Susan Rowe from Fusion Southern Tasmania joined Scott to talk about a fundraiser on 10th of November the 2019 Fusion Garden Party
Fusion has the property Forest Glen at Kingston, which was left by eccentric Hobart philanthropist Basil Griston in his will to be used for people in need. Fusion owns this property and we have a whole range of programs we do to support the local community. If you’ve read Basil’s story, it is one of a very poor family who grew up on the hills of south Hobart, at one point they had eaten so much corned meet they started to turn green. We understand he made his money from Bass Strait oil developments. We don’t know when Basil purchased the property at Kingston, but we know he also ran a boarding house in Hobart for guys who were doing it tough. He left a scholarship at UTAS in the name of his sister. There are lots of stories about Basil, good and bad, but he clearly had a generous heart for those in need. He used to raise pigs and grow veggies on the property at Kingston to supply the boarding house in town.
So back in 2014, I was helping with a food distribution at Kingborough family church, and I was confronted by some pumpkin that a supermarket had generously donated to be given away, and we admire that and are grateful for that, it was past what they wanted to sell in terms of freshness, it was actually mouldy. I thought to myself, you know people in need deserve better than this. We have land, we have an area that had previously been a veggie garden, the wind had done some damage but it wasn’t beyond repair. At this point I will say my only qualification for growing veggies was growing zucchini’s and radishes in grade 7 at high school in western NSW. But I quickly gathered an awesome team of volunteers who know a whole lot more than me about gardening in Tasmania. We are always looking for new volunteers, and you don’t have to be a gardener, through summer, we are often looking for people to just come and help pick the produce.
So we got to work and by October 2014 we had a garden enclosure ready to plant. We grew 130kg of produce that year and thought we were amazing. Everything was donated, or we already had it on the farm. Even the plants, a garden shed, people turned up with tools and soil. We were very blessed. We were defiantly meant to be doing what we were doing. We have a mentoring program working with students from local schools who are not so engaged in their schooling, They have learned a lot of maths and manual labour skills, laying out the garden, cutting timbers and generally learning to use tools in the process.
We picked up a few community grants in 2015 and improved the garden layout, and put in some irrigation and we increased our tonnage to about 850kg. We’ve gone from strength to strength, Kingborough Council through a grant we received a commercial sized hot house. In 2017 we cracked the elusive 1 tonne, 2018 we grew 1.5 tonnes of veggies that were all given away in the Kingborough area. This year we are on track to deliver 2 tonnes of veggies all given away free.
It does cost us to run the garden, we have dam water on the farm so we are blessed to not have to pay for that. But it does cost about $4,000 a year to run the project. The project is complete run by volunteers, I have to acknowledge 2 delightful volunteers Laurie and Paula Butler, who came as caretakers almost 2 years ago, for 6 weeks and they’ve never left, they are the anchors for this project and we couldn’t do it without them
2 Years ago we decided that we needed to some fundraising to offset the cost of the project. A garden party in spring seemed like the perfect fundraising idea.
So on the 10th of November we are having a garden party, we have a big marquee on the lawns, an afternoon tea buffet, by the most amazing country cook, you’ll ever find. We have a silent auction some jams and sauces made again by the mentoring students in cooking that are for sale, along with some plants. All the proceeds go back into the garden project.