When members of Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla started brainstorming ideas for how to engage the local community with the Southeast Harvest festival, they turned to their motto of “connect, learn, share” for inspiration.
A bold idea emerged to establish a vegetable garden on the lawns of Eurobodalla Shire Council, on one of the most prominent locations in Moruya. But how? Enter Gabi Harding, Moruya TAFE teacher and Eurobodalla Shire Councillor.
When Gabi Harding heard about this idea, she really thought big. She saw an opportunity to incorporate the project into the TAFE curriculum for students of horticulture. “I just knew that a vegetable garden in the most prominent spot in town would raise an enormous amount of awareness about growing your own food and living more sustainably. It’s something I feel really passionate about,” said Gabi. “It was a great opportunity to connect different parts of the community together: SAGE, TAFE, Council and the public. I hope this will lead to other innovations aimed at connecting people to locally grown, healthy food.”
Council responded enthusiastically to the proposal and work on the “Harvest Garden” commenced in August.
As part of National Skills Week, which showcases education and training offered by TAFE, both the Carpentry and Horticulture faculties worked on the project. Level 1 and 2 Carpentry students constructed and installed the raised garden beds on the Council lawns. Level 3 Horticulture students then planned and implemented the establishment and maintenance of the garden. All facets of the installation and implementation contributed to the delivery of units that form part of those qualifications.
The first produce harvested from the garden three months later was donated to a local church soup kitchen. The remainder was just harvested for the SAGE Riverfeast dinner, the closing event for the Southeast Harvest this Saturday night.
Moruya TAFE was also instrumental in another initiative for the festival introduced this year. Local retail businesses were approached to be custodians of a portable wicking garden bed for this week, illustrating how easy it can be to grow our own food in a very small space. TAFE students also planted and maintained these miniature vegetable gardens until they were distributed to the participating businesses earlier this week.
Both of these projects have not only succeeded in connecting the general public to the idea of growing our own food, but also have contributed to the learning experience of TAFE students and will share the bounty of their harvest with the local community.
The Southeast Harvest will be held at the Riverside Park amphitheatre this Saturday 8th November from 9am and is free to the public. Special guest Costa Georgiadis will be there to mix with the crowd, along with other guests giving talks and demonstrations in the main event marquee. For more information, see the Event Program.