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“I love my kitchen garden”

46-year-old Bernadeta has long been a gardener.  

Around her home in rural Timor-Leste, she’s tried her hand at growing more than just staples. 

“I was growing vegetables such as bitter-gourd, string-beans, eggplants, water-spinach, green vegetables, lettuce and spinach,” she says. 

But it wasn’t until UnitingWorld’s partner FUSONA* offered her some assistance and invited her to help lead a gardening group that her garden became the primary source of income for her family. 

“When FUSONA’s staff came to introduce the kitchen garden program to me and my neighbours, I was excited and happy to join because they offered different seeds for us to grow and we don’t need to spend money to buy them,” said Bernadeta. 

So she joined the first training and agreed to lead a gardening group while she expanded her own kitchen garden. 

“The first time we joined as group, I learned new things and we had to decide how we would work together, assist each other and build trust,” she said.  

“At first it was a bit confusing for me as group leader to embrace all members with different ideas, characters, behaviours and mindsets, but we made decisions about how we could work for a better result for group.”  

They decided each person would work on the shared land according to what they were confident in and what they could manage.  

“It was important to acknowledge that each member would produce according to their strength and we formed a working rhythm that was understood among the group,” said Bernadeta. 

“When it comes to harvest time, we harvest and bring to the market to sell. And sometimes people are coming to our gardens and buy fresh vegetables here.” 

The group has decided they need to move to a bigger area of land in order to produce more vegetables to meet the market demand, and are working to figure out a sustainable water source for it.  

“As a group we are so pleased and thankful to FUSONA for supporting us with seeds to produce more in our gardens, said Bernadeta.  

“I love my kitchen garden and hope that FUSONA can continue to support our group with sourcing equipment as we get bigger!” 

We look forward to keeping you updated about Bernadeta’s group and the wider project.  

Thank you for helping make it happen!

Thank you to everyone who donated to support our food crisis appeal or gave gifts of seeds and kitchen gardens from our Everything in Common Gift Catalogue. You’re helping people like Bernadeta to build food security and generate an income for whole families.

*FUSONA is the development agency of the Protestant Church in Timor-Leste (IPTL), a partner of UnitingWorld and the Uniting Church in Australia.