Since 1986 Refugee Week has celebrated the valuable contributions made by refugees to the Australian community, creating better understanding between different communities and encouraging successful integration strategies in communities across Australia.
With strong multicultural roots since the post-war Bonegilla Migrant Centre, Albury Wodonga has welcomed refugees from countries in crisis for many decades. From Lao refugees of the Vietnam war to people from Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka and elsewhere more recently, our community has developed a variety of integration pathways and support for newcomers.
Parklands is pleased to contribute to these welcoming community pathways. In 2015 Parklands was approached by the Bhutanese Community Association in Albury Inc. for assistance with developing an organic community farm as a social enterprise for refugees.
Parklands was also able to partner with other groups to employ three Bhutanese community members as part time farm rangers and develop a successful community garden and a catering enterprise. The Farm rangers also worked as leaders on Parklands environmental projects, giving volunteers valuable employment skills in environmental restoration tasks.
In 2018, in reponse to the needs of new community members, the community farm diversified to offer individual plots, resulting in families from diverse backgrounds including Congolese and Nepali sharing knowledge and experience to produce healthy food. People struggling with finding work, learning English and making contacts in the community have found that the garden grows social connections and a sense of confidence, as well as fresh food, fresh air and exercise.
Now, a whole range of African and Asian vegetables grow at the Gateway Island community farm. The exchange of organic gardening methods has expanded to the exchange of knowledge about food and fibre, from cooking new vegetables to processing grain to weaving baskets and creating roof thatch. The farm provides a safe place for people to learn about their new country, exchange skills and knowledge, improve language and employment skills, socialise, and share their culture while producing organic vegetables for sale to the local community.
Parklands acknowledge the tireless efforts of new community members to share culture, to learn, to grow and to improve lives here on the Border. You enrich our community and expand our horizons.
We thank our partners and supporters of the Communuity Farm on Gateway Island who continue to contribute in a myriad of ways from ensuring water supply for the gardens to improving access.