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11 Jan 2022

Meet the gardeners who are growing skills, community and a bumper crop

Written by Lucy Ridge from Riotact.

Marymead’s Urban Land Community Harvest – aka mulch – is a horticultural social enterprise that gives disabled adults the chance to become market gardeners. And they’re working towards a bumper crop this season!

Marymead is a not-for-profit organisation that has been working to improve the lives of young and vulnerable people in the Canberra region since 1967.

Mulch operates with four staff members each day who work with between five and nine participants, thoughtfully scheduled in order to ensure everyone can access the level of support they require, while also having enough work to do.


Marymead’s manager of skills development and community engagement Helen Gardner explains this program works to flip the script on the concept of people with a disability being recipients and instead empowers them with life skills to be producers who make a meaningful contribution to the community.

“This is all about building skills, building teamwork, building connection and belonging,” Helen tells Region Media, on her last day in the role.

“Everyone who comes here has a sense of ownership over this place and the mulch team is (comprised of) participants and staff: the mulchers are everybody.”

Helen has been with mulch since the beginning, helping to establish the program in 2013 at the initial site in Narrabundah.

Their current home in Stirling was a blank slate when they moved there in 2017, but now it’s a thriving garden with polytunnels, composting bays, chicken coop, sheds, and water tanks.