Life Skills produces a budding group of ‘green thumbs’

By James White, 5 March 2018 , Comments

“Six hours of a budgeting workshop is just too much,” the customers in Northcott’s Hurstville Life Skills program said.

No one was engaging in the afternoon sessions anymore so Program Coordinator James White decided a change was required. Knowing his customers well, James realised they needed something physical, something to get their blood flowing.

“After discussing the idea with the group, we decided to contact the local Community Garden and they were really excited! We explained what we wanted to get out of the program and the ideas just started flowing,” James said.

The gardening program operates in stark contrast to the budgeting program. It allows the customers to be active; get out in the community; and to socialise with each other and with other members of the Community Garden in the morning.

“They get their hands dirty and have a great time,” James said.

After lunch, the rest of their day is spent on the budgeting and employment modules. The group is ok with this now, because they have been active all morning.

“I now look forward to the afternoon session because it’s quiet and relaxing,” said one of the customers.

The gardening program offers other advantages too. The  customers are planting, caring for and growing their own vegetables which they can use when they complete the cooking aspect of the program.

“It’s really exciting cooking with vegetables we have grown ourselves,” said one of the  customers.

James explained: “Growing their own vegetables teaches responsibility and gives them ownership of the food they prepare. They also tend to other members’ gardens and take care of the common areas too, so they truly feel part of the gardening community.

“Plus it helps with the program’s budget. Budgets can be tight and we have often come back from the garden with more than $100 worth of free fruit and vegetables, so that’s a bonus,” James said.

“There is a fantastic vibe of ‘community’ in the Gardens. All the other plot owners are fantastic. Everyone pitches in to help everyone else. There’s not an ounce of selfishness. People share seeds, time and the produce when it is ripe for picking,” James said.

“However, I think one of the most exciting outcomes is how much the Life Skills customers enjoy socialising and engaging with the other garden members. This is building their social confidence in leaps and bounds which is so fantastic to see!”

James is now working towards increasing the size of the Life Skills group.

“If our group gets bigger, we will be able to visit the garden more than once a week and this will allow us to have our very own plot. That would be amazing!” he said.

Want to be a part of our ‘green thumbs’ program?  Contact us today on 1800 818 286 for more information about the Hurstville Community Gardening Program and Life Skills group.

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