Green gurus band together
Beautifying city plant by plant
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.
GREEN THUMB: Disability workers have been caring for the community garden in North Mackay. Matthew Sanders is pictured here tending to the Vegepods.
Sally Morely with a flowering grass (Lobelia Membranacea) that is hdestined for Mackay Regional Botanic gardens.