In 1988 a small plot of land on Cooinda Aged Care was planted with citrus trees; it was called the Bicentennial Orchard and was used to encourage residents to get outdoors, get active and socialise. In 2011 the orchard became the primary focus for a community-owned garden in Gympie, as an initiative of Queensland Health. The idea was to improve community health and was the responsibility of the Community Nutritionist at Gympie Hospital and was later helped by the State Community Development Officer for Gympie district. Gympie Regional Council provided some funds to purchase tools.
Funding was also received from ‘The Swap It, Don’t Stop It’ program so the gardens could hold open days, which featured speakers, workshops and free healthy food. Under the ‘Go for 2 & 5’ initiative funding was won for tools and other equipment and to build raised garden beds. Bendigo Bank provided funding to fence the area from cheeky kangaroos. The bank assists wherever it can, and provides marquees for all our open days and workshops.
The gardens were initially auspiced under the Cooloola Human Services Network (CHSN). Sadly, the two officer positions were made redundant. But the Gympie Council’s Community Development section was very helpful and supportive after this loss – and still is.
The garden became incorporated in December 2014 and is an affiliate club of Garden Clubs of Australia, which allows us to obtain affordable public liability insurance.
In early 2016, Cooinda Aged Care informed the gardens that we would have to relocate as construction of additional facilities was scheduled for the site.
And so our search began for a new site. We waited and waited. Our patience paid off in August 2019 when we signed a licence agreement with Gympie Regional Council for a block at 37 Tozer Park Road, opposite the aquatic centre.