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HVO apprentices get green thumbs up at community garden


A group of Hunter Valley Operation’s (HVO) apprentices put their trade skills to good use at the weekend to help spruce up the Singleton Community Garden.

The team of 23 joined other HVO staff and tradespeople from local building services company, Buildtell, to erect 12 new raised beds, help clean up and weed the garden, and give the shed a new coat of paint.

Singleton Community Garden president Paige Gough said the HVO’s support in supplying materials and employees had given the organisation’s expansion plans a much-needed boost.

“The work has more than doubled the number of beds,” she explained.

“During COVID our membership declined but we are back up to 35 members and we’ve been wanting to expand the beds and orchard.

“We are trying to create a really productive drought tolerant, permaculture garden to produce a wide variety of fresh, healthy produce for people to enjoy.

“The new beds will use an adaptation of the German hügelkultur method of placing soil on top of thick layered compost material to help retain moisture.”

HVO’s learning and development coordinator Paul Watters co-ordinated the support project.

He said the initiative benefitted the apprentices, as well as the Upper Hunter community.

“Our trainees support a community project annually but, in 2023, the plan is to do two a year,” Ms Watters added.

“It was a great learning opportunity for our apprentices to work with Buildtell’s qualified tradespeople and adapt their skills to work on a different sort of project.

“And, it’s a terrific example of how community can come together to support one another in a beneficial and sustainable way.

“We’re also teaching our apprentices the value of fresh produce in having a healthy lifestyle and hopefully giving them green thumbs.” 

The community garden in Bathurst Street was established in 2014 on a former tennis court.

As well as vegetable gardens, there is a small orchard, a bird attracting garden and an Indigenous learning circle with native plants.

Ms Gough said the group allowed people to connect over a love of gardening and growing fresh produce.

“Members also work to help each other and the broader community to learn about gardening, soils as well as seed collection, and seed saving for their own gardens,” she stated.

Membership of the group is $20 a year.

The garden is communal with everyone sharing what is grown.

Excess produce is also donated to Open Door and other community groups to help feed local people in need.

Members work on the garden throughout the week, but the committee is there every Sunday morning to welcome new members.

For further information or to join the garden group, visit the Singleton Community Garden Facebook page.

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