Hobby farmer grows village garden

A spot of vacant land and a passion for landscaping were all one retiree needed to create a thriving small crop garden.

Former landscaper Les Mills has created a beautiful garden for residents at Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village in Bargara.


Former landscaper Les Mills has taken “backyard farming’’ to a new level by creating a 4,000 square metre small crop garden at Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village in the space of only four years.

A keen advocate for the health benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables, Mr Mills leads a team of residents who plough any spare time into establishing a show-stopping display of everything from pumpkins to spinach.

The huge bounty provides the RetireAustralia village with some of the best and freshest dinner ingredients in Bargara.

“I wanted to create a community garden for everyone in the village to enjoy, as well as provide a steady stream of fresh produce,” Mr Mills said.

“A team of committed residents has worked on the community garden for four years and we now have an acre of productive plants,’’ he said.

“At the moment we’re producing good quantities of pumpkins, pawpaw, bananas, zucchini, tomatoes, and spinach.

“Home-made pumpkin soup has been a favourite among our residents as we’ve harvested about 75 pumpkins this year. We also have cucumbers, cumquats, lemons and herbs – something for everyone really.”

Acting Village Manager Belinda Hensler said the community garden gives residents a sense of purpose and connection.

“When Les asked RetireAustralia if he could create a community garden on some vacant land in the village grounds, we were thrilled to be able to assist,’’ Ms Hensler said.

“He has put together a dedicated team of residents to look after the garden, recruiting former builders and fellow green thumbs.

“We have other generous residents who contribute financially, and their donations go towards maintaining the garden and purchasing seeds, fertiliser and building materials.

“There is an abundance of produce every month, which is put into the community centre for residents to take home.’’

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