Compass Housing tenants, Muswellbrook residents join forces to plant two large gardens at Glenbawn Street complex

COMPASS Housing tenants and other members of the Muswellbrook community recently joined an expert from the Royal Botanic Gardens to build and plant two large gardens at the organisation's Glenbawn Street social housing complex.

The garden is an initiative of Compass' local Tenant Reference Group.

Tenants were consulted and requested the garden include avocado trees, citrus trees, flowers and salad crops.

There will also be a bush tucker section.

A recently awarded $2000 community grant from Muswellbrook Shire Council will help fund the equipment for the tenants' ongoing maintenance of the garden and grounds.

Compass Housing's sustainability manager Jandy McCandless said community gardens were an important part of Compass' tenant engagement and empowerment programs.

She added that Brenden Moore, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, had helped Compass to create other gardens for tenants in other parts of the Hunter and NSW.

"In other gardens installed in Compass properties, there have been positive results above and beyond the expected improvements in nutrition and social interaction," Ms McCandless said.

"Creating community gardens help our tenants to develop life skills, reduce social isolation and boredom as well as increase social interaction.

"At Compass, we see our role as being much more than putting a roof over our tenants' heads.

"By providing them with life skills, as well as access to education, training and mentoring, we can help to create pathways out of disadvantage."

Muswellbrook-based community participation officer Kristy King said the gardens also brought Compass staff and tenants together.

"Gardening can also support good mental health," she explained.

"Compass runs a NSW Government-funded Shout Out Mental Health program and a team member attended the garden project with afternoon tea for participants."

The Glenbawn Street complex has 15 tenants.

Compass Housing is a Hunter-based, Tier 1, not-for-profit community housing provider.