Community garden gets the (green) thumbs up
The community garden at Bolton Clarke’s Tantula Rise retirement village has been transformed over recent months courtesy of village resident and green thumb Neil Jensen.
Neil’s grand plans for the garden are ambitious, and his vision impairment hasn’t deterred the former farmer from flexing his green-thumbs, relying more on his long experience for success.
“My farming instincts take over,” said Neil.
“I take more notice of what I hear and use Google Assistant and Siri if I have questions. I have people assist me to read things about seeds and planting tips too.”
Neil’s next goal is getting the plants to self-pollinate.
“You can feel the different elements in plants and flowers through the textures. I’d love to be able to learn to self-pollinate them by feel.”
Neil has also found some expert input to be his eyes on the ground.
“I met a horticulturalist through another family in the village and he said the garden was ‘pretty perfect.’ He checks it for me regularly and provides advice.”
The garden includes a variety of herbs, vegetables and fruit with the newest additions being cucumber, cumquat and tomatoes. The produce is available to Tantula Rise residents who can pick what they require, with donations to the village social club supporting the upkeep.
Neil harnessed people power to see his vision realized, with support from his fellow residents, Bolton Clarke’s at home support team and the wider community.
Fellow residents Arthur Chawner and Bob Reed have been instrumental to the gardens’ success, along with Arthur’s friends from Lakeshore Baptist Church who made multiple trips to Bunnings picking up timber and helped erect the framework for the garden beds and shelter.
“I couldn’t have made the garden beds without Bob, Arthur and their help.
“A lot of the at home support team who contributed had never done anything like this before, so they were so happy to take part. It was nice to be able to teach them a new skill.”
Bolton Clarke Personal Carer Lauchlan Farley is one of the team members who has helped Neil bring the garden to life, working weekly on planting, watering, pruning and harvesting.
“With Neil’s expertise and guidance, I was more than enthusiastic about helping,” Lauchlan said. “We planted some rosella shrubs and made some jam which tastes great!
“Neil has taught me a lot and we both enjoy our time together – whether it’s in the garden or doing other things such as fishing.”
“Neil gets great enjoyment out of his garden and I enjoy seeing him happy and proactive.
“I enjoy my job and making a positive difference in peoples’ lives and enhancing my clients’ experience with Bolton Clarke,” said Lauchlan.
Neil has fostered a thriving community around the garden.
“Everyone who helped got just as much fun out of it as I did,” said Neil. “It’s been very satisfying to hear all the wonderful comments and excitement about it.
“It’s getting harder to get your hands on the crops because it’s so popular now!”