Nick Panetta’s eyesight is now gone, but his love of plants and gardening remains undiminished.
Every week, he spends as much time as possible at the flourishing garden at the Pendana Social Centre in Bentley, tending to plants and talking to visitors who come to the centre to socialise, knit and craft, listen to talks or go out on activities.
Those visitors now include students from the nearby Al-Hidaya Islamic School, who visit twice a week as part of their studies for Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Art.
The students' current project is ‘My Wonder Garden’, exploring the garden environment and enjoying sensory experiences.
Mr Panetta’s visual impairment means he is a particularly astute teacher when it comes to sensory experiences in the garden and is even able to show them how you can tell the health of a plant just by touch.
“We picked watermelons last week, and I was able to tell the children that they were ripe” he said.
“If the little petal on the stem is dead, you can be sure it is ready for them to enjoy.”
Many of our social centres like Pendana partner with schools, bringing together children and clients to do activities like arts or gardening, enriching both in the exchange.
“It is great having the kids there,” said Mr Panetta. “They ask questions, and I am able to answer them and teach them.