Wilkins Green

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Growing a community, a community project in Marickville, Sydney shows a diverse group of people and little green space growing a community

Growing a community, a community project in Marickville, Sydney shows a diverse group of people and little green space growing a community

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  • 1. Landcare Awards 2007
    • A partnership between:
      • Wilkins Primary School,
      • Globe Pre-school,
      • Marrickville Community Nursery and
      • Petersham TAFE Outreach
  • 2.
    • In a local government area with the least
    • green space in all of Australia, Wilkins
    • Primary School and the Globe Pre-school
    • have a precious piece of land of about
    • three acres as their urban backyard.
    • Until 2004 , the land was unused and ‘out of
    • bounds’.
  • 3.  
  • 4.  
  • 5. We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Cadigal Wangal of the Eora Nation, on whose land the Wilkins Green is located.
  • 6.
    • When eggs come from the shop and veggies come from factories, something has to change…
  • 7. In 2004 a Community Gardening Course run by TAFE Outreach grew out of the belonging project, a Marrickville council initiative involving local community leaders and community members with a vision for the future of Marrickville. Participants represented a diverse range of people from community as well as cultural, educational and environmental organizations.
  • 8. The Principal of Wilkins Primary School became interested in improving the use of school facilities by exploring ways of sharing a large section of underutilized land at the back of the school with the broader community in an environmentally sustainable way.
  • 9. Wilkins Green is nestled between two busy main roads. When we began the project, already existing natives welcomed us in the form of various species of gums, remnant grasses such as Kangaroo grass and Microlina, Fig trees, and various acacias. A high bank of Casurina trees protected the area and provided a filter to noise and pollution.
  • 10.
    • The children at the school are inner city dwellers and their knowledge and experience of the bush and nature is sometimes limited.
  • 11. Using principles of permaculture, the students planned a vegetable garden on the highest point and sunniest patch.
  • 12.
    • For the first six months there was no water on site and the students carted water containers from the pre-school’s water tank, which is situated about 300m away. It was an interesting exercise in valuing water, and once a shed and tank were installed on site, teaching the principle of water appreciation became more difficult.
  • 13.
    • Composting
    • Companion planting
    • No-dig garden beds
    • Domestic sustainability
    • Bio-diversity
  • 14.
    • Bush regeneration are some of the formal lessons taught through the Outreach classes yet much informal learning occurs onsite.
  • 15.
    • Students are from diverse backgrounds and provide a depth of personal knowledge that nourishes the whole community. We have learnt of natural cleaning products from Mexico that dispose of citrus waste.
  • 16.
    • When we had one rooster too many a beautiful man from Chile provided us with the expertise necessary to prepare and eat it.
  • 17.
    • This year also saw the arrival of 12 eggs in an incubator at the school library.
  • 18.
    • Students were able to watch the eggs hatch and then the chicks were farmed out to various parents to care for until they were old enough. Meanwhile a chicken run and hen house were built by the school community.
  • 19.
    • The chickens live in a lovely home and are now laying eggs, providing fertilizer and gulping up much of our weed crop, not to mention all the school and pre-school’s organic waste (which in the 2004 waste audit was over a tonne per year).
  • 20.
    • As important as growing the veggie garden and engaging in bush regeneration activities was learning about the cultural significance of the indigenous plants in the area.
  • 21.
    • A number of indigenous foods in the garden were planted such as a Macadamia and a Lilly Pilly, yet it was considered important to have one area of the land where Aboriginal cultural learning was exclusive.
  • 22.
    • With Aboriginal children at the school and out of respect for the traditional owners of the land, local elders and other Aboriginal educators were invited to talk about culture.
  • 23.
    • After securing Federal enviro funding we were lucky to discover an Aboriginal Bush regenerator who designed an Aboriginal Cultural Planting Track and co-facilitated a series of three monthly workshops over the period of a year for both the school and for the broader community.
  • 24.
    • Local elders and other Aboriginal community educators ran workshops on weaving, bush foods, bush medicines, site preparation, plant selection, planting techniques, weed removal and the cultural application of plants both traditionally and in more contemporary applications such as Aboriginal Bush Food Cuisine. Yummy discoveries were had, and many more are to follow.
  • 25.
    • The workshops were filmed and are now in post production to be developed into an educational DVD to be used by the community.
  • 26.
    • Signage for the shed will be installed early next month providing a map of how the space is being used. It will provide information on the various parts of the space that need to be considered as well as water wise watering methods, care of chickens, major weeds and how to remove them.
  • 27.
    • A chalk board will also be mounted for participants to communicate to each other. The signage is designed for the participants to reinforce the learning that happens in the Outreach classes, and as a reminder that the space is organic and constantly evolving.
  • 28.
    • We call it growing a community.