What started as a small patch of grassy paddock with a few sheep and wallaby, is now producing its first kilos of freshly harvested heirloom vegetables. Located within a stone’s throw of the Spring Bay Mills entrance is a unique organic production veggie patch known to staff and friends of the Spring Bay Mill as ‘Paddy’s Paddock’.
Its purpose is to supply the Mill with fresh, local, wholesome fruit and vegetables for guests and visitors.
Currently much of the bounty is destined for various community outlets including the southern community veggie box program and local community organisations. The site is being lovingly cultivated by an incredibly enthusiastic and energetic team of specialist horticulturists who just love what they are doing! And what’s not hard to love!!?? The location is picture perfect with magnificent vistas across
Spring Bay and the farm land surrounds, and on most days it’s a gardener’s and visitors pleasure to be there. The location is also a great environment for growing specialist organic fruit and vegetables, largely due to its geography and the proximity of the large water expanses of the bay. This gives it a distinct microclimate that moderates extremes and allows for all kinds of fascinating exotic edibles all year round.
The site has also been established as a place for community learning with many regular visits already by students from the local Triabunna District School, and adult horticultural students from Sorell and Bridgewater. The students work and interact with the Mills professional horticulturists, engaging in various garden activities from planting to organic composting. There is much more to come with future programs including community organic horticulture programs and professional horticulture study opportunities.
The Garden is unlike many other standard commercial fresh food gardens. It has been designed and planted in a manner that maximises the potential for the development of an incredibly rich area of biodiversity, both animal and vegetable. This biodiversity creates an environment that pushes the boundaries of traditional plantings; the rows are not all straight here, the plantings are mixed, and what some might say are “pleasantly confused”. However, it’s not a random planting, there is a plan within the design.
Inherent within this is the intention to mimic natural systems and their benefits, such as providing habitat for creatures that in turn help to control pests and diseases. Planting is planned to also allow for all year-round flowering, to ensure pollen, nectar and other resources are available to the many beneficial organisms that are helping this garden thrive. The Garden also has three established bee hives with a recent harvest producing the very first jar of golden Spring Bay Honey. As well as the benefits of having these marvellous pollinators onsite, it is hoped that bee keeping will also be part of the future learning programs held at The Mill.
A wonderful range of both heirloom and specialist vegetables and fruits are being grown, with many new varieties being added all the time. There is an effort to grow not only the traditional plants that everyone knows but also to try some interesting and unusual edibles that may not be commonly seen on the supermarket shelves. It is envisaged that future onsite community learning programs will also include culinary experiences, discovering the delights of cooking with fresh produce. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to expand the palate of pleasures with some of the more exotic fruit and vegetables.
The soils of the Garden are regularly being helped to develop their potential as a highly active soil system full of beneficial micro and macro organisms, all playing their part to assist plant growth. This in turn combined with the above ground planting design will eventually provide a visually interesting, sustainable and rich growing environment. It’s a place to visit and experience the environment, perhaps learn something new or discover a new taste. A safe place suitable for all ages and an opportunity for the community to invigorate and reconnect with the natural systems.
Everyone who has seen it is very excited by the potential of the Garden and what it has already achieved in the short period in which it has been establishing. It is truly a celebration of verdant growth and the creative community involved in its development.
Spring Bay Mill is interested to hear from people in the community who would like to know more about the availability of fresh produce from the Gardens and any expressions of interest in future onsite learning programs.
Marcus Ragus, Head Horticulturalist, Spring Bay Mill