Nursery gives bush a helping hand

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Community Nursery volunteers Marion Helwig, Kim Jackson, Julie Dwyer, Ken Vailey and Russell Coupe with some of the native plants grown in the nursery.
Camera IconCommunity Nursery volunteers Marion Helwig, Kim Jackson, Julie Dwyer, Ken Vailey and Russell Coupe with some of the native plants grown in the nursery. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian, Francesca Mann The Geraldton Guardian

For four days a week, the Community Nursery in Waggrakine is a bustling hive of activity as volunteers grow native plants to help revegetate local bush and beach areas.

Running since 2004, the Community Nursery grows a wide range of local plants that are used to combat damage to the natural bushland.

In 2017, the volunteers grew a record-breaking total of 33,000 plants. This year, with 50 volunteers on the books, the team hopes to grow 20,000.

City of Greater Geraldton Community Nursery and natural areas officer Wendy Payne said the nursery was an opportunity for people to give the environment a much-needed helping hand.

“We’re very fortunate in Geraldton — we have all the comforts of a big city but we also have the bush right there,” she said.

“The bush is impacted by so many things, weeds, feral animals, people going four-wheel-driving; we almost love it to death.

“Sometimes it doesn’t recover easily from the pressures and sometimes the only way to help is through revegetation.

“Coming here makes me feel like I can do something, it’s very empowering.”

Originally in Pass Street, Wonthella, the nursery moved to Adelaide Street, Waggrakine, in 2013. Over the years, the nursery has become more than just a place to grow plants, with the team also conducting their own research on the best way to germinate different seeds.

All of the work done by volunteers over the past four years has been recorded.

While some of the knowledge has been gathered through trial and error, Ms Payne said the group had picked up a lot of tips and tricks verbally. “A lot of what we do is germination techniques that have been passed down,” she said.

“For example, we were told the nitraria billardieri, or sea grape, has to pass through the gut of a bird before it will grow.

“We need it written down; if the nursery closes tomorrow, then we’ll still have all that information.”

Ms Payne said the team hoped to publish a booklet detailing the research.

“People would be able to access the booklet,” she said.

“Anyone can (germinate seeds) with these methods, it’s not high tech.

“It’s all about co-operation, the more you co-operate the more you get done.”

For the army of volunteers, aged from 18 to 82, the Community Nursery is also a chance to get outside and meet new people.

The nursery is currently unable to take on new volunteers.

But Ms Payne said those interested in helping out could contact the City of Greater Geraldton and be placed on the waiting list.

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