Calling All Green Thumbs and Helping Hands

By Meredith Kirton MAIH RH

Have you ever pondered about gardening for the elderly?  It’s something that research has shown is beneficial not only for the people gardening, but also great for the wellbeing and enablement of the clients that receive the help.

Group of volunteers at Easy Care Gardening. Image credit: Easy Care Gardening Inc.

Gardening for our most frail and vulnerable members of the community is what Easy Care Gardening Inc. is all about. They’ve been doing it for over three decades in the Hornsby Shire, Ku-ring-gai Council, The City of Ryde and Hunters Hill Council. These areas are often bordered by bush, so keeping environmental weeds like privet, lantana and camphor laurel under control has extra importance for our environment. Their teams of volunteers compiles hundreds of regulars, but is supplemented with enormous effort by some corporate teams joining their crews. The extra peoplepower allows them to tackle gardens that have become jungles, with many hands truly making light work.

Easy Care Gardening Inc. is SO proud of their volunteer community who have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID pandemic to help garden for their neighbours. “We want to put our hands together and give them all a round of applause – and if we could, a big hug!” says Meredith Kirton MAIH RH, who is helping with some marketing for the charity.

This vital service helps over a thousand households stay living independently at home.  The friendly volunteers weed, rake, tidy and trim their way through mountains of unruly gardens, keeping environmental weeds in check and helping to make the gardens of our most vulnerable citizens safer places for them to enjoy their outdoors.  In the process they make friends, make a difference, and it’s great for their health and wellbeing.

The organization started over three decades ago, and one of Easy Care Gardening’s newest members Tim Kenning says “I like helping out people who need us.  As an arborist in a past life (working at Ku-ring-gai Council) I enjoy the healthy lifestyle gardening offers, as well as learning from the other volunteers and clients.  We brighten the days of others, and there’s a lot of satisfaction in that.

Larissa Hansen Easy Care Gardening Coordinator and Costa Georgiadis MAIH RH. Image Credit: Easy Care Gardening Inc.

The majority of clients who come to Easy Care Gardening feel that they are unable to cope at home as their garden is overgrown and paths have become slippery and dangerous. The amazing volunteers chip away at the jungle, returning it to an area they can actually utilise safely.  In most cases they cannot afford expensive commercial rates for gardening so without this important service, these people are at risk of premature or unnecessary institutionalisation.

The qualified coordinators work with the team leaders to ensure that the work is carried out in a timely and proper manner, but it’s SO much more than gardening. “The clients are really in need and you see at the end of a short stint what a difference working as a team has made to their lives.  They are so incredibly grateful,” says Larissa Hansen, Coordinator “At the middle of the session we break and have a cuppa together with the client too, which is wonderful for them to have that social interaction.”

Judy Horton OAM MAIH. Image credit: Easy Care Gardening Inc.

With National Volunteers Week just behind us, it’s a timely reminder that you are all invited to put your hand up and help out – and Easy Care Gardening are calling on our professional community to get them dirty in the garden with them too.  Perhaps your staff would love to experience the joy of volunteering as a corporate ‘giving back’ day, or you just want to come along and help for a few hours a month – they can accommodate volunteers any way and anytime!

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