Life begins at Halcyon

Going Bananas for fresh produce

16 September 2019 | by Halcyon

Spring is in the air and with it the promise of blooming flowers and crisp summer vegetables. In the spirit of the season, My Halcyon Days spoke to gardening groups at our communities to find out how their vegie gardens grow.

From aubergines to zucchinis, Halcyon’s gardeners almost have the alphabet covered when it comes to the fruit and vegies they produce. Ranging from the traditional to the exotic, their community gardens are so extensive that it’s more a question of what they don’t grow.

Aside from the usual lettuces, tomatoes, lemons and oranges, they produce chillies, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, Tahitian limes, feijoas, cherry guavas and Jaboticaba (Brazilian grapes), to name just a few.

Halcyon Parks’ Green Thumb Gardeners grow three types of bananas, and the Cavendish variety are 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. Halcyon Lakeside’s gardening group, The Harvesters, can barely keep up with demand for their freshly picked vegies each week.

“There’s a certain group of people who come up at 4pm on a Thursday and are waiting for us to bring the produce out and sell, and they’re there every week,” group spokesman Ken Howath said.
“They love the freshness, and you can’t get any fresher than what you’ve picked today.”

Green Thumbs 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 5pm, 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 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.” Ken said being involved in The Harvesters is also an interesting insight into how people use fresh food.

For instance, using kale in smoothies, grating turmeric into stews or salads to help soothe aches and pains, and even one lady who slips a stalk of freshly picked lemongrass into her scotch. “It’s marvellous how people use different things,” he said.

As spring approaches, The Harvesters are picking their winter crops and preparing for the next planting by digging up and fertilising the garden beds. In the coming months, Lakeside home owners can expect to see beetroot, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and sweet corn on sale during Happy Hour.
Graeme said tending the community gardens was 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.”

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