Grow some positivity: Fremantle Social Farm

Founder and chief executive of Growing Change Renee Gardiner and operations manager Jess Stenhouse. Picture: Will Russell        www.communitypix.com.au   d444476
Founder and chief executive of Growing Change Renee Gardiner and operations manager Jess Stenhouse. Picture: Will Russell        www.communitypix.com.au d444476

BEFORE Renee Gardiner lost her mother to suicide, she watched as the stigma and isolation attached to mental illness slowly made her disease worse.

One of the few shining lights was gardening, and she would watch her mother work in the garden for hours at a time.

“I grew up under the warmth of her love for gardening and could see how beneficial it was for her,” Ms Gardiner said.

Determined to make a difference in the lives of others, Ms Gardiner founded Growing Change Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes social inclusion and interaction through growing,

Now they are looking to set up the Fremantle Social Farm on the North Fremantle Bowling Club’s unused greens, creating 27 active farm beds where people can grow an assortment of vegetables.

She said the idea was to reduce social isolation, increase social connection, improve physical and mental health and develop new skills.

“The Homeless Garden Project in California has been operating since 1990 and provide training and transitional employment programs to support people experiencing homelessness to enter the workforce,” she said.

“We are not aware of any micro-farming businesses like our model operating in Australia and we believe this is completely unique to Growing Change and Fremantle as a result.

“We’ve had a really positive response so far, with residents passing on their support.”

Consultation with local residents closes on October 15.

Visit www.fremantlesocialfarm.growingchange.net.au for more information.