Taradale Community Trees

Glenn and Jon connect to community and the environment with Golden City Support Services

Have you noticed by the side of the road or on vacant blocks old neglected fruit trees?

Jon and Glenn saw a number of old fruit trees in their local area of Taradale and decided to take an interest in them. Glenn works for Golden City Support Services and supports Jon to find activities in his local community to get involved in. Both Jon and Glenn love being outdoors and feel connected to the local environment. Jon grew up in Taradale and attended the small local school which has managed to survive and continues to educate local children.

Glenn works for Golden City Support Services and supports Jon to find activities in his local community to get involved in. Both Jon and Glenn love being outdoors and feel connected to the local environment. Jon grew up in Taradale and attended the small local school which has managed to survive and continues to educate local children.

Both Jon and Glenn love being outdoors and feel connected to the local environment. Jon grew up in Taradale and attended the small local school which has managed to survive and continues to educate local children.

In some ways, Jon is restricted in what he can choose to do. Jon is quiet and not the sort of person who thrives in busy, bustling environments. There are not many employment options in his area for someone like him with an intellectual disability. He could easily slip into a socially isolated lifestyle. But Jon does have a passion and interest in the natural world and Glenn has helped him explore this to connect him with his local area and with local people.

There are not many employment options in his area for someone like him with an intellectual disability. He could easily slip into a socially isolated lifestyle. But Jon does have a passion and interest in the natural world and Glenn has helped him explore this to connect him with his local area and with local people.

The project Jon and Glenn have developed brings old and neglected fruit trees back into productive health. They have discovered these trees in all sorts of places. Some of them are just on the side of roads and small lanes. Some are on parcels of unused crown land and some are alongside the train line that runs through Taradale. They are mostly apple and pear trees plus a few peaches (apparently delicious!). They are trees that clearly have a history and go back to a time when many more people lived in Taradale and when producing local food was an essential aspect of daily life.

Some of them are just on the side of roads and small lanes. Some are on parcels of unused crown land and some are alongside the train line that runs through Taradale. They are mostly apple and pear trees plus a few peaches (apparently delicious!). They are trees that clearly have a history and go back to a time when many more people lived in Taradale and when producing local food was an essential aspect of daily life.

They are trees that clearly have a history and go back to a time when many more people lived in Taradale and when producing local food was an essential aspect of daily life.

Jon and Glenn have gradually been pruning, weeding, manuring and mulching the trees. The trees are responding well and this year there has been lots of fruit. The next challenge is to harvest the fruit before the cockatoos do. Local people are noticing what Jon and Glenn are doing. It’s an opportunity to have some good conversations. One woman who lives close to where the peach trees

The next challenge is to harvest the fruit before the cockatoos do. Local people are noticing what Jon and Glenn are doing. It’s an opportunity to have some good conversations. One woman who lives close to where the peach trees

Local people are noticing what Jon and Glenn are doing. It’s an opportunity to have some good conversations. One woman who lives close to where the peach trees

One woman who lives close to where the peach trees came over to see what Jon and Glenn were doing and offered them some netting for the trees. That meant that they were at least able to keep the birds off some of those delicious peaches.

Another person they have talked with is an ex-local council member who has been very supportive and helped them think about how they might make better use of some of the crown land in the area.

Tending to the trees is a simple local act but it has bigger and wider meaning. Jon is clearly proud of his trees and of what they represent. He is able to nurture and look after them and he is recognised for what he is achieving with them. They connect him to where he lives and to a sense of belonging.

Belonging is something we can often take for granted if it has never been questioned for us. For people who don’t get the kind of social reinforcement of belonging that things like having a regular job or other ways of conventionally ‘fitting in’, then belonging becomes a question rather than something that can be assumed.

Supporting people like Jon to find their own path to belonging is an important goal in the work that Golden City Support Services does. Glenn has given a clear demonstration of how that can be achieved.