by @joleneogle on Sunday, 17 Dec,2017

Noosa Community Garden is a veggie plot bursting with fruit, vegetables and herbs where bees buzz and zucchinis flourish; seedlings sprout and the busy gardeners work within a gentle breeze to the sounds of birds chirping.

Auspiced by Slow Food Noosa, it’s an idyllic piece of paradise set just metres from one of Tewantin’s busiest roads; the perfect metaphor for the growing Slow Food movement that battles against a world of highly processed fast foods.

A band of volunteers lovingly maintain the garden, harvesting the produce to share amongst themselves once a week while they catch up over a cuppa and cake. The members of the group are as diverse as the food they cultivate, with many coming to the garden’s weekly gathering to get their gardening fix, socialise or restock their fresh produce supplies.

For Noosa Community Garden coordinator Tara Roze, living in a rented property meant she couldn’t indulge her love of gardening. Now, Tara is able to get her hands dirty again and as we chat she is sorting herbs and seedlings with a smile on her face.

“I’m an avid gardener but I don’t have much space at home,” she says.

"I have raised beds on pavers and pots everywhere! I’ve always had a green thumb.

I love gardening - that’s my passion.

“Here, we are finally starting to get good soil together with the compost. We’re starting to build up the garden beds and harvest. My goal is to get from one basket (of harvested produce) every week to a basket for everyone next year.” True to the spirit of the global Slow Food ethos, nothing is wasted within this garden. Excess herbs are dried and shared among the group, compost is made on-site and the food plucked from the garden makes the short journey to the kitchens of the volunteers. Knowing exactly where your food comes from is something so simple yet so rare in this world of fast food.

The importance of learning about the source of food doesn’t stop with the Noosa Community Garden. Slow Food Noosa president Erika Hackett is in the garden today harvesting lettuces and says establishing a school kitchen program with celebrity chef and IN Noosa Magazine contributor Matt Golinski has been one of Slow Food Noosa’s most important programs.

“There are now six school gardens throughout the coast, helping children learn to grow, harvest and cook their own food,” she says. “People need to reconnect with their food source.” Soil to Supper Founder Cath Manuel also joined with Slow Food Noosa and Bendigo Bank to establish sensory gardens in the local aged care facility and she regularly holds workshops at the Noosa Community Garden.

As Erika makes her way around the garden, chatting with her fellow volunteers, the relaxed, social atmosphere is clear and it’s obvious this is what the community garden is all about.

The gardeners chat amongst themselves, discussing what vegetables are working best in the soil, the latest bug that has tried to derail the herbs and how well the greens have been this season.

Slow Food Noosa committee member and garden volunteer Nola Goldstein says she loves volunteering in the garden and encourages everyone in the community to come along.

“One of our goals in this is to engage with people in the community; including people who don’t have a lot of family here and perhaps are a little lonely,” she said.

“There’s an opportunity for them to come and socialise, as well as do the gardening and take some of the harvest away.

“If people have disabilities or whatever their circumstances are, they can be included in the community and have a sense of purpose. That’s one of our ultimate goals. It’s what we try to do here. "We would love for more people to come. We’re very open, very inclusive. It doesn’t matter who you are."


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