Home Is Where Our Gardeners Are – Volunteer Week 2022

National Volunteer Week (16 May to 22 May) is Australia’s largest annual celebration of every volunteers’ vital dedication towards a better society. During this week, we’re sharing stories from a range of wonderful EcoCentre volunteers; exemplifying why we’re ‘Better Together’ when it comes to caring for our land, water, wildlife and wellbeing.

Keep reading for Nadav Zisin’s heartfelt reflection of gratitude for our wonderful and hard-working Garden Group volunteers, who always make the EcoCentre feel like home.

One of my favourite things about coming to the EcoCentre is feeling the energy that resonates from the community garden. For me, it starts at the historic EcoHouse, underneath the weeping myrtle tree and wraps around the entire EcoHouse ending up in the Wominjeka garden where I can sit and enjoy the tranquillity the space offers amidst the hustle and bustle St Kilda breathes. Each corner and crevice holds an abundance of plant life that is absolutely aesthetically pleasing but many of these indigenous plants also contain valuable sources of nutrition and traditional medicine. Thanks to our volunteer community gardeners, the EcoCentre gardens have been a place of refuge for countless community members over the years. 

This year we said goodbye to our historic EcoHouse and garden and moved across the road to our temporary site at the Cora Graves Community Centre. For many of our staff, volunteers and visitors, the relocation of the EcoCentre has been a huge adjustment. Watching the deconstruction and removal of many raised garden beds, and rehoming of pot, plants and even trees has had a huge impact on our whole community.

Thanks to the devotion of our steadfast Friday gardening volunteers, an abundance of life is now established at our temporary site at the Cora Graves Community Centre. It is really starting to look and feel like a warm and inviting work/community space. Piles of weedy + pesky plants have been removed from the garden beds that were then refilled with a nutritious mix of soil and compost brought across from the old garden by muscle power to make beds for edibles. Most corners of the new garden now host a plant from the old site and it was so great to see the bio filter being built and come back to its former glory for all of our propagating purposes. And what a grounding experience it was to be part of the planting ceremony of our new (3rd generation) grape vine and boysenberry bush. 

Staff and visitors of the EcoCentre are grateful to all of our garden volunteers for helping to make our new place of work not just a beautiful space but also an important example of resilience, passion and growth, and a great example for the broader community to see what gardening possibilities there are in small spaces.

It’s been fantastic to see our dedicated gardening group grow. And through joint forces, fresh waves of energy have swept across the garden beds, vegie patches and propagation stations of our temporary space at Cora Graves.  

I would like to give special thanks to our entire gardening group for their unwavering devotion to our community spaces over the years. 

Thank you for the smiles, the laughs, the delicious food that grows from the garden and the fresh bread that accompanies the delicious lunches you prepare and welcome me to (even though I’m usually too busy to actually help in the garden).

Thank you to all of our green thumbed vollies who have taught me how to take cuttings and propagate native plants for our EcoCentre revegetation projects as well as grow our veggies from seed. 

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Thank you so much for all the effort and dedication that goes in to our community compost and worm farms. Maintaining these integral components of our community’s waste management, regenerative and fertilising systems help the community in so many ways. 

Thanks you for your initiatives, creativity and enthusiasm to grow the gardening group to new heights through grant applications and new partnerships with other local groups. 

Thank you all for your tireless energy, your inspiration and the fresh growing and everlasting purpose you bring to the Port Phillip EcoCentre gardens.

Keen to join our Gardening Group? Your first step in growing with us is to sign up as an EcoCentre volunteer and attend one of our monthly volunteer induction events.

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The EcoCentre acknowledges the Kulin Nations, including the Yalukut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung language group, traditional owners of the land on which we are located.

We pay respects to their Elders past and present, and extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Elder members of our multicultural community.