‘There’s only one community garden within walking distance,’ says the teller at Bendigo wholefoods. 'Gravel Hill Gardens.'
He wasn’t too friendly as Ms Tagalong explained her mission. Must have been because she had no purchases in hand.
Smiling anyway she sets off on her awfully big adventure into the wilds of Bendigo, well about three streets down and as many across.
The garden spreads down the hill, a mixture of private and communal plots with red private signs advising you not to pick others’ produce. On this sunny lunchtime only one couple are working in the garden.
A softly smiling lady bows her head in acknowledgement of Ms Tagalong’s greeting. She shyly explains that she, Jkyawparnt, and her husband, Lahsu, came from Burma as refugees in 2007.
‘We were first Asians here,’ he proudly says as he guides Ms Tagalong under the grape arch and into his fenced plot with beds piled high with manure.
Ms Tagalong wasn’t sure if this was the time to tell him that the Chinese were here over a hundred years ago, an integral part of the goldrush hereabouts. He assented but repeated that he and his wife came from the borders of Thailand and Burma, the forerunners of about four to five hundred Asian refugees settled here.
He explains that these are water beds, ridged high with the seedlings planted in the shallow of the furrows. Ms Tagalong was not able to ascertain what crops were actually grown here as they were not familiar to her but she thought he said they tasted good with frogs!
Lahsu said that Ms Tagalong should come back on Thursday to speak to the co-ordinator Mark but she had other obligations. Remember the futsal tournament?
Ms Tagalong left them to their hard work and meandered the many plots cordoned off by fences, stones and hedges of beans.
At the foot of the hill she was very impressed by the mounds of lawn clippings left by locals which contribute to the much needed compost. An idea which should be adopted at Tighes Hill she thought.
So far the mound is not very impressive - in fact no-one seems to have noticed the sign.
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