For Joan Campbell, gardening is in the genes. Her mother and grandfather were both great gardeners and Joan obviously took note as a child.
‘My grandfather was a brilliant gardener and used to show flowers at the Castlemaine Show. I can still picture his Ballarat garden, an old fashioned cottage garden, with more flowers than food. Mum had a garden at Campbells Creek the size of a tennis court. We had a paddock of irrigated lucerne and mum would clean the channel out and let the water go through the vege garden. You should have seen her carrots!’
In the community garden you can tell where Joan digs – her crops are without a bite when all around the slugs and snails are snacking, her greens are lush and leafy in the middle of summer. Joan has her own plot and shares another with her daughter-in-law Jodie. She also oversee the worm farms, a vital part of the garden.
Joan’s gardening epiphany came from reading a book – she calls it her ‘bible on compost’ – about organic gardening in1990. She started off by setting up bales of straw to make compost bays. Joan would make a ‘hot’ compost, from mixing manures, kitchen scraps, green material and then introduce worms, transforming the mix into humus.
‘It used to get red hot and then the worms would come in; it was absolutely beautiful! I can’t do what I used to (turning the compost by hand) so the chooks and the worms do all the work for me now.’
Joan lives in Campbelltown and became involved in the community garden through her connection with John and Pam Phillips at the Anglican Church (our landlords). Her husband Ewan did the fencing for the garden. Ewan and Joan were invited to the launch. Joan joined as a ‘digger’ member on the day and went from there.
‘I just liked the idea. I make the trip in for the first Saturday of the month (for the produce exchange) and I usually combine a visit to the garden when I am passing through Newstead.’
Ill health last year curtailed things a bit, but Joan’s preparing for a bountiful season ahead. ‘I’ve really enjoyed it. I slowed down a bit last year but I’m looking forward to getting things going now. I’ve got onions in, about to put in peas, rhubarb, lettuce, bush beans and zuchinni.’
‘I’m not into the scientific side of things, I don’t bother with pH tests or that sort of thing. It’s more doing it by feel.’