The Gardening Gang Gets Going (with help from Bunnings and Taubmans)

Lachlan and Amanda IMG-3285.jpg

ABOVE: Finished product; Lachlan and Amanda who access the Warana service are seen picking some of the delicious Butterbeans, Parsley and Shallots that are growing amongst those huge Cabbage. PHOTOS COURTESY OF KAREN DELANEY 

By Karen Delaney and Lachlan Smith

What exactly does it mean when we talk building partnerships that support people to live and work in the community. This story from Flourish Australia’s Warana service puts you in the picture!

The Warana PEARL (Peer Engaged Assisted Recovery Lifestyle) Program located in Kawana, Queensland has been steadily growing in size over 2018/2019. As our numbers grow the, rooms where we hold private conversations with the people who access the service have been in high demand. Space inside the building is being used daily by the peers.* To help accommodate for the growing groups, the peers decided to renew the back yard area. 

The concept was to create feature gardens and private sitting areas to make better use of backyard space…as a more congenial peer to peer conversation back drop than inside the building. Over time, it’s hoped that bright feature plants, fragrant flowers and a culinary patch would bring functionality and inspiration to the are.

Our backyard consisted of a narrow patch with an aged outdoor table, wooden chairs, a cantilever umbrella, two semi-retired garden plots and a few Cordylines, which are a popular garden feature plant. There’s also a lovely mural painted on the shed wall by past peers and staff, and a nice high timber fence.

Not deterred by a small budget and minimal equipment, a Garden Gang was formed, and the peers laid out their ideas for the backyard. Lachlan possessed hidden talents and presented us with a master plan fit to scale, and although the end result wasn’t quite the same (we have no water feature, sadly) it is wonderful to have such a talented and enthusiastic peer. 

You never know till you have a go

In the next stage of the project, our gang explored possibilities of where we could get outdoor furniture, garden soil, plants, screens for some privacy and fence paint to renew our back yard.

With a belief that ‘you never know till you have a go’ and ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get,’ peer worker Karen sent an email to Amanda, the Activities Organiser at Bunnings; and, well… the response had us doing little cartwheels all over the place. 

Not only  did Mandy from Bunnings come out to visit us, discuss our needs, and let us know that they would help us with items and labour, but they also brought in Taubman’s Paints. The local area manager Fiona donated and even offered to paint the fence as soon as we chose the colour.

“…how powerful a thing it is to reach out to others and be rewarded with such kindness.”

Well, the paint lottery was on, and with the many shades on offer, Vanilla Brandy was the winner. The date was set and peers got busy cleaning out the yard, tidying the fence line and relocating a raised garden plot. March 11th Arrived and along with it came Mandy, Fiona, Jack and a ute filled with supplies including an unexpected wish listed item:

A lovely new Barbecue!

It was hot and hard work but with lots of laughter and peer-made pizzas for lunch, the fence was painted. The screens were set up, tables and umbrellas put together, and boxes of plants and garden mix stored in the shade for a later day. The day closed with a ‘Certificate Presentation’ and promises to keep in touch, and we were reminded of how powerful a thing it is to reach out to others and be rewarded with such kindness.  

The garden gang continues with planting of vegetables and herbs from Bunnings, cuttings from our own home gardens, and planning where to put the pallet gardens. Discussions also continue on how to include these freshly grown goodies in to our cooking groups.

A broken bench seat has been painted and re-purposed on the fence as a table, and pavers from a garage sale will come together for a mandala in the seating area. 

We now have a new opportunity to continue to express our creativity in the garden, and are grateful for the contributions of others in helping us make our peer operated service just as comfortable as our own homes.

Flourish Australia, 289 Nicklin Way, KAWANA QLD 4575                   

1300 779 270

*NOTE. Warana is proudly a peer operated service. In this story you can read “peer” as meaning “both staff and the people who access the service.”

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ABOVE is a photo collage put together by the Flourish Australia Warana service. LEFT: Mandy, Jack and Fiona. RIGHT: Paul, Vicki, Fiona, Mandy, Karen, Jack and Toni. PHOTOS BY RYAN SCHMIDT AND KAREN DELANEY

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