Tuesday, 22 October 2013

This is Cool - When a little blog makes an impact

Hey Hubby, i hope you didn't want to be anonymous because you are on Youtube.   How cool is this?  Nope, not self promoting my blog but i used it to help get funding for Shoestring Gardenings future community programs.  By the way, in no way am i suggesting that it was up to me.  Many people have worked for years in the background to bring these community programs together and continue to do so on a volunteer basis.  I was simply a participant in the pilot program who happened to start writing a blog on what i was up to.

Click on Wyndham's Environment Sustainability Events Programs to see what's on offer around our city.  Take a look at the Calendar PDF for links to various community groups.  Many of these, including Shoestring Gardening's workshops and events are free.

I was contacted by the Wyndham City Council (who had apparently been reading my blog posts on the workshops) and asked if i could say a few words on camera to a group of community and council leaders that were meeting to discuss program funding.    Of course, i refused to be on camera but i gave them permission to use my blog and the various posts that i did on the workshops and my own veggie garden during the presentation.  I wrote an email which was read out by someone with a lovely voice whilst the powerpoint played in the background.  I was told it brought them to tears.    I have only just now received a link as they had technical issues.  So here it is:

Growing Communities Yutube - Living In The Land of Oz

I was more than happy to help as we were told in one of the last workshops that i attended that funding had been pulled and that it wasn't going to continue.  I literally had a physical response.  Why Why Why, couldn't they see how good it was. I cared about these people who had worked so hard and been so generous with their expertise and time.   If it works, and it did, don't shut it down, keep it going.   Are they crazy!!!!  The hard work has been done!

Well, apparently they are not and I am happy to say that funding was approved and that Shoestring Gardening are currently running their next program of free workshops.  They are, at this stage, only held during the week but the courses are well attended and they are achieving their goals of opening up the world of growing vegetables in your own garden to others in the community.   I hope that in the future they will also be on weekends as well as this is what made it possible for me to attend.

This Friday, 25th October is their Annual General Meeting & Garden Party.  See here if you would like to attend but be quick to get RSVP into Bronwyn.   This is a really good organisation to be involved in if you have to time to volunteer and are committed to being a positive part of your local community.  Or you may simply wish to attend the workshops.

 In case you cant hear what is being said on the Youtube then this is a copy of the email i sent.  It has been edited to make it more concise but i think they covered everything i wanted to say:

Thank you for reading my blog.  It gives me a lot of pleasure to write about my journey and I hope that it has given your department an insight into just how valuable the Growing Healthy Communities Workshops have been. I don't pretend to be an expert on anything and I think that is the main appeal of my blog.  I am like everyone else just making my way one day at a time, making mistakes, learning and sometimes having success.  I've lived here for 18 years and it took a small ad in the local paper last year to help me reach out to find my own community.  This program is so important on so many levels, not just gardening.  The thing we all have in common is that we can all relate to food.  We all eat, so already we have a connection with each other that breaks down barriers.   

I regret that I'm not available this week for face to face.   I'm an accountant covering several manufacturing SME's at a very busy time of year.  I would also not feel comfortable being filmed.  You might have noted that there are no photo's of me on my blog.  I'm not comfortable in my own skin.  

I do however fully support the work of Shoestring and their association with Craig from Edible Gardens.  They work together to provide an environment where participants feel comfortable and accepted no matter their level of gardening knowledge.  The relaxed format of the presentations and the humour that often accompanies it makes for a very enjoyable and informative few hours.   This is a unique combination.  At the beginning, XXX were involved and with my lack of knowledge i felt a little intimidated by their classroom, whiteboard method of teaching.  Craig's down to earth approach and hands on, get dirty examples completely changed the (gosh what's the word....) presence, the feel of the workshops.  As they are local, any examples given were directly transferable to our backyards not inner Melbourne.

