I’d like to start with a little background. You seem like a very busy woman. What do you get up to through the week?
I have two jobs! As the chief executive optimist of Organic Matters Foundation, I am busy continually looking for projects that align with our ethos of empowering education and building sustainable communities. I am responsible for writing our Soil School education programs and supporting my husband Mike who is the Principal Educator in OMF. My other role is in the Home and Community Care sector where I am in senior management. Here I support engagement in and development of business systems and quality management. It’s challenging to do both but incredibly rewarding. I also get up to a bit of herb gardening and have a passion for essential oil production and fibre art when I have time!
What’s your role in The Village Garden Project?
OMF is passionate about engaging in our local community to improve sustainability, ecological awareness and community connectivity. My role is to share knowledge around systems and design (did I mention I am a Permaculture fanatic?) and represent OMF as we support the project by donating what we can in terms of soil, materials and tools, gardening equipment… and whatever else is needed!
What do you think are the benefits of The Village Garden Project?
I often ask myself when did it become necessary for us to ‘put’ a garden in a home. The face of Aged and Community Care is changing into one where residents and clients are enabled to live as normal a life as possible for as long as they wish. It’s all about choice. As we empower residents and clients to engage in normal day to day activities, we also open up to the community as a whole – building a social construct that reconnects our elders to community.
I see the village garden project as the seed in this process if you like. The first step of many in re-orienting a normality and dignity providing construct that reconnects our elders to community.
Then there’s the benefits for the residents! hands in the soil, conversations, laughter and the satisfaction of watching the seed grow to harvest.
Building relationships is an integral part of this program and the life experience and skills of our elders enrich the entire community.
Where can you see this project heading in the future?
Into being a direct influencer in the development of healthy communities! Research has now demonstrated links between doses of nature and a remarkable number of health and well-being responses (Keniger et al. 2013). Population-level studies have shown that increased green space is associated with reduced all-cause mortality and mortality from cardio¬vascular disease (Mitchell and Popham 2008, Donovan et al. 2013), reduced asthma prevalence (Lovasi et al. 2008), and enhanced general or self-reported health (Maas et al. 2006, Groenewegen et al. 2012).
I see this initial design as the first step in many. It’s more than just a garden. It’s about healthy soil, healthy residents and healthy communities. It’s about implementing a model that is suitable for its space also meeting the needs of residents.
I see the Village Garden Project developing transferable programs, designs and systems that serve not only our elders but the community well into the future.
Any thing else you would like to tell us?
The project has so much to offer and I am personally thrilled to be involved. Thank you for asking OMF to be a part of the journey with you.