I have sitting with me Barb Gardam, otherwise known around the patch as Nanny Barb. Nanny Barb is often dressed in bright, rainbow coloured clothes with matching, piercing blue eyes. She is regularly seen armed with an assortment of home-made goodies. I asked Barb what she likes growing.
“My passion is tomatoes. I like cherry tomatoes, because they seem to grow themselves. I love black Russians because they have a sweetness that you don’t seem to find inn other tomatoes”
Barb has adopted 4 raised beds under the eucalypt tree, adjacent to the hot house at the Okines Community Garden in Dodges Ferry. Another local volunteer, and architect student, Antony Cox has designed and built her a seat, made out of recycled wood and metal objects (fashioned in the shape of a fish).
“I put the 4 beds in as a trial patch, to grow food for the Community House, for their lunches and eating with Friends program. It just shows we can grow things, I think I will be a bit more choosey about what I will grow next time”.
Have you still got anything in the ground?
“I didn’t get a lot off our tomatoes this year, I didn’t hover over them. I pulled them and hung them out so anything that ripens we can use. I’m getting the beds ready for winter now, for brassicas and brussel sprouts”.
When asked if gardening had always been a part of her life, Barb responded:
“Dad loved tomatoes and brussel sprouts, when I left school in summer I had a plant counter at Woolworths in London. It wasn’t like the checkout registers of today. You’d stand behind the counter behind an old cash register that you press down, with a draw that shoots out at you. We would sell seedlings singularly, one or 2, and wrap them in newspaper. If any were damaged I got to take them home, and to my surprise they grew”.
“The kids loved fresh home grown vegies, none of them are frantically good gardeners right now, but that’s alright they know where they comes from”.
Barb referenced the Bible a couple of times during our conversation. She draws her wisdom from experience and collective trust. When I asked her what she loves about the Community Garden and why she keeps coming back this is what she said.
“Trees to me have a sense of strength balance and stability some-how. An energy. I’ve got all I need here [in Dodges Ferry]… I can sing and dance. At the community garden there’s a sense of stillness, not a flat stillness, a dynamic revitalising energy. It comes out of the ground”.
“I like the company too, and the company seems to like me. I gain knowledge, learning through conversing and workshops, and I feel I can contribute in a small way. Helping out in the food coop, cleaning up and helping out at the Community House, making bits and pieces out of left over food, and tending to the little garden beds”.