Blacktown North Public School launched its Community Garden on June 28, thanks to contributions from local businesses, community organisations and the school’s Community Hub leader, Hasret Mehmedali.
SSI Community Hubs helped organise and launch the community garden.
Community Hubs is a national program that supports migrant and refugee parents and children as they navigate the education system. It builds parenting and family skills and resources, and promotes links between families and local services and networks.
SSI is the designated support agency for Community Hubs in NSW.
Ms Mehmedali worked with Bunnings Warehouse to source soil to establish the community garden.
She also collaborated with Conservation Volunteers, Australasia’s leading practical conservation organisation, which helps volunteers plant trees, perform environmental surveys and clean up rubbish.
Volunteers from Nestlé also participated and are keen to build an ongoing and sustainable relationship with Community Hubs and support them within local government areas.
The volunteers did most of the manual labour for the launch, moving soil from a large mound to the garden beds, erecting remaining garden beds and helping Bunnings staff and the children with their planting.
Attending the launch along with Bunnings and Conservation Volunteers were Lee Castledine from Blacktown City Library, the teaching staff, parents and children from the school’s Transition/Playgroup classes, and Dynamic Bee children — students involved in extra-curricular activities — who had been involved in gardening at the school in the previous semester.
School Principal, Mrs Carmen Cefai, addressed the attendees before inviting Ms Mehmedali and two children from the Dynamic Bee group to officially open the Community Garden.
Children flocked through the gate and got straight into the garden beds. Before long, they were called to join Ms Castledine from the library for story time, beautifully set up in the Friendship Garden.
The children, some with their families, sat along the benches and eagerly listened to Ms Castledine provide an interactive telling of 'The Little Red Hen', raising ideas of collaborative work for a common goal — as important for the children as it was for the families who attended to understand the significance of a Community Garden.
After the story the children were invited to assist Kylie and Joseph from Bunnings to propagate seedlings. In addition to the soil, Bunnings provided many plants, propagating kits and gloves for the children.
Fathers in attendance had an in-depth chat with Christa Huyn, a student from the Australian College of Applied Psychology who was working within the Hubs, about how they could become more involved with the Community Garden and register for an allotment.
Some of the mothers, who had only met each other in passing, exchanged details so they could remain in contact. That epitomised the nature of the day and demonstrated how families could come together to create a community within the school community.
Ms Mehmedali said it was lovely to see how those who attended were engaging on a meaningful level.
Volunteers, children and families were treated to lunch for their efforts, with thanks to SSI, Community Hubs and Ms Mehmedali’s cooking skills. Goody bags for the children included many generous donations from Bunnings and brochures from local community services.