Alva and Mollie’s time on placement involved them immersing in Country and community; listening to thoughts and feelings towards the garden and what it could become. The students also undertook field analysis on soil studies and water usage, fruit and vegetable yield and pests, and the potential to grow native species such as Quandong and Bush Tomato both within and surrounding the town. Lead by visions from the community, the students gathered evidence to propose a drought-resilient garden ‘master plan’ for feedback from community partners and ongoing development
Uncle Gavin Gibbs commented on the significance of the community-led approach, saying, “This project started from the idea of people working together sharing ideas and building something for the benefit of the community. I believe we can guide the situation and harness ideas… We both [REDI.E and BACHS] know what we need.”
Daily garden work formed a large part of the placement; the students collaborating closely with the REDI.E team on site and members of the community to set up a suite of wicking beds raised on an ergonomic stand (designed and built by local workers), establish 14 new beds of seedlings, install plant signage, set up a composting system and test permaculture methods for pest and disease control.
Alva said that the placement gave them valuable experiences and learnings that they will carry forward into their future work.
“This placement means much more for me than just another course,” said Alva.
“I was welcomed into the community and was inspired by their inclusiveness, strength, and so much positivity. I learnt to listen to understand, accept my limitations, and feel a grounded connection to Country. This experience will always guide my future work designing for Country.”
Mollie commented on how rewarding the placement was, saying, “It was an invaluable experience, to work on a community-driven project on Ngemba-Baakindji Country, and be a part of the development of this beautiful and functional space that’s going to continue to provide fresh, nutritional food, employment, education and be a welcoming community place.”
The Bourke Community Garden project has been informed by the successful methods and community-led approach to rejuvenating the Euragai Goondi Garden by the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service, Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) and the Yuwaya Ngarra-li partnership between the DEG and UNSW.