HVO Apprentices Get Green Thumbs

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A group of Hunter Valley Operation’s (HVO) apprentices put their trade skills to good use on Saturday, August 27 to help spruce up the Singleton Community Garden.

A team of 23 HVO apprentices joined other HVO staff and tradespeople from local building services company, Buildtell, to build 12 new raised garden beds, help clean up and weed the garden and give the shed a new coat of paint.

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Singleton Community Garden president Paige Gough said the HVO’s support in supplying materials and staff has given the group’s expansion plans a much-needed boost. Ms Gough said HVO’s work will more than double the number of beds.

“During COVID our membership declined but we are back up to 35 members and we’ve been wanting to expand the beds and orchard,” Ms Gough said.

“We are trying to create a really productive drought tolerant, permaculture garden to produce a wide variety of fresh, healthy produce for people to enjoy. The new beds will use an adaptation of the German hügelkultur method of placing soil on top of thick layered compost material to help retain moisture.”

HVO’s learning and development coordinator Paul Watters has co-ordinated the support project. Mr Watters said the project benefits the apprentices and the community. He said HVO’s apprentices support a community project once a year but next year the plan is to do two projects a year.

“It was a great learning opportunity for our apprentices to work with Buildtell’s qualified tradespeople and adapt their skills to work on a different sort of project,” Mr Watters said.

“HVO is about supporting our local community and the Singleton Community Garden is a great of example of how community can come together to support one another in a beneficial and sustainable way,” he said.

“We’re also teaching our apprentices the value of fresh produce in having a healthy lifestyle and hopefully giving them green thumbs.” 

The community garden in Bathurst Street was established in 2014 on a former tennis court. As well as vegetable gardens there is a small orchard, a bird attracting garden and an indigenous learning circle with native plants.

Ms Gough said the garden group allows people to connect over a love of gardening and growing fresh produce. She said members also work to help each other and the broader community to learn about gardening, soils as well as seed collection and seed saving for their own gardens.

“The garden is a great way to meet people too. We recently had a shared table dinner in the nearby hall.”

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Membership of the group is $20 a year. The garden is communal with everyone sharing what is grown. Excess produce is also donated to Open Door and other community groups to help feed local people in need.

Members work on the garden throughout the week, but the committee are there every Sunday morning to welcome new members.

For more information or to join the garden group visit the Singleton Community Garden Facebook page.

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