Hi,

It seems like the world has been a very serious place for the last few months. Worrying about the future and the people around us, watching news events unfold, diligently turning on the COVIDsafe app and seeing the numbers climbing, trying to figure out how to keep everyone safe and sane and employed… is that what it has been like for you?

I’m just going to put it out there… what if we could find joy again, find laughter, make the most of all the great things we do have, even while times are tough? Let me know what you think and how to do it! I genuinely want to know your tips and tricks.

At Green Connect, I see joy in people visiting the farm and hear laughter floating through to the office from the op shop. We swap funny stories over lunch and there are some fun moments in some of my online meetings – including silly hat themes, a no shoes policy and Zoom bingo, to name but a few. It’s a start.

Here’s what else has been happening at Green Connect…

We’re hiring supervisors

Our staff are in high demand at local businesses through our Staffing Solutions arm and we are going to need more supervisors very soon. If you are looking for work, good at physical, outdoor work and could lead and support a team of young people and former refugees, let us know. More info and apply here.

Farm tours and workshops

Our school holiday farm tours proved very popular, and we’re continuing to offer tours once a month or you can book a private one, including a school excursion or kids party.

 

We also have loads of workshops coming up, with some amazing facilitators.

  • Introduction to permaculture (31 Oct – 1 Nov, this weekend!! I’ll be there 😊)
  • Working with nature (5 Dec)
  • Gardening basics (5 Dec)
  • Native plant nourishment (6 Dec)
  • Fruit trees and food forests (6 Dec)
  • Intro to beekeeping (9 Jan)
  • In-depth beekeeping (23 Jan)

Veg boxes – new days and a new hub

Veg boxes (as we were showing to MPs Jihad Dib and Paul Scully recently) have changed days (Tuesdays for Wollongong to Kiama; Wednesdays for all other locations) and we have a new pick up hub in Unanderra. We grow as much of the produce ourselves, without pesticides or other nasties, and providing much-needed employment for local youth and former refugees. We’d love your support by becoming a veg box customer! More info and sign up here.

Thanks for the op shop feedback

As always, our op shop sorts clothes by size, colour and type so it’s easy to find what you want. We also have a kids corner, a book nook, a linen closet, an art corner and all the homewares you could ever need. Come and visit us at 37 Princes Highway, Unanderra (the bright purple building).

 

We’ve loved all the comments about how bright and organised the space is. We’ve also taken on board feedback about needing the stock to turn over faster so you’ll be pleased to know we’ve brought in a stock control system in the last two weeks. Let us know what you think.

Appliances at the op shop

We have tagging and testing back in place so are now accepting donations of appliances and small electrical goods. They’re flying off the shelves as fast as we can test them so if you have any spare ones at home, please consider donating them.

Celebrate National Recycling Week with us

National Recycling Week is coming up 9-15 November and we’re encouraging schools to get involved by running a donation drive. Get your students to bring in gently used clothes, books, toys, games, shoes, linen, homewares and appliances, and either drop them to us or contact [email protected] to arrange a pick-up. Ask us about posters too (coming soon) if that would help.

 

Garden consults and makeovers

We are still piloting our backyard gardens service and have done some garden consults, a few makeovers, built a couple of bamboo fences and even done a big garden blitz on a large community site in Wollongong.

 

We are still in the early stages of this and are keen to do a few more consults and makeovers so that we know what works, and incorporate feedback from early customers. Please email [email protected] or book a garden consultation if you’re interested in being one of them.

Staff stories

We are lucky to have a couple of new team members (Jessie and Emily) who have been capturing stories of our staff members. We employ young people and former refugees, and each person has a fascinating background. Read some of them here and let us know what you think!

 

Where to next for our best practice employment program?

We know that support and direct employment work beautifully together for people who need jobs the most but have difficulties getting a foot in the door. We’re one of many social enterprises offering what the Centre for Social Impact has recognised as best practice.

 

We have been partnering with the NSW Government for two years to show what support and employment in a safe and welcoming social enterprise can do, and they’ve been thrilled with the results! The funding for this pilot ends in December but we’re hopeful that both the NSW Government and Federal Government will support this model for several of the hardest hit groups in the current climate – including young people and former refugees.

 

If you know of someone we should be speaking to in government to make this happen, please call or email me.

 

Thank you for the support!

Over the last few months, we have received amazing donations from Tibra Capital Foundation and Sel-F-Less Furniture, as well as whiteboards from Wollongong Public School, fencing materials from Perry’s Fencing, mulch from Soilco and carpet tiles from a local builder (anonymously). What an amazing community we live in! Thank you so, so much.

 

Volunteer with us

If you want to meet new people, try new things and be part of making the world a cleaner, greener, kinder place – and you have a day a week or more to spare, we’d love to meet you. We have recently opened the farm back up to volunteering, Wednesday to Friday, giving people the opportunity to get their hands dirty, but we also need a few more helpers in the op shop and one more in the office. Register your interest here.

 

Thanks for reading this right to the end – and do let me know your tips and tricks to bring joy and laughter back to our everyday lives, or any feedback or ideas you have for Green Connect. I love hearing from you.

 

Best wishes,

Kylie