Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 01-03-16 Contents 7 - Tuesday, March 1, 2016
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Passion for gardening brings benefits
Peter Spiropoulos is in his 90s and loves working in his vegetable garden.
Photo: Elesa Kurtz
For most people, gardening is a casual
But for 89-year-old Peter
Spiropoulos it is an undying passion
that has consumed five hours of his
days for more than half a century, and
he continues to enjoy the fruits of his
The outside of his and his wife
Asimo's Narrabundah home overflows
with all types of plants, from marrow,
chilli, pepper, pears, capsicum and
cucumber, to pumpkin, corn, beans,
tomatoes, potatoes, peaches and figs.
Their heaviest pumpkin weighs
36 kilograms and their biggest tomato
is the size of a standard dining bowl,
dangling off the edges of their son
"My parents came over from Greece
in the early '50s and have been making
vegie gardens ever since because they
like the old Mediterranean tradition,"
"When dad was in Greece he used to
be a farm hand and help grow
everything, and he brought that talent
Mr Spiropoulos retired 20 years ago
but still wakes up early to dig, weed
and water, before going to the local
club for lunch where he sometimes
donates some of the vegetables his
family can't consume alone, and
returning home for some afternoon
"I think that is why mum and dad
are so healthy and fit for their age,"
"It is an inspiration to young people
and elderly people, as well to be able
to have a vegie patch and eat it and live
healthy and live long."
Research has long proved the
benefits of gardening. Multiple studies
show that gardeners eat more fruit and
vegetables than their peers, a recent
study in the Netherlands found it can
lessen stress better than other relaxing
activities, and research from Norway
suggested the effortless attention in
gardening could even help improve
Digging, planting, weeding and
other repetitive tasks are particularly
helpful for older people, as they stretch
and build strength while remaining
Mr Spiropoulos' constant upkeep of
the fruit and vegies covering the
12,000 square metre yard had kept
most of them bright and healthy, but
others had been bruised and battered
from the recent hailstorm.
"All of my peaches have fallen off
the tree . . . Some of my tomatoes are
damaged," Mr Spiropoulos said.
"But what can you do?"
When asked when he plans to
finally call gardening quits, he said
"Each day I'll do it if I can".
Work is under way to improve the
Isaacs Ridge mountain bike trail to
make the areas safer for all users.
Construction began on February 25
and it is expected the mountain bike
trail network will be complete by June
In the coming months, the popular
nature reserve, with a recreation area
stretching over close to 23 hectares,
will have the two existing downhill
mountain bike trails formalised.
Construction works will create a
multi-user trail, an equestrian link and
informal rest areas and install signage.
ACT Parks and Conservation
Service director Daniel Iglesias said
Isaacs Ridge pines was one of
Canberra's most popular venues for
downhill mountain biking, horse
riding, trail running, orienteering and
other recreational pursuits.
This project will help formalise
existing trails and make them safe for
all users of the area, while helping
prevent the proliferation and use of
illegal trails in more sensitive
ecological areas of the nature reserve,''
"A co-operative volunteer trail
maintenance group is being
established, similar to the Bruce Ridge
and Majura Pines models, under the
Parks and Conservation Service
Parkcare volunteer group framework."
Mr Iglesias said the works would
help to guide the growth and boost the
reputation of mountain biking in the
HIGH RISE COMPROMISE QUESTIONED
Wary residents look to Greens support
Red Hill resident Stuart Rogers is concerned about a multi-storey
development, taking in about 5 hectares of land behind the Red Hill shops
that has public housing.
Photo: Graham Tidy
Red Hill residents have rejected the
government compromise on high rises
to replace the Red Hill flats and are
now pinning their hopes on winning
the support of the Greens' Shane
Rattenbury, who holds the balance of
power in the ACT parliament.
Stuart Rogers, who lives opposite
the development site, said the
compromise was smoke and mirrors,
still allowing high density, and by his
calculation still able to fit as many as
212 three-bedroom apartments,
replacing 144 units there now.
The government backed down on
plans for a six-storey development at
Red Hill, instead limiting the new
apartment blocks to four storeys. The
backdown came after strong
community opposition in submissions
last year and in a petition.
But at a meeting this week,
attended, residents say, by more than
100 people, residents rejected the
compromise, calling for the area to be
zoned RZ3 which would allow multi-
unit development but limited to 9.5
metres and generally two storeys.
The government is rezoning the area
on either side of Cygnet Street and
through to Discovery Street near the
shops as RZ5, which is the tallest
residential zone with the highest
density, normally allowing buildings
up to 21.5m and generally six storeys.
The Red Hill planning change
specifies no more than four storeys,
with some sections limited to three
storeys and others to two storeys, but
it has no height limits.
Residents point to a clause in the
new rules that allows an extra storey
for basement parking and an extra
storey for ground-level development.
Mr Rogers, from the Red Hill
Housing Estate Redevelopment Action
Group, said the new proposal had
inadequate controls, allowing extra
storeys through the use of mezzanines
and commercial development at
ground floor level.
Overshadowing and overlooking
were big issues for residents of the
largely single-storey Red Hill homes
nearby, some of which backed on to
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