Let’s do some digging into Project GROW

Gardening program Project GROW is in full bloom across Baptcare’s Residential Aged Care communities and community day centre programs. We chatted with the creator of Project GROW, Quality Business Partner Kate Flight, about her vision for the project and how that vision is playing out within our communities.

Can you tell us a bit about Project GROW?

Project GROW is a 2024 initiative that promotes time outdoors, increased physical activity and being active in the garden.

Part of the project has been designed to encourage greater use of our outdoor spaces so even happy hour and some exercise groups can occur outside rather than same room each time indoors.

Project GROW encourages our residential aged care and day centre communities to be active in the garden, growing seeds, cuttings or plants to enhance spaces both in and outside while enjoying the many benefits that being in nature provides. It has been wonderful to see how all our different aged care communities have embraced the project, whether by actual physical gardening, enjoying some home-grown crops, decorating some garden spaces or enjoying more activities in our outdoor spaces.

I feel that the tagline #growingtogether sums the initiative up nicely as it refers to the growing together as a community, as well as the obvious plant reference. It is so wonderful to see how our residents are enjoying the collaboration between our aged care community sites and getting to know the Baptcare community within their home and outside.

Who is involved in Project GROW?

All 16 Residential Aged Care (RAC) sites are actively involved in Project GROW and our Retirement Living and Day Centre communities are dusting off their gardening gloves to join in the fun soon too!

What are some of the design aims of Project GROW?

It has been designed to create further opportunities:

  • for participation and co-design
  • to strengthen partnerships with local communities
  • to improve health and wellbeing gained through outdoor activity, social engagement and multi-sensory activities
  • to showcase the stories, talent, skills and creativity of our Baptcare community
  • to connect residents, staff, families and volunteers

How are things going with Project Grow?

It’s going so well! There have been so many positive outcomes such as:

  • Opportunities to learn new skills
  • Installation and planting of raised garden beds
  • Re-designing of courtyards to create more inviting spaces
  • Residential Aged Care site connection: The resident committee meets up (currently fortnightly) to share their progress, discuss their plans and highlights. It’s been a great way to share ideas and inspire others
  • Extra involvement of the Resident committees as they work towards Baptcare’s Biggest Garden Party – a collection of garden parties to be held at each site for 10 days from April 15. The Resident committees have been co-designing their own garden parties and residents at each site have chosen the menu to celebrate the project
  • ‘Grass is greener’ competition, with sunflower seeds planted simultaneously. There are now three sites with sunflowers blooming while the other sites wait in anticipation. Our tallest sunflower to date is 151cm (See amazing photos below)

  • Paddock to plate – some residents enjoying corn on the cob fresh from the garden – of course with lashings of butter. A great collaboration with lifestyle and catering teams to plant, grow and eat straight from the garden. Other sites have enjoyed fresh tomatoes or some herb scones
  • Table decorations – for those less mobile – residents have come together potting succulents and propagating plants for new table arrangements
  • Propagation station – e.g. Karingal have a table set up with various plants to see which ones work best from cuttings. Includes some garlic cloves that are planted
  • For the non -gardeners, painting and decorating has been a big part of Project GROW. Park benches have been redecorated, garden ornaments have been brightened up

Hans and Shirley from Abbey Gardens RAC

  • Treasure hunts – increasing physical activity – finding some (newly painted) hidden treasures in the garden while out on walks
  • For those less mobile – residents are being supported with 1:1 activity in their room or residents are creating small plants to take to their rooms so they can also be part of project GROW
  • Bird baths, bird houses, worm farms have been added to some sites
  • Sharing all our gardening tips to make a sharable resource

Some great watering help from our Coasthaven (above) Wattle Grove residents.

How are the staff finding Project GROW?

Our Lifestyle Co-ordinators have been amazing with the project and often share lovely feedback such as Kate’s insights below.

Kate Jeremiah, Lifestyle Co-ordinator, Heritage Manor

Project GROW has been a really great project to work on with our residents. Our residents and staff are able to collaborate informally and for those who aren't very engaged this can really help them feel comfortable without being overwhelmed by noise or crowds.

Whether it’s a walk in the garden or sitting making flowers in Art or even driving around in the bus looking at gardens around our area, everyone has really taken to the theme of the project.

Our Sunflower Garden is a very hot topic at the moment, generating lots of conversation opportunities. The men at our home are the most interested. The garden bed has become a meeting point for the blokes to stand around and compare tips. I often have three or four of them coming to report to me daily, telling me the plants need a drink or a bit of TLC. We are finally starting to see some flower buds!

One particular resident, Anne (see photo) who has spent most of her time here in her room, has started coming out to sit in the garden, water the plants and enjoy the sunshine which has led to her now coming to our Coffee Club to socialise with others. A really great result!

Wattle Grove have even set up a display board (below) for everyone to share the Project GROW journey.

How does Project GROW link in with our Living Well Together model of care?

Project GROW was introduced to support our Living Well Together model of care. Project GROW promotes person-centred care and meaningful engagement. It is not just for the green thumbs but can be inclusive of all our residents. It is great to watch families and staff also sharing cuttings and their tips to create some great gardens and special memories.

You can read more about our Living Well Together model of care on our website:


Thanks Kate. We look forward to seeing the photos of Baptcare’s Biggest Garden Party soon!