An olive tree has been planted to mark the transition of the Friendship Garden at the Auburn Centre of Community, from being an initiative owned and run by SSI, to a community run project.
Friendship Gardners after planting the olive tree.
Over four years of nurturing and growth, the Friendship Garden has welcomed many people from diverse backgrounds, languages and abilities who have worked together to build an inclusive and cohesive community.
Since 2015, gardeners have volunteered their time to transform barren, disused land into green space for community, full of life, vegetables, flowers and opportunities for friendships.
Facilitating the building of friendships and skills, gardening days occurred every Thursday, and a playgroup ran every Wednesday. SSI also organised excursions, workshops and external projects in collaboration with other groups.
This project facilitated tremendous social and economic growth in the community. Through social interaction, we saw English skills improved, self-confidence enhanced, support networks established, TAFE certification attained and employment secured.
On 18 July 2019, the last day of SSI’s ownership of the project, the olive tree, traditionally a symbol of peace and friendship, was collectively planted at the Friendship Garden to mark the great achievements made together, and the community’s commitment to continue to support the garden and one another towards a positive, united future.
As part of the handover, SSI hosted a Community Voice consultation where participants could voice their thoughts on how to retain, improve and share the friendship garden with the Auburn community.
Some participant suggestions included opening the garden on weekends and growing more fruit and vegetables that could be sold at markets to raise awareness and funds for the garden.
Two long time garden participants, Lk and Ling, said they will continue to attend the garden and be proactive to give back to the community.
"We have enjoyed attending garden weekly and have gained new experiences and learnt about many things from other garden participants,” they said.
Lk and Ling’s thoughts were echoed by community members at the transition, where many agreed that the Friendship Garden helped them feel like they were not alone, as it connected them with nature, and with each other.
SSI staff and the Auburn community are proud to have built a space where people respect and support each other, work as a team to build something beautiful and sustainable, and communicate and laugh together despite language barriers.
We look forward to seeing the friendships and harvest that is produced during next year’s community-run and owned Friendship Garden.