Benalla Health, St Vincent de Paul’s Society Benalla and Beechworth Correctional Centre teamed up to build wicking garden beds in people’s backyards.
The project aimed to reduce the reliance on emergency food relief, improve community connectivity and increase people’s knowledge, confidence and skills to grow their own food at home.
The Benalla Grow Your Own project has built 51 garden beds between 2016-17. An additional 23 garden beds were built in 2018-19 with funding from the Sidney Myer Fund.
The Benalla Men Shed built the gardens with Beechworth Correctional Centre installing the garden beds. Annual Spring and Autumn planting festivals were held, including cooking with the kids and free seedlings.
- Lived in Benalla
- Had children under 18 years living at home
- Have accessed emergency food relief
- Be willing to give gardening a go
These results are for the latest 23 garden boxes built. The adapted USDA Community Garden Survey with garden participants 3 months after their garden was installed. The gardens reached 30 adults and 50 children.
Surveys were conducted with 18 participants (78%).
- 33% eating more fruit and 61% more vegetables
- 28% eating less packaged foods
- 56% spending more time active or outside
- 78% are sharing excess food with others
- 51% felt more involved with their neighbourhood
- 67% learned about gardening
- 78% improved gardening or cooking skills
- 94% teaching family/friends to garden
- 78% spending more time with the family
- 72% felt more independent
- 94% better able to provide for their family
The number of people who felt more involved in their neighbourhood increased from 25% to 82%.
Food insecurity declined between 2016 and 2017, with a 15% decline in accessing emergency food relief. The majority (82%) reported a weekly financial saving rom growing their own food. Most reported a saving of $6-10/ week (equivalent of $312-$520 per year).
The project has continued to indicate positive outcomes with a cost-savings. An increasing number of families have been requesting wicking garden beds. Continued mentoring of families is essential. There is a great potential to expand the project out to more families within Benalla.