Rochester Kinder community garden vision realised

Fosterville Gold Mine was thrilled to recently support the Rochester Kindergarten to create its own community garden with the help of one of our community grants. The garden was officially launched on Thursday 18 April, 2024 and we loved being there to celebrate with them.

At the event, Libby Nisbet, the early childhood educator who had the vision for the garden shared the story of the garden, and with her kind permission we have shared her words below:

"In March last year we first moved into our new building here after the floods in October 2022. Many of our families were living in caravans without any access to gardens or green spaces. We, as educators, know that exposure to nature reduces stress in children by as much as 28%. So, I posed the question – “what if we do something with the area out the front to make it a place for people to escape caravan life, we could even grow vegetables to share with the families!” Rhiannon, quite sensibly, said “you go with that”, probably knowing what I was in for! Thank you for trusting me.

 We started with 2 Veggie Pods salvaged from our old kindergarten and enthusiastic young gardeners who helped plant and care for our first veggie seedlings which, when ripe, we shared with our families – and so it began. Watering was our first difficulty as there weren’t any taps here at the front of the building, so it was done through many trips, back and forth, with child-sized watering cans. Many children were very involved in the feeding of the plants with our own, kindergarten produced worm wee.

Our PAG President, Emma Todd, is a guru of applying for grants so with her expertise, and my green thumbs which were no help at all, we applied to the Fosterville Mine Community Grant and were very privileged and extremely excited to be one of the recipients.

Through the grant, and with great help from dedicated families and staff who turned up for our working bee on one of the hottest Total Fire Ban days of the year, we were able to source much of what you see here today from local businesses and producers, including a mobile moo poo delivery!

Our particular thanks go to:

  • Fosterville Gold Mine - for the grant that has made all this, possible.
  • Darling Irrigation and Bushman's Tanks - for the donation of our new water tank and its delivery.
  • Russcycled - for our potting bench and market stall which was a perfect example of how well Emma understood my garbled ideas and made enough sense of them to get them made!
  • Rochester Nursery – for allowing me to pick their brains and for them choosing great trees for us, not only in well advanced specimens but types that will cope with wet feet IF we flood again.
  • Shine Bright EYM for helping with the grant application and for supporting the idea from the beginning.
  • Parents and Guardians – for supporting our ideas wholeheartedly and for letting me run free!
  • Alan and Kyle Williams – for making our life so much easier by plumbing in a tap out the front for us as well as helping with the sprinkler system.
  • Jarred Kelly – for helping with the tank delivery and for the taking down of the mural from our old building and the putting up of said mural here, where, you must agree, it looks amazing!
  • The families – who showed up, worked hard, planted trees, carted gravel, built a shed for the shed that’s not a shed, shovelled moo poo, donated their time & made delicious food for today.
  • I have to say a special thank you to my long-suffering husband, Chris who put up with me asking him constantly to move this, put that there, add this and can you come over to the kindergarten again? He will probably continue to do so for a long time to come!!

Our heartfelt thanks to you all, we’re proud to see how the space has transformed and how we have pulled it together by working together.

This is not the end though … as I may have one or two ideas for future works!"