Residents and staff at Mission Australia’s Benjamin Short Grove aged care facility celebrated two big wins. With the help of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s Community Greening initiative, the team have won the Australian Institute of Horticulture award for Green Space (Regional) and the Community Greening Virtual Challenge with the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Since 2017, Community Greening and Mission Australia staff have worked together with residents to foster a thriving, peaceful garden, featuring a variety of plants they have propagated together, a frog pond, art installations, habitat stations for local wildlife and tranquil places to sit and enjoy the sun.

Gardening through lockdown

BejaminShortGrove Image2In September, Benjamin Short Grove’s residents were thrilled to win the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s ‘Community Virtual Greening Challenge’ with their ‘Work Shed’ project.

In the period where COVID-19 restrictions heightened and regular Community Greening visits were limited, Benjamin Short Grove residents participated in the Community Virtual Greening Challenge to keep their hands and minds busy.

This year they focused on new projects including the ‘Work Shed’ and new bird aviary, a yarning circle adorned with Aboriginal art, and a chicken coup build for the four bantam chickens they have been raising. Residents with farming experience have also taken particular pride in developing a small orchard complete with plum, apricot, apple, fig and cherry trees.

Mission Australia Director of Care, Kim Dillon said “We are all so excited to have won both of these awards! Over the last few years at Benjamin Short Grove, it has been wonderful to see our garden grow and develop.”

“Involving our residents in gardening activities and other outdoor projects and supporting them to spend more time enjoying our greenspaces has been a really positive experience and has certainly boosted the wellbeing of many of our residents.”

“In what could have been an immensely isolating time for residents, we made sure to continue to support residents to get out in the garden, enjoy a breath of fresh air, and pour their efforts into new garden projects.”

Green spaces and healthy ageing

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Elizabeth Docking from Community Greening, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney was part of the team who helped residents design the garden. Using her expertise, she ensured the green spaces were design to be therapeutic and ideal for the older residents.

She is proud of the work they have done and shared, "Through the pandemic, the residents of the Benjamin Short Grove facility have benefitted from the groundwork in developing the gardens, supported by Community Greening.”

“They are proud of their garden that has become a place to be creative, learn, relax, exercise and connect with nature and country. To have this recognition from the Australian Institute of Horticulture is an honour.”

Benjamin Short Grove is home to 60 men and women, many of whom have experienced homelessness, have been at risk of homelessness, or have experienced financial or social disadvantage. Thanks to the Federal Government’s Department of Health, countless men and women have a safe place to age gracefully.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people we help.

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