Natasha Willmer is a born and bred country girl from Temora. In 1996 she found herself in Wollongong, after missing the truckie she was meant to be meeting up with. She came down the mountain, saw the view and thought, ‘Nup, not leaving! I’m staying. Done.’ And she’s been here ever since…

Tell me a little bit about yourself- who are you outside of Green Connect?

Outside of Green Connect? Do I exist outside of Green Connect? Good question. I don’t do much besides Green Connect. I’m here five days a week. I was a volunteer, I was volunteering for five years and one month before I became part-time. Green Connect is my whole world. It’s the reason I get up in the morning.

How do you fill your time outside of work?

Internet, internet and internet, TV shows, I watch WWE wrestling. Play with the animals, we just got a puppy and he’s a handful!

When did you start working with Green Connect?

Way back when I was doing my Cert IV in community services. I had to do work placement and I was up at the community centre, so I went to Jenny and said I’d love to do work placement here. I shadowed her during my first placement. Then when I did my diploma, I said I want to go back to Green Connect, I don’t want to go anywhere else. So Jenny said, ‘Do you want to volunteer?’ and I’ve been with them ever since. That was about 2010.

What was your first role with Green Connect?

Basically the same sort of stuff I’m doing now. Filling in the gaps, answering the phone, looking after our database. When we first started it was a Google doc, now we actually have a database! So yeah, it’s awesome. We’ve grown so much, we’ve come a long way. When I first started, Bron was only doing something like 8 hours and now she’s up to 30 hours. There was only like about four of them and now we’ve grown so much and we can’t keep track of everybody!

What has been your favourite Green Connect moment?

It would have to be going out to the farm and seeing how it’s grown. Originally Green Connect was just Green Connect and when they merged with Our Community Project, their the ones that had the farm, and Green Connect acquired it and they’ve just grown it. Probably when I started, probably around 2010.

What are some of the other big changes you’ve seen in that time?

Just the amount that we’ve grown and the services we provide. When we first started we were only doing seven veggie boxes. Now we’re doing over 100 a week. So the customer database has grown, the amount of staff we have has grown, our casual database has grown. Everything is thriving. I just don’t want us to grow too big too quick and be under resourced. I want us to come up slowly.

What’s the best thing about working for Green Connect?

That I’m working. If it wasn’t for Green Connect I wouldn’t be working. It’s my first official part-time gig, I’ve never had a part-time gig before, only casual.

What’s the toughest thing about working for Green Connect?

Deadlines. Everything needs to be done now! Especially in event season. It’s trying to keep up with all the deadlines. Especially when you’ve got four people saying I need this to be done, now, now, now and now and you need to figure out which ones need to be done first.

Would you recommend other people get involved with Green Connect and why?

Oh yes yes yes yes yes. It’s the best organisation for people and for the planet.

How do you recommend people get involved?

They can volunteer, they can donate, they can buy a veg box, they can come give us a hand in the office if they’ve got the skills. We’ll find a way!

What do you envisage for the future of Green Connect?

Much the same as we are, but bigger and better. More veggie boxes, more revenue so we can do more things. But don’t grow too big!