We have had a few staff changes at Green Connect this month and are busy getting the new op shop ready. We are also splashing through mud at the farm, working for businesses all over the Illawarra and southern Sydney in labour hire, and continue working hard to keep our 127 staff (mainly young people and former refugees) safe and well.
We want our staff, volunteers, customers and visitors to be physically safe, and in COVID-19 times, that means new processes in place around hand hygiene, physical distancing and staying home at the first sign of illness.
But front of mind for us lately has been mental wellbeing. It has been a tough year in so many ways, and at times it feels like the challenges just keep coming. I’ve noticed that I am less resilient than usual at the moment, and many people around me are saying the same thing. We haven’t had a chance to pick ourselves up after the drought, bushfires, floods and the pandemic. Yet, we’re already working through what economic recovery means for us as individuals and businesses. On a personal level, family units have been challenged by lockdown measures which have thrown some people together for longer periods of time, but kept others apart. Stress, work insecurity, financial difficulties and uncertainty are par for the course for many people lately.
I don’t have all the solutions, but I do know that having a connected community that looks out for one another really helps. I have seen examples of community spirit and people looking out for one another that have brought me to tears. I have also seen incredible generosity towards community organisations like ours. It all helps. Exercise, good food, good friends, switching technology off… it all helps.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to ask how Green Connect is going and how they can help, and who have reached out to me, to a member of our staff or to a member of our community to ask the same. Those small acts of kindness mean everything.
Now for an update…
This week is Refugee Week, a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions that refugees make in our communities all over Australia. Here’s what I know:
- Green Connect currently employs 78 former refugees from 10 different countries
- Every former refugee I have met came to Australia for a better life, has faced enormous challenges, wants to work to support their family, be financially independent and to give back to Australia
- Despite being incredibly hardworking and motivated to work, across Australia, only 23% of former refugees have a job two and a half years after they settle here (source: The Conversation)
- I have learned more about hardship, about resilience, about the value of family, about hard work, about laughter, about hospitality and about the strength of community connections from our former refugee staff than I can ever express
- Wollongong has the largest refugee community in NSW outside of Sydney, and is a city that welcomes refugees, with amazing organisations like SCARF supporting former refugees to rebuild their lives here
Keep an eye out on City of Wollongong’s Facebook page for portraits and stories of Green Connect staff over the next few days. In the meantime, here’s a great photo of Taw Meh at the Green Connect farm last week:
Our online workshops continue but planning has started for farm tours so keep an eye out of those starting back up again soon!
The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world, but it doesn’t have to be! Find out the meaning of sustainable fashion and ways to shop more consciously, knowing what to buy and where. This live online workshop will provide you with a number of tips and resources to help you buy well, wear well and love your clothes that little bit longer.
Join The Earth Stylist, Lindle Epe, to discover why we must consider before we buy to reduce global fashion waste. This 90-min live online workshop will cover:
- Fast fashion and how it is affecting the earth
- What makes a fashion brand sustainable and ethical?
- How to identify sustainable fashion brands doing the right thing for people and planet
- Sustainable hints and tips that will change how you shop
$30.00 per person
Beginners in Backyards online workshops
If you know someone who is keen to start gardening and growing food, these workshops are the perfect way to make plans, learn simple skills, and start thinking long-term to ensure edible garden success.
- June 27: Small Space Gardening with Angela Cook
- July 4: Seed Saving with Jacqui Besgrove
- July 11: All About Compost with Jacqui Besgrove
- July 18: Backyard Chickens with Jacqui Besgrove
$30.00 each or $90.00 for all four if you sign up before 27 June.
Introducing Rod Logan, Market Garden Coordinator
Our farm team has expanded to include a Market Garden Coordinator, which we’re very excited about. We had some great applicants for the role. The stand out was Rod Logan, a very experienced organic commercial gardener who also has a long history of working and volunteering for community organisations and Landcare. Rod will build on the work that Cal Champagne (Farm Manager), Su Meh, Shay Reh and Eh Moo (Senior Farm Hands) and the team have done to grow the best fruit and vegetables for our local community using permaculture and organic methods.
Farewell Nat Willmer and Darren Bell
After several years of volunteering and then working at Green Connect as our Admin Officer, the wonderful Nat Willmer is moving on to other adventures. We will miss Nat at the front desk and keeping us organised (and in constant supply of chocolate!), but look forward to working with her in other ways as she remains active in the community, including through her work at the Warrawong Community Centre.
We are also saying farewell to Darren Bell, who has played a leading role in turning our farm from 11 acres of scrubland into what it is today. Darren was one of the first in the community to volunteer at the farm, and joined the team as our Farm Coordinator to train, support and supervise volunteers, former refugees and young people at the farm. His commitment to empowering individuals and the wider community to make positive change is inspiring. We wish him all the best in his exciting new role up north that combines community services, horticulture and zero waste all in one.
New veg box hub
A big thank you to the team at The Wilde Café in Thirroul who have become our latest veg box hub, as our hubs in Thirroul and Austinmer were full!
Sign up for a weekly fruit and veg box today at https://green-connect.com.au/green-connect-shop/
It’s fresh, local, chemical-free and means more jobs for young people and former refugees.
Help us to do more
Green Connect relies on donations and grants to cover 20% of our expenses. That means that for every $1 you donate, we do $5 of good in the local community – creating jobs, reducing waste and growing fair food.
Ways you can help:
Sponsor a tree
Sponsor a chicken
Make a one-off donation
Make regular donations
To help, visit https://green-connect.com.au/donations/. We are a registered charity so donations over $2 are tax deductible.