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Trusted Garden Program breaks new ground

Man in red striped shirt and lady in orange shirt in the gardenThe Disability Trust is building a green future to nurture and grow skills in the community.

A new garden project is starting to take shape in Wollongong and we are looking for NDIS participants to get involved in bringing the space to life. There will be opportunities to help with planting, making garden furniture and nurturing and maintaining the garden as it becomes established. The project will provide the opportunity for participants to develop skills that could help towards future employment.

Building on the success of the Trusted Gardens program through projects in Balgownie and on the Innovations Campus in North Wollongong, the new garden will be next door to our headquarters in Edney Lane, Spring Hill.

The large site will include a workshop where participants will be able to make raised garden beds, planters and garden furniture from locally sourced recycled timber. There are also plans to build a greenhouse for propagating plants and growing seedlings. The 100 metre path that forms a loop through the site will provide access to all areas, including a sensory garden filled with scented and tactile planting.

Operations Manager Chris Duffus is excited about the new site that will widen the range of opportunities on offer, as he explains.

“Supervisor Alison Flint is the coordinator of the garden program. She’s a horticulturalist and she’s awesome. By developing this project she’s helped to bring a number of different Trust services together. Where we have only been able to offer limited employment opportunities away from our mowing contract services, our ambition is to be a one-stop-shop, where anyone who comes to us, regardless of their ability, can be provided with a variety of options. This gardening program now enables us to do that, whether it’s mowing, gardening or making garden beds and planters.”

The new garden sits behind The Plant Room Café that provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and which will eventually be supplied with fresh produce by the new garden.

The expansion in the facilities available to the Trusted Gardens program is timely, as Chris Duffus explains.

“Our current projects are at full capacity so having the new site is really exciting. It also allows us to showcase what we do to people visiting the Plant Room Café, as well as anyone coming to The Disability Trust’s head office. Once we are up and running, the people who are working in the garden will also be able to take visitors from some of our other services for a tour.

“We currently have twenty four participants on our Trusted Gardens program. Some of those are people who came in as part of the lawn mowing services that are now working in the gardens or even in the café. It’s enabled us to give people a real choice. Some have expressed an interest in doing some further study in terms of horticulture qualifications, so it’s a really exciting step forwards in terms of the services we offer.”

For more information on the Trusted Gardens Program, please call The Disability Trust on 1300 347 224


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