The Salvation Army Watch Them Grow nursery at Riverview are holding a large open day and plant sale. Peter Strong, Wayne Curtis and Elisha Courtney.
The Salvation Army Watch Them Grow nursery at Riverview are holding a large open day and plant sale. Peter Strong, Wayne Curtis and Elisha Courtney. David Nielsen

Nursery opening doors to community

A SEED of an idea has grown into a fully-fledged reality as the Salvation Army's 'Watch Them Grow' nursery prepares for its open day on Saturday.

Jeanette Parsons, horticulturist in charge of the Riverview nursery, said if it is successful, the pilot program is likely to be rolled out nationally be the charity.

"Our goal is to grow 99% of what we sell, and we are getting very close to that mark,” Mrs Parsons said.

Launched 18 months ago, the nursery provides job skilling and training, as well as raising money for the Salvation Army's charity projects.

With 35 volunteers and a cadre of 'Work for the Dole' participants, Mrs Parsons said there are times when the yards are like 'a meeting of the United Nations'.

"We have Sri Lankans, the UK, New Zealanders, a Tongan, a Romanian, Africans and many more all working here.

"We get visits from garden clubs, and they always give us great feedback on the staff, you don't know the difference between the participants and the volunteers.”

To showcase the activities of the nursery, Mrs Parsons said there is an open day and sale this weekend.

"We are opening the doors to the community, with everything on sale, they can some in, have a look around and grab a bargain.”

With a plan to make the nursery operation self-sustaining and environmentally friendly, Mrs Parsons said participants were making carry boxes out of scrap cardboard.

"People bring back pots to us, we wash and disinfect them and then reuse them, to reduce the number of new pots we need to buy.

"We also propagate our own plants, I have a small hothouse and a potting area where cuttings are split off and grown in mini pots.”

Mrs Parsons said all plants are 'sun hardened' before going on sale, to increase survivability when they are planted.

"We have a number of shadecloth igloos, but they are only to protect from hail, we make sure the palnts have a good chance to thriving when they get to their new homes.”

The open day runs from 8am to 2pm on Saturday September 3, at the Salvation Army farm, Endeavour Road, Riverview, with a sausage sizzle, jumping castle and cold drinks also available.

"Our only rule is that visitors must wear enclosed footwear, this is a working nursery, so we have to enforce no 'open toe' footwear is permitted in the work areas.”

To find out more, call Jeanette Parsons on 0439 621 995.



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