20th March - 24th March 2024
ROYAL EXHIBITION BUILDING
& CARLTON GARDENS

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The Stimming Garden

2024 saw the return of the Border Garden Competition, this exciting competition is a platform to help emerging garden designers and experts show what is possible to achieve in a tiny space with a sole focus on plants. The focus here is on all plants and making the greenlife the star of the space! This year, Valley Care created the “Stimming Garden” to share what it’s like for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and explore the ASD Bain. We herd from Brad Giraud the owner of Valley Care, and Charlton who worked within the team who created the Border Garden.

The Stimming Garden 

The garden was originally thought of by one of our support workers Erin Mclaine, Erin wanted to get an insight into Autism Spectrum Disorder and how the staff with ASD felt at work. She wanted this project to be from the staff with disabilities without someone influencing their decisions, to get a good picture of what ASD looks like to them. The staff has come up with a design that incorporates a grass-covered chair in the middle of the garden with plants representing the staff’s feelings around work and their disability.

The general concept is that the ASD brain needs structure and order to feel safe and function well. The chair represents the peace and calm of stimming (repetitive behaviors to help cope with strong emotions) and the garden represents the chaos we can feel in the workplace when we are pushed and challenged to grow. The staff with disabilities have been supported to achieve this garden on their merit with support staff taking a big step back in this process. 

Valley Care 

Brad Giraud from Valley Care took us through the proc

“I started Valley Care six years ago after running a small landscape gardening business for four years. At the time I was working alongside my brother who had come from working as a disability support worker. We decided that we wanted to help people with disabilities achieve more than they were in sheltered workplaces. We wanted to provide a pathway to open employment and were passionate about having a workplace with a mix of people with and without disabilities. We saw that in many workplaces employing people with disabilities there were just many people with disabilities, doing basic tasks, getting paid as low as $1.78 an hour it was a system started in the 60s that is well outdated.

We researched and looked around at other models and couldn’t find someone doing it well, so we decided to just start employing people with disabilities and work it out. Six years later we have a flourishing team of 13 with disabilities and 8 without, in a workplace that functions like any other landscape gardening company. Two of the guys with disabilities have even grown to lead both of our garden teams. The dream now is to show other ‘normal’ businesses that they can do what we have done. We have created the future of disability in the workplace, a way of full inclusion and opportunity and we want to share that with the world so that more people with disabilities can be empowered through purpose. We can’t employ everyone with a disability so it is time to teach others to have lasting change to disability culture in Australia for the better. The Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show for Valley Care is about promoting the ability to break down barriers for people with a disability, inspiring people to what they can achieve, and showcasing Valley Cares’ model of employment.”

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