­mussen@dai­ly­mer­cury.com.au

VOL­UN­TEERS and staff are work­ing hard at Mackay Nat­u­ral En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre to cul­ti­vate na­tive plants from around the re­gion for beau­ti­fi­ca­tion projects and other prac­ti­cal needs

The team of five staff and over 20 vol­un­teers work tire­lessly to pro­vide plants for all of Mackay Re­gional Coun­cil’s gar­den­ing projects, in­clud­ing Mackay Re­gional Botanic Gar­dens, beach re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and the pop­u­lar Your Gar­den morn­ing that was re­cently held at Gordon White Li­brary.

Caro­line Wilkes, a nurs­ery hand, said vol­un­teers and staff do an amaz­ing job.

“We have five ca­su­als, and a large group of vol­un­teers usu­ally through our Pi­o­neer Catch­ments Land­care. And we can have up to 12-15 peo­ple come in on a Tues­day morn­ing. They get hec­tic pot­ting and do­ing things here in the nurs­ery un­til midday,” she said.

“(On) Thurs­days we have another group of vol­un­teers come through. Some of them are our dis­abil­ity (sup­port) peo­ple and they come out and they get busy with us, and they look af­ter the seeds and veg­gie pods,” she said.

The team at the Mackay Nat­u­ral En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre have a range of projects on the go, but one par­tic­u­larly close to their hearts is the edi­ble gar­den they have been grow­ing for use by staff and vol­un­teers.

“We grow all your bras­si­cas, like all your cauliflow­ers, broc­coli, let­tuces, carrots,” she said.

The cen­tre in­stalled the first three Vege­pods sys­tems at the start of the year and have seen great suc­cess since then.

“We got three ini­tially back in April and they have been a great suc­cess. We were able to re­lo­cate the veg­gie gar­den from the pre­vi­ous spot be­cause we are just grow­ing and re­lo­cat­ing at the mo­ment. We needed to take the veg­gie gar­den out and this is what we have done as an al­ter­na­tive,” she ex­plained.

The Vege­pods are an in­no­va­tive sys­tem brought to the cen­tre by gar­den­ing mas­ter­mind and man­ager Sue McCor­mack. The pods utilise a self-wa­ter­ing sys­tem and utilise a pro­tec­tive cover that pro­tects the seedlings from harsh weather, bugs and other dan­gers to young plants.

Ms Wilkes said the sys­tems largely look af­ter them­selves.

“They have this wick­ing sys­tem at the bot­tom where they are draw­ing wa­ter com­ing up from the bot­tom. So, from the roots. Ev­ery now and then you come and give them some wa­ter, which is easy with the veg­gie pods. You just plug in the hose leave it for a few min­utes and plug it into the next one,” she said.

The sys­tem also means that ev­ery­body can get in­volved in the edi­ble gar­den project.

“They are raised up high for peo­ple who are older, so they aren’t bend­ing over or reach­ing down. It’s more or­gan­ised, it’s a lit­tle bit ti­dier and we still have other gar­dens grow­ing zuc­chini and toma­toes in the back,” she said.

Matthew San­der started vol­un­teer­ing af­ter a med­i­cal con­di­tion caused him to lose some of his sight.

“I started get­ting into gar­den­ing as some­thing to do to keep my­self busy ... ,” he said.

Mr San­der said his favourite part about work­ing at the cen­tre was tend­ing to the ed­i­bles.

“I didn’t know that broc­coli could even get that big,” he ex­claimed.

Phone the coun­cil on 1300 622 529 for more in­for­ma­tion about vol­un­teer­ing.

Photos: Stu­art Quinn

GREEN THUMB: Dis­abil­ity work­ers have been car­ing for the com­mu­nity gar­den in North Mackay. Matthew San­ders is pic­tured here tend­ing to the Vege­pods.

Photo: Stu­art Quinn

Sally Morely with a flow­er­ing grass (Lo­belia Mem­branacea) that is hdes­tined for Mackay Re­gional Botanic gar­dens.

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