A garden at the corner of Mildred and Nash streets in Kapunda is a hive of activity every Wednesday and not only because of its impressive “insect hotel”.
Often admired by passers-by, the land is owned by the Kapunda Hospital and was turned into a community garden by locals years ago. More recently, however, it’s the members of U3A Kapunda and Districts who have provided the manual labour for its upkeep, with “working bees” held every Wednesday afternoon.
Garden manager and Angaston resident, David MacKinnon, said he first sighted the garden three years ago and was highly impressed by the infrastructure and planning that had gone into its establishment, including the selection of plants in the orchard and boundary, the wide composting bays, garden beds and keyhole paths that were set in place.
“Unfortunately, there had been very little activity for a couple of years,” David told The Leader.
“The hospital agreed to give us a go, so that we could have a place to hold our monthly workshops on garden topics according to the season, meditation and mindfulness, and informative sessions on the health benefits of organic food and herbs.”
As the garden grew, so did the group’s involvement to the point where the core group now meet weekly.
Since the U3A arrived on the scene, members and helpers have paved the central gazebo, resurfaced and mowed the paths, watered consistently through the long weeks of summer, built wicking beds, established herb and bee attracting flower gardens, propagated plants and built insect hotels, to name just a few of their many tasks.
Their next project is to create raised, wheel chair friendly garden beds.
David said whilst there is a never ending workload, especially due to their strict “no spray” policy, the results were worth the effort.
“Our emphasis right from the beginning has been mutual respect, inclusion and openness,” said David, a retired teacher with 45 years of experience in organic gardening and farming.
“We emphasise the social aspect rather than work, but in the end, a lot of work tends to get done.”
Following permaculture principles, produce grown in the garden is first shared among the workers with excess informally passed on to people within the community.
“Anybody we know who is in need or anything, we shift vegetables their way,” David said.
The monthly workshops also result in many interesting things being made and shared, from tasty recipes to healing ointments all made from plants, vegetables and fruit they harvest.
“We are at the stage now where we are looking for a few committed members with a real interest in gardening, particularly but not exclusively from Kapunda,” David said.
“We are interested in up-cycling and creating biodiversity and we’re very, very social!
“Everyone is welcome.”