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12 Aug 2019

Regional communities grow with food security

Every year the Community Greening and Youth Community Greening teams head out to regional New South Wales trekking over 800 kilometres to help establish new gardens designed to provide food security and create sustainable communities. 

This year the team went through schools across Cobar, Nyngan and Tullermore plus students from smaller communities attending workshops from further afield. They also stopped by Broken Hill to visit old friends from past trips like the Creedon Street Hub, Wilcannia Central School Garden, Railway Street Public School and Alma Public School. The team also had the chance to meet new friends and inspire future gardeners at the Wilcannia Domestic Violence Shelter by helping to establish a new garden and deliver a donated Vegepod.

Regional outreach trip

Finding food security

While in Wilcannia we asked what options were in town for lunch and we were told the café closed a few years back. We could choose between the Chinese restaurant at the services club, the roadhouse or supermarket but these limited options weren't cheap. We stopped by the supermarket to see what was on offer to the local community from a food security perspective.

There was some fresh produce, but prices were pretty steep for the residents to be able to afford, the tinned peas we get in Sydney for $0.99 were $3.50. With this knowledge our plan was pretty clear, help grow a community dedicated to providing fresh food in Wilcannia and teach the skills needed to improve access to healthy and affordable food.

With the massive upswell of community interest and NGO’s offering support, our gardening day was a big success and attended by the men’s group, youth drop-in centre, Mission School, Central School and Pre-school.
This is fantastic, we are in the process of applying for funding so that the local men’s group can start a garden too.
Brendon Adams, local resident from Wilcannia

Trip recap

Every year, the team recaps the regional outreach trip with a poem. This year, Peter Dawe from Youth Community Greening had the honours of writing the poem below.

Sustainable Outreach 2019
And again we were heading out West.
The van was packed with soil and plants
And we were prepared for the endurance test.
The solid rain was welcome for the region
But not ideal for nearly 800km of travel
Over winding passes and barren fields
On roads of bitumen and gravel.
Then after sunset and 12 hours of travel
We pulled in to our first destination.
The Copper City Motel – Cobar
We were in need of some amber hydration.
It was great to catch up with old friends and new
And to see where we’d come from on the map.
We settled in for a meal and some quiet refreshments
But devastation – there was no beer on tap.
We survived and bunkered down for the night
In preparation for the long day ahead.
Some slept better than others apparently
Due to the chainsaw from a particular bed.
Day two was brisk and the rain had cleared
As the Community Greening group went a separate way
Darren, Josh and Pete stayed at Cobar Primary School
Paddie and Phil went to Wilcannia for the day.
Wilcannia was a further 3 hours away
And the town is doing it pretty tough.
Paddie and Phil donated and set up a Vegepod
To the domestic violence centre so food, they’d have enough.
A local resident’s response was priceless
“this is so fantastic to have the garden near
we are applying for funding to start a garden
as there isn’t much food out here”
Wilcannia is such a remote community
A food desert it has become
So Community Greening by building capacity
Will assist with gardens to create a healthy outcome.
They also visited the local school and preschool
Before driving further out to Broken Hill
Here they touched base with past community projects
And checked out gardens previously set up by Phil.
Meanwhile back at Cobar Public School
A team of environmental educators had assembled
And whilst accumulatively their knowledge was vast
A motley crew they certainly resembled.
From Wambangalang came Dave and Kristy
Budding Bugologist was their theme
Karen and Bec from Red Hill EEC
Talked water health, from sea to stream.
Mal and Sal came up from Lake Cowell
The decomposition of rubbish was their demonstration
And Jan from Botany Bay EEC
Discussed different species interaction
Maria came out from Observatory Hill
Explaining the influence of humans in shaping places
And Shaz from Rumbalara EEC
Showed that with waste, we should leave no traces
Wes and Ange joined us from the Warrumbungles
And the versatility of their activities was shown
Ange studied biodiversity in farms of the outback
Whilst Wes looked at the world of coding with a drone
Matt built nest boxes for a variety of species
After coming across from Thalgarrah EEC
And our own Darren from Community Greening
Taught the students about the blue banded bee.
Josh showed the kids the importance of plants
To the Indigenous people of this land
Peter showed them how to make gardens more sustainable
Making growing food and plants easy to understand.
After a long day of back to back lessons
We bid farewell to Cobar Public School.
The students had learnt much about the environment
And we got to see their aquaponics set up, which was cool.
Before heading off onto the open road
We checked out Cobar’s open cut gold mine.
And from our vantage point at Fort Bourke Lookout
We saw the enormity of the design.
The next stop would be the township of Nyngan
Only a couple of hours drive away.
Nestled on the slowly moving Bogan River
Where the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo did play.
The next day Nyngan Public School was waiting
And what an inviting school it was to see.
The presenters prepared for the workshops ahead
We were welcomed and acknowledged the Country.
The school had outdoor learning spaces
The envy of schools across all the Savanna.
They had chickens, wicking beds and aquaponics
As well as an Indigenous garden the shape of a goanna.
We spent another long day of teaching and learning
With the kids from the Bogan Shire
And as the day was drawing to a close
The presenters were beginning to tire.
But there was still a reasonable distance to drive
To reach our next stop – Tullamore
And the extent of the drought was all too visible
Parched earth, thin sheep were impossible to ignore.
The earth lit up as the sun went down
And we convoyed into the small community
The rooms were tight, but the meals were hearty
As we embraced this unique opportunity
We assembled at Tullamore Central School
Rugged up due to the crisp cool weather
We were also joined by Tottenham and Trundle Schools
And the three schools combined working well together
This day rolled along like the ones before
With our wide-eyed host students eager to learn.
They engaged in all aspects of environmental learning
And a great day was by all concerned.
At the days end we packed up and said goodbye
Our last presentations had been staged.
Between us 150 workshops over the week
And over 600 people had been engaged.
From Broken Hill to Tottenham
And crossing all the wide brown land between.
Sustainability 2019 had been delivered
Truly a memorable event it had been.

Find out more about Community Green in the video below from the Bidwell Community Garden or by visiting our website here.

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