Not to mention apple-cucumber

The joint team behind the project - Glen Innes and Inverell people and the tomato plants which will serve both communities.
The joint team behind the project - Glen Innes and Inverell people and the tomato plants which will serve both communities.

It seems simple – the enterprise for disabled people in Inverell has a garden, but it’s out in the open and fruit flies are a curse which blight tomatoes.

Glen Industries, on the other hand, has a greenhouse so it can grow tomatoes under a roof – so defeating fruit flies.

To solve the problem, the two enterprises have combined on a venture to grow tomatoes in Glen Innes, and have them transported west down the Gwydir Highway.

It’s a solution which benefits both ends of the road, and both the green-fingered gardeners who do the planting and growing and the recipients of locally grown tomatoes.

Much of the produce goes to old people’s homes, for example.

And it’s not just tomatoes. Some old types of fruit and vegetable – “heirloom” varieties – are grown in the Glen Innes garden on Church Street – exotic produce like chocolate beans and sweet basil.

It sometimes means people in retirement homes get produce they haven’t tasted for decades, according to Kylie Hawkins, the General Manager of Glen Industries. “These are people who have not tasted an apple cucumber for years,” she said, “because supermarkets no longer stock them”.

Apple-cucumber, by the way, is a type of cucumber that probably got to Australia from China. It’s sweet, small and round like an apple – hence the name.

An Australian seed manufacturer introduced it to America in the 1930s, but it’s died out there as supermarkets have grown.

And died out in Australia, except, at least, in the Glen Industries patch on Church Street.

But tomatoes are the main focus of the latest venture.

Kylie Hawkins said: “These tomatoes will be grown with love and attention and once harvested will be gifted to people in need for free within Glen Innes, Inverell, Tingha and surrounds. 

“It’s a great opportunity for participants from Inverell to get to know participants from Glen Innes, share in the activity of getting dirty, watching their efforts grow and enjoying some social time, meeting new friends.”

The Glen Innes greenhouses were covered with the aid of a grant from the state government and Northern Tablelands MP, Adam Marshall, once praised the facility:

“It ticks all the boxes as far as providing people living with a disability with a way to fully engage with the community.

“At the same time, it helps out seniors and other disadvantaged households struggling to put fresh food on their tables.”

Homes – and workers – from Glen Innes and from Inverell.