Kiwanis’ new community garden is thriving

By John Lewis

It is not exactly a secret garden — just a little out of the way.

Take a walk through KidsTown, past the big fruit box playground and you will come to Kiwanis Shepparton Sunrisers’ garden that is aptly named Sprout, because it is about to bloom in a big way.

Kiwanis president Felicity Butcher said club members began working on their signature project about a year ago.

‘‘We want to create a really engaging place for children and families with a focus on fun and education, and growing your own food — especially indigenous food,’’ Mrs Butcher said.

She said Kiwanis members were shown the 65mx20m site when they approached KidsTown staff about ideas to create a signature project for the service group.

What members found was a disused community garden that began as a Greater Shepparton City Council community leadership program in 2014.

‘‘There was no fencing and the garden beds were overgrown and getting eaten by kangaroos,’’ Mrs Butcher said.

A year later, the garden has been tidied up, pruned and weeded.

Thanks to a council matching grant, the site has colourful raised beds with sprinklers and mulch, surrounded by 182m of metal fencing, recycled from Tatura and Mooroopna public swimming pools.

But there are plans for a lot more exciting things to come.

Mrs Butcher listed a hydration station made from recycled plastic; a covered tunnel for growing vegies with lift-up lids revealing nutritional information; a giant carrot made from recycled tyres painted orange; a 2m-high SunSmart scarecrow; an outdoor classroom with tree logs for seats and boards over garden beds as workstations; a ‘‘mud kitchen’’ for that all-important children’s culinary activity — mud-pie making; a worm farm, compost bin and beehive; and a cubby ‘‘sleep centre’’ with nocturnal information about humans and animals.

Mrs Butcher said a $4500 Greater Shepparton Connected Communities grant would help enable power to be connected to an on-site shipping container.

‘‘This would provide lighting for night time events and also link in to the KidsTown security system,’’ she said.

She said Kiwanis was working with Uncle Rubin Baksh and other indigenous community members to create a colourful mural on the shipping container that would also contain information on bush foods.

Mrs Butcher said Kiwanis members hoped to have the site completed in a year.

For more information about Sprout, phone Mrs Butcher on 0428231410.