For all its seasonal produce, flowers, herbs and sprawling raised beds, Wandana Community Garden is less about plants and more about people.
“The garden is 10 per cent gardening and 90 per cent about community,’’ says caretaker, Alan Shepard.
“It provides an opportunity for people to socialise and come together to talk about what’s going on, not just in the garden but in their lives generally.
“There’s an acceptance here and that’s really important given it’s a low socio economic area with different challenges.’’
The all-organic garden itself has overcome significant hurdles in order to thrive.
When the community centre relocated from Wandana Ave to Blacks Rd, Gilles Plains, the gardeners went with it.
“We had to start again from scratch,’’ Alan says.
“The site was unbelievably bad because of the worst type of clay soil in Adelaide. We tried to add compost but it just wasn’t working so we put in raised beds about two years ago and that made a huge difference.’’
Today the garden boasts 22 fruit trees including almond, pomegranate, quince, lemon, loquat, plum, mulberry and the vanilla-tasting ice cream bean, to name only a few, as well as dozens of bird-attracting species, such as salvias, and more than 200 indigenous plants, many of which are host plants for native butterflies.
Seasonal vegetables and herbs are abundant. Sometimes these are offered for sale from the propagating shed – built by local TAFE students – where the public can buy succulents and other varieties each week to raise money for new seedlings and garden equipment.
Currently the garden is flush with winter varieties, including broad beans, rainbow chard, kale and spinach.
Every Monday, volunteers and community members meet at 9am and work through to midday, only stopping for morning tea.
“That’s the most important part of the morning!’’ Alan says.
If you would like to join Wandana Community Garden or become a volunteer, please phone 8261 8124.