By Narelle McLean (Canberra Organic - Spring 2020)
Gwen working in the garden beds at Mitchell. Photo: Narelle McLean

Since 2015, Gwen Bates has been gardening at the Mitchell community garden. She spent a short time as Convenor, before pursuing her love of flower gardening.

Her interests have mainly been in the flower and fruit tree areas of the garden and she has established many flower beds and resurrected the old, tired fruit tree orchard. All of which now look fantastic.

Gwen has also helped create a flower and native tree garden around the shed to provide food for the bees and the many beautiful birds that visit our garden.

Two years ago, Gwen gave up her own veggie gardening and decided to help create a Donation Garden to provide vegetables for the Communities@Work pantry in Gungahlin.

Within a short time, she was delivering tub loads of veggies to the pantry on a weekly basis. Gwen was being rewarded with the gratitude of the volunteer workers, who told her that their customers really appreciated the fresh veggies — especially the greens and tomatoes.

This year Brett, one of our garden friends, raised the height of the Donation Garden beds to provide easier gardening for Gwen and some of our visiting gardeners.

Qiwen Lin, who has been a gardener at Mitchell for years, helps Gwen in the Donation Garden with the planting decisions and watering. Together they are proving a very productive team.

Gwen and Qiwen Lin tending to the garden beds. Photo: Narelle McLean

While COVID-19 has prevented us donating veggies during the restriction period, it has given Gwen and Qiwen time to establish the winter crops.

Looking to the future, Gwen plans to add a new section to the Donation Garden to provide a special space for visitors, including people with disability or school students, to enjoy an hour or two at our beautiful garden.