The year got off to such a busy start that suddenly it’s March and my first Green Connect update is only just going out!


Like many businesses, the bushfires affected us considerably, including losing over 2,500 hours of work for our staff as well as produce at the farm suffering from heat and smoke (more details here). Our thoughts go out to all of those rebuilding after this summer’s devastation. We have put our hands up to be part of the government’s recovery team and hope we can assist.


On a more positive note, we have had several staff secure long-term, mainstream employment already this year. We love working with young people and former refugees to use their experience at Green Connect as a springboard to long-term, meaningful jobs, and are so happy to see them achieve their goals. Congratulations to Innocent, Blayde, Elizabeth and Luke to name a few.


Plus we’re finalists for an Illawarra Multicultural Award, announced on 20 March at the Illawarra Harmony Dinner. More info here if you want to come along!


Also, the story of our team member Yawovi seeing his first koala made my weekend. See below ?



Op Shop news

We need to vacate our op shop. Luckily there’s a space for us just next door so we aren’t closing for good but relocating by a few metres. Everything in store is $2 from today until Wednesday 4 March, our last day of trading in our current space. Please help us clear out the shop by stopping in! 9.30am to 4.30pm, 16 Bellambi Lane, Bellambi. Photos of what’s in store available here. We hope to reopen on 6 April. Keep an eye on our Facebook page or website for more info.


Thank you to everyone who spread the word about our free essentials for bushfire evacuees offer in January too (details here). Our staff and volunteers were very moved by the stories of those who came in to grab what they needed, and really glad we could do something to help.



Zero Waste news


We have been working with Mirvac to conduct waste audits of some of their sites, including shopping centres with lots of waste coming from lots of different businesses. Mirvac are striving to recycle as much as they can at every site, so we are helping them to identify where their waste is coming from and where it is currently going, to see what can be reduced and how it can better be recycled. We love it!


We’re also working with NRMA to manage the waste at their six Bright Futures events around NSW, celebrating their 100th birthday with free community events focused on sustainability. Keep an eye out for our team at:

  • Tamworth: Sat March 14 and Sun March 15
  • Kiama: Sat April 4 and Sun April 5
  • Wagga Wagga: Sat April 18 and Sun April 19
  • Queanbeyan: Sat May 2 and Sun May 3
  • Parramatta: Sat June 6 and Sun June 7

Or check out some photos from the first event in Byron Bay this weekend here.



Farm news


Our veg box customers would know that Cal writes you a letter every week that might include what’s happening on the farm, or his love for a particular fruit, vegetable or herb, or a story from our staff. These are now available online! Check out the collection here.

Honey is available again now. Our first lot for 2020 sold so quickly we were glad our beekeepers had another batch on the way! I bought a jar for one of my friends who sent me a message to say “Trying out GC honey for the first time in my chamomile tea. It’s so good!! Tastes just like real honey as I remember it from when I was a kid.” Order yours here.


We have lots of tours and workshops planned this year and they’re all available here. We are also running private tours and experiences for schools and other groups, so please get in touch with my colleague Vanessa if you want to bring a group to the largest urban permaculture farm in Australia. Upcoming events include:


You may remember several months ago we were awarded a My Community Project grant. We’re excited to say that this was finalised last week so we can get underway! We’re building a play area at the farm for kids to use before and after tours and experiences, which we know that schools and families will love. So…

Tell us your ideas for a children’s garden / kids play area. We’re putting a call out for ideas on our Facebook page and Instagram account today so comment there (with pictures especially) or reply to this email. We want it to be a space that kids can engage with and be inspired by nature, and to get messy, not your traditional playground.


We’re sure there are more than three reasons why kids love the Green Connect farm, but the wonderful Mel Barnes has captured the top ones in her guest post on our blog. Let us know if this resonates with you!



Other news


February was busy for me, with the op shop relocation to plan and picking ourselves up after the bushfires, but also speaking at two events:


Leadership in Sustainability, a webinar hosted by the NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment. A recording is available here if you’re interested.

Not For Profit People, a conference in Melbourne where I spoke about the value of employment and encouraged fellow not-for-profit organisations to consider not employing the best person for the job but the person who needs the job most at least once this year. Thank you to Ethical Jobs for hosting!


Key learnings for me from the conference were that the not-for-profit sector is full of incredibly passionate, caring, hard-working people but that the need is greater than the resources available and that there is a real concern for the mental health and general wellbeing of staff in the sector, so a need for us all to practice self-care. It is something that I struggle with (particularly getting enough sleep at the moment!), and I’m lucky to be surrounded by incredible colleagues and friends who remind me to look after myself and who inspire me by doing the same. If you know the magic formula for balancing the demands of a job that you care deeply about with your own health and wellbeing, please let me know!


Yawovi meets a koala

And now for the story that made my weekend…


One of our staff members who was in Byron Bay over the weekend for the first NRMA Bright Futures event came face-to-face with one of Australia’s favourite marsupials for the very first time! The side benefits of working for Green Connect are endless ? Here’s Yawovi’s moment with a koala:

Have a great week!