Sense of belonging grows in garden built on love

Headshot of Nicolette Barbas
Nicolette BarbasHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Grow, Cook, Eat, Create manager Debbie Woodward with the group's sensory and edible community garden. Photo: Nicolette Barbas
Camera IconGrow, Cook, Eat, Create manager Debbie Woodward with the group's sensory and edible community garden. Photo: Nicolette Barbas Credit: Pictures: Nicolette Barbas

More than 40 Grow, Cook, Eat, Create participants turned up at the Leschenault Leisure Centre on Wednesday to take part in building an edible sensory garden.

Since starting the group back in 2014, manager Debbie Woodward has helped participants of all ages and abilities come together to cook, socialise and learn new skills.

“About five years ago I had a client who lived with myself and my husband on the weekends and we wanted him to do something meaningful where he could stay connected with people he knew,” Ms Woodward said.

“We joined a community kitchen, but sadly it closed the following week so my husband and I thought, let’s just get some friends together and start our own.”

Standing out the back of the Leschenault Leisure Centre in front of a recently repaved and refurbished community garden, Ms Woodward is still amazed at how much the group has grown.

“Life Without Barriers supported us with our community kitchen for a while, but unfortunately they had a restructuring of the organisation and were no longer able to fund us,” she said. “So I thought, we can do this independently.”

After 18 months of paperwork and applications, Ms Woodward’s group was finally registered as a not-for-profit-organisation.

“We operate two days a week and have roughly 25 to 30 people come each day, and it’s continually growing,” she said.

“Being food focused, I wanted to incorporate an edible sensory garden as we have a lot of participants that can only smell, touch or taste something.”

Long-time group member Lawrence Mitting said he enjoyed going along to the weekly meet-ups as they get him out of the house.

“I actually live away from my family, so coming here allows me to socialise with people,” he said. “Usually I just come to eat, but I’m excited to see Bunnings put in the new garden.”

Ms Woodward said the group was thankful for the support it had from a number of organisations and businesses.

“The Spudshed have been an amazing help, donating vegetables to us weekly, and I can’t thank them or the Harvey shire enough for allowing us to do what we do,” she said.

“Our kitchen offers an opportunity for socialisation, learning new skills and sharing stories and experiences. You can see today just how important that is.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails