Community and sustainability were the focus of the inaugural Auburn Community Friendship Garden Spring Party on October 24, but face painting, rock decorating and a live petting zoo won over the dozens of children who attended.
Held at the Auburn Centre for Community from 10am-2pm, the Spring Party brought together more than 200 people from the local community, including many refugees and people seeking asylum who are supported by Settlement Services International (SSI).
Attendees took part in sustainability workshops, garden tours, and cooking demonstrations. Children were also invited to play soccer and help make mud bricks with other gardeners.
SSI partnered with Auburn City Council in June 2015, to support the expansion of the existing Friendship Garden and transform it into a productive and inclusive community garden project. The efforts have been working, with participants saying they enjoyed meeting new friends at the garden and having something the whole community could work on together.
SSI’s Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) Service Delivery Manager, Yamamah Agha said the garden had been a particularly positive project for the people from refugee backgrounds, and those seeking asylum, in the Auburn area.
“The Spring Party was a great way of connecting people from diverse backgrounds —such as refugees and people seeking asylum —who all live in the Auburn community, to make them feel included and welcomed,” Ms Agha said.
It was also a great celebration of the work everyone had put in to the garden so far. “People have worked so hard to build the garden into a productive shared space.
Centre Coordinator at Auburn Centre for Community, Leah Briers, said the partnership between Auburn City Council and SSI to further develop the garden had been fruitful.
“It has been a great opportunity to expand the garden with SSI,” Ms Briers said. “We want to invite the community to connect with the garden and showcase what we are doing with sustainability and how we are building strong communities. Everyone is welcome.”
Abdul, who receives case management support from SSI while his refugee status is assessed, regularly attends Friendship Garden workshops and has helped build the garden with local gardeners.
He said he reconnected with a number of friends at the garden who he met at SSI Community Engagement events such as Community Kitchen and the National Parks project.
“I like the flowers, and I like the festival, I like it,” he said. “I love gardening and I have made friends. It’s good to learn new skills.”
David, who also receives case management support from SSI , brought his entire family to the party. “It is good and everyone is happy, we are very happy,” he said.
The partnership between SSI and Auburn City Council to collaboratively develop the Friendship Garden will continue for a further two-and-a-half years until 2018.
Regular community gardening days are held on Thursdays, from 9.30am to 1.30pm.