Les Dunn and IDEA service manager Corlette Doherty check out his garden. PHOTO/LISA URBANI

Lisa Urbani

A small vegetable garden is the great pride and joy of Les Dunn, 61, a service user of IDEA services.

Through the kindness of three Masterton businesses, he has been able to realise his goal.

Les lives in a residential care home with four other men, and is very proud to be able to prepare a salad for his housemates, using his own tomatoes and lettuce.

IDEA service manager Corlette Doherty, his support person, noticed that Les was feeling bored.

She said he was not enjoying socialising at the day base, where service users can interact with each other.

What he wanted was to be outdoors, doing something, and he did enjoy gardening and lawn mowing.

The idea of the vegetable garden was hers, and she had nothing but praise for those who contributed.

“They were wonderful, nothing was a problem and they all engaged with him,” Corlette said.

“We want service users to be able to engage in the community, as we do, as much as possible, ensuring that their safety and risks are taken into account.”

Les was able to get wood offcuts from Mitre 10.

Trade manager Steve MacDonald said Les “had an idea of what he wanted, we made a couple of suggestions and tweaked his ideas”.

Henley Men’s Shed also assisted with the planning and building of the raised beds.

“It comes down to Henley Men’s Shed’s philosophy of helping people in the community, and fits in with what we’re all about” shed coordinator John Bush said.

Garden Barn also kindly donated plants and compost, with manager Carol Hatchard saying they were happy to get involved.

“It’s a good thing to encourage him … and for him to feel it was something worthwhile.”

Each interaction allowed Les to learn, and encouraged him to think about expanding his operation and including other service users.

If funding permits, IDEA will set up a greenhouse at their premises in Bentley St, to propagate seeds and grow more plants.

To encourage health and wellbeing among service users, and a walking group is being set up, with the end goal to walk to Donnelly Flat to have a picnic

Volunteers for these projects, anyone with a particular interest or skill to share, and time to spare, can contact IDEA to get involved (06) 370 6450.