Green Thumbs are going bananas in Halcyon Parks’ garden
From aubergines to zucchinis, the Green Thumb Gardeners almost have the alphabet covered when it comes to the fruit and vegies they produce at Halcyon Parks. Ranging from the traditional to the exotic, their community garden is so extensive that it’s more a question of what they don’t grow.
Aside from the usual lettuces, tomatoes, lemons and oranges, the Green Thumbs produce chillies, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, Tahitian limes, feijoas, cherry guavas and Jaboticaba (Brazilian grapes), to name just a few.
They grow three types of bananas, and the Cavendish variety is doing so well that the gardeners have recently picked a bumper bunch with 13 hands-on it – closing in on the Queensland record of 15 hands.
Each Friday afternoon, the ripe and ready produce is picked, packed and then sold to home owners at the community’s Happy Hour. Green Thumb spokesman Graeme Scott said they had sold almost $8,000 worth of fruit and veg in the four years since the first crop was harvested.
Graeme said Parks home owners appreciated the affordable price tag of $1 a bag and the unbeatable freshness of the food. “I can sell them a bagful of silverbeet and it will last them a fortnight whereas you buy it from the supermarket and you’re lucky to get a week out of it before it goes funny,” he said.
“The product is picked Friday afternoon and sold at 5 pm so it’s really fresh. “Everybody who comes through on a Friday night usually buys something and we can sell up to $90 worth in an evening.”
Graeme, a former construction manager, initiated the gardens in 2014, shortly after he and his wife Merle moved in. “I wandered around the place and thought it would be a great idea to have a vegie garden,” he said.
“I drew up plans and handed them to (community manager) Kate. “We started with four garden beds and away we went. “We sold our first batch of vegies in May 2015 and we’ve expanded quite a lot since then. “Today we have 16 garden beds, a garden along the fence, a pumpkin patch, passionfruit vines and 13 citrus trees.”
Looking after it all takes a group effort. Graeme helps Dick Hertslett, Jim Grant and John Ingram to keep the gardens going while Lenore Grant and Graeme’s wife Merle help with picking and packing on a Friday. Former citrus farmer Rob Davis now tends the citrus trees, and each Saturday morning Norm Leth and John Rowe do the insect spraying.
Such is their dedication that they even have a board on which they chart the weather patterns and record rainfall. There are also two resident magpies who keep ducks and crows away from the gardens in return for a feed of mince now and then.
Graeme said the gardens were a constant source of satisfaction and an opportunity to catch up with friends regularly. “We have the enjoyment of producing vegetables and it’s a little bit of a time to have a natter with your neighbour,” he said. “We all give each other heaps and we have that sense of camaraderie.”