Throwing life into the Tucker Patch

Tucker Patch working group: New recruits Shyla Tyrrell, Lisa Folkes, Keiren Moore and Beejay Walker with long term volunteer Alan Hancock.
Tucker Patch working group: New recruits Shyla Tyrrell, Lisa Folkes, Keiren Moore and Beejay Walker with long term volunteer Alan Hancock.
• Shyla Tyrrell on the tractor helps Lisa Folkes, a woolhandler from Dubbo, move a load of mulch at the Tucker Patch.

• Shyla Tyrrell on the tractor helps Lisa Folkes, a woolhandler from Dubbo, move a load of mulch at the Tucker Patch.

The Tucker Patch site at Cemetery Road sparked to life last week with a new group of recruits showing their passion for Gloucester and the project.

The Tucker Patch is a demonstration market garden being constructed on the land, leased from NSW Crown Lands, on Cemetery Road, and is an initiative of the Gloucester Project. Its response to the strategic national issue of food security is to demonstrate the benefits of converting under-utilised land into valuable agricultural land.

The new Tucker Patch team of paid staff has commenced soil preparation and bed-building on the site previously used as a travelling stock reserve. The new team is welcome assistance to the long list of volunteers who’ve helped bring the Gloucester Project to the attention of government planners and politicians from across the state.

Funded by a grant received from NSW Community Builders, this group of young employees is the latest step by the Gloucester Project in demonstrating alternative regional economic development. The Project’s model includes addressing the contentious issue of regional youth employment, with a focus on alternative economic opportunities provided by food production.

The Project’s president Ken Johnson said “The Tucker Patch model aims to help form prosperous regional communities with increased employment being provided locally, as well as locally grown food freshly available to all. The spin-off for governments is an increased taxpayer base plus communities that have less demand on government assistance, while the community gets to keep their young people.”

New recruit Keiren Moore grew up in Gloucester and previously worked in corporate call centre roles in Newcastle but recently returned to his family’s property at Wallanbah.

“The education we got at school was all about getting you ready to find a career somewhere else, it was all about training you to leave. The Tucker Patch is helping train young people on food production again, a job they can have right here in Gloucester, close to home” he said.

Keiren’s colleague Beejay Walker also grew up in Gloucester and is impressed with the potential for young people to become multi-skilled in horticulture at the Tucker Patch.

“It’s a diversity of skills too, not just a skills monoculture” he said, already showing an understanding of 21st century food production principles.

The Tucker Patch is being prepared for plantings ahead of the Open Day on Sunday April 1, at which the food-growing guru Costa Georgiadis will be guest speaker.