April 4, 2018

Goodbye Green Gym

Story and photos by Russ Grayson, March 2018

Celebration tinged with sadness was the vibe at the farewell lunch to say goodbye to The Green Gym team. It was a celebration of time together mixed with the sadness of an experience ending.

Organised by Conservation Volunteers Australia, The Green Gym is a health-through-exercise program for older people that also has the benefit of bringing people together to reduce the social isolation experienced by so many. The exercise takes the form of gardening.

The Green Gym came to the Permaculture Interpretive Garden (PIG) in Randwick when Australian Conservation Volunteers approached Randwick Council. Over the months that followed an enthusiastic crew did maintenance work in the PIG where they joined the weekly PermaBee, a program the initiative of council’s sustainability unit designed to provide social contact and learning and led by horticultural educators Jon Kingston and Emma Daniel. 

Stacking functions for a mixed yield

The presence of The Green Gym and the Permabee community volunteer program demonstrates how the PIG creates a yield of social value as well as learning and food. This is an example of the permaculture principle of ‘stacking functions’ in design, of making designs multifunction, multiple-purpose and multiple-yield. It also enacts the permaculture principle of working with those who want to learn.

The PIG is a design element in what has become a multiple purpose regional park in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. With its remnant Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub, the open space of the Munda Street Reserve, the classroom-on-the-commons, the PIG and the community centre building that has been retrofitted for energy and water efficiency, the park hosts council’s community resilience courses in food growing, the Living Smart course, community leadership course and introductory permaculture.

The park hosts International Permaculture Day, the annual Ecoliving Fair, community swap parties in National Recycling Week and other times. The Green Gym was yet another function laid on the matrix of education, public amenity and special events that makes the park a regional focus.


Photo below: Some of the Green Gym celebrate their last day with the some of the Permaculture Interpretive Garden's PermaBee garden volunteers who meet every Friday from 9:30-12:30pm unless it is raining or a public holiday.

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