It actually takes a little bit of courage to turn up to a place where you don't know anyone and each workshop new faces were welcomed and included. I think our group represented a good cross section of the Wyndham community both in age, gardening knowledge (from none to experienced), race and family structures.    I am sure that the feedback forms we completed at the end of each workshop were glowing in appreciation for the team, especially Karen's lunch.   What a great advertisement for good gardening and healthy living is Karen.  I ate many vegetarian dishes throughout the programs that I would never have had exposure to and each was presented well and tasted fantastic.  Recipes were swapped as were discussions on growing the ingredients, buying seedlings and heritage seeds at reasonable prices.     

It is important that the momentum that has been created continues within the community.  To not do so, would be to waste the funding already provided.  Not only do those of us that started from the first workshop need further support as we begin to implement our new found knowledge into practical gardening but as we spread the word throughout the community and people see what we have achieved, they also need a place to go that they can afford.  I missed a couple of workshops that I very much would like to attend - e.g. pests and companion planting so that I am not reliant on chemicals and can look forward to reaching an organic garden status. I lost half my cabbages this week to cabbage moth grubs because I didn't have garlic or dill planted nearby to discourage them. How do I know that without attending the workshop - I emailed Karen.  

Shoestring's mission is to encourage ecological self-sufficiency and provide practical examples of how it can be achieved without spending a lot of money.  This makes it ideal for ALL Wyndham's residents not just those who can afford to hire a landscaper and gardener. As a full time worker, I could not have accomplished what I have this year without being able to attend weekend workshops.  Many other programs are only on during the week.  During this year my husband was unemployed for almost 5 months as were many others in our community.  This new found hobby/interest not only kept me sane but provided us with food, a common interest and all without incurring further debt.             

Nothing spreads quicker than by word or mouth.   In the last few workshops Ive been able to bring along friends and promote Shoestring's courses and those provided by other community groups.  Yesterday, I and a friend learnt to make Feta cheese in an Edible Gardens workshop (blog post pending) and I have also taken other residents to the veggie swap at the Mamborine Sensory Garden (see post) which was promoted by Shoestring.  In July, ill be taking more along to the Werribee Heritage Orchard for grafting day.  When I build my chicken coop, ill be sourcing my building materials, chickens and pellets from local businesses.  Why, because I learnt from local people, who have the same environmental conditions that I have (clay anyone).  They have promoted local businesses and so the local economy benefits.    As you can see, this wonderful program is a catalyst for so many others within the community of Wyndham.  I've said it before, it takes courage to step out and do new things.  I know now that I can always look forward to a friendly face that Ive been introduced to at the workshops and this gives me the confidence to keep on reaching elsewhere.                  

I'm not a "greenie" but I do believe that in the future we will need to look to providing food for ourselves for economic and health reasons.   There are too many factors in the current system of food supply that are open to manipulation by large companies for profits that are also environmentally unsound.  Wyndham City Council have shown their commitment to growing a healthy community by funding the Growing Community Workshops but it needs to be ongoing.  How sad it is to tell someone about the workshops that Ive done and then to have to say, Oh, but they may not continue due to lack of funding.  I don't know where to send them. 

For the first time in 18 years, i had no problem paying my rates.  I knew that a small portion of it was helping to grow MY community and to help some very special people continue their important work.  I want to be proud of my city.  I want Wyndham to be at the forefront of helping its residence to lead healthier lives.  Instead of being known for its high crime rate, obesity, graffiti, or its ever expanding suburbs of identical boxes with no character, I want to see espaliered fruit trees on every fence and on every nature strip, herb boxes outside every kitchen window, bees hives throughout the city to aid pollination, communities sharing knowledge and vegetables, solar panels on top of all the big warehouses roofs and water tanks along the sides,  and wind turbines spotted around the city (PS. there are designs that don't make noise).

I will soon be doing a post of our cities creative public arts. Why, because I started noticing them.  I've become engaged with MY city, MY home.

Nope, not looking for applause (though it would be nice) but most definitely i hope i have encouraged someone to become engaged and if you believe in something, support it and fight for it.

Thanks for visiting Living In The Land of Oz

1 comment:

  1. Well done Lynda, I wonder if Ballarat has something like this. I love your blog. x


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