We know you love using the Vegepod at home but the Vegepod is also the garden bed of choice for community settings due to the accessible, low-maintenance and contained design. We’ve been able to see the many therapeutic and physical health benefits it has brought to individuals, and the way these garden beds have activated communal spaces.
Young Veterans is a volunteer run charity that was established in 2012 and initially started as Facebook page for fellow veterans to connect and support each other, eventually becoming it's own registered charity 5 years ago.
Young Veterans run outdoor activities for members of the veteran community like offroad racing, camping, riding & gardening. These outdoor activities provide benefits from not only getting outside and active but also therapeutic benefits that come from connection with others. Ward 17 at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital VIC is a ward giving inpatient care providing a supportive therapeutic environment for outpatients recovering from PTSD and a range of other mental health issues, which is where the Young Veterans gardening program is based.
Mathew Keene OAM, who is the volunteer National Director at Young Veterans and an Iraq veteran himself, purchased four Large Vegepods with Large Stands in September 2022 at our stand at the Royal Melbourne Show and knew the accessibility factors of the Vegepod were ideal for the Young Veterans community garden at Ward 17.
The Vegepods are known as the "mindfulness garden" at Ward 17 with the Young Veterans community being able to grow lots of herbs, strawberries, lettuces, spring onions & chillies amongst other veg. Carrots have been a popular veg that has been grown to not only cook with at Ward 17 (carrot cake being a favourite!) but to provide free carrots to the neighbouring riding school who have been spending a fortune on carrots for the horse feed.
Young Veterans also run pizza nights as an activity so all the things grown in the Vegepods are used for adding some fresh flavours to homemade pizzas. Ornamental poppies have also been grown in the pods as a sign of commemoration but also to encourage pollination from the nearby bee hives and promote biodiversity in the garden.
Not only is the community able to grow, cook and eat from the Vegepods but Mat told us that the maintenance of the Vegepods provides structure and routine to the lives of the veterans there- whether that is planting & harvesting or the upkeep jobs like replanting, watering or weeding the pods.
The Vegepod garden has allowed not only the veterans to enjoy the Vegepods but the nurses at the hospital are also able to reap the therapeutic benefits that come from gardening and having a place to retreat to outdoors like the garden, which is why Mat is keen to expand the amount of Vegepods in the future.
We can't wait to see what is next for Young Veterans- grow you good things!
Vegepods under construction at Ward 17:
The Vegepod construction, growth, harvest and culinary journey at Young Veterans:
The garden harvest from the Vegepods: