The Bourke Community Garden Project

  • Bourke Community garden
    Bourke Community garden
  • Community garden opening group
    Community garden opening group.
By
Charlene Noye, Director of Multidisciplinary Programs
North-West Academic Centre, Broken Hill University. Department of Rural Health, University of Sydney
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The Bourke Community Garden Project is a collaborative initiative designed to improve the population health outcomes for the Bourke community. By providing accessible and high-quality nutritional produce, the Project addresses critical issues related to food security in Australia's rural and remote areas. The garden is an innovative, community-led design and cultural space that embeds First Nations worldviews into its design, implementation, and operation.

The recent accomplishments of the Bourke Community Garden Project emphasize its positive impact on the community's health outcomes. In early 2023, the Community Garden team secured funding from the nib foundation for $300,000 over 3 years, with the possibility of extension.

Crucially, the Bourke Community Garden Project directly addresses the challenges faced by rural communities in accessing fresh, quality produce. As rural areas struggle with rising costs of living, agricultural challenges, and global events, the Project aims to alleviate these struggles. Recognising the link between poor nutrition and health outcomes, projects like this play a vital role in improving food access to these communities.

The Bourke Community Garden