Rich harvest blooms from wasteland

Clarinda MP Meng Heang Tak and Friends of Refugees' Roz Blades in the vegie garden. 282951_09 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A former industrial warehouse yard in Springvale has transformed into a bountiful spring of fresh vegies.

On 20 June, charity Friends of Refugees formally opened its eight flourishing garden beds, which are supplying fresh food into its ‘food bank’ pantry

The winter goodies include spinach, kelp, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, coriander, parsley, carrot, radish and spring onion.

FoR chief executive Sri Samy said the harvest is supplementing its offerings to asylum-seekers and refugees in need.

It’s particularly timely since soaring food prices have begun to bite.

“You should see how happy people are to harvest, even just a small amount of fresh, organic food to take home and cook.

“Everyone who comes to our office is amazed at how it’s literally transformed from a wasteland space to something that can help the community.”

In partnership with not-for-profit Cultivating Community, the charity has also distributed portable, self-watering garden beds – called ‘living pods’ – to 75 families.

As part of the program, the families have taken part in workshops on how to garden in the pods.

The beauty of the compact pods are that rental households can take them wherever they live.

FoR has also built portable wheelbarrow-style garden beds for families in rental homes.

During Covid, refugees were among the hardest-hit with few welfare safety nets.

At its height, FoR supported more than 225 families with food a week – up from 80 pre-pandemic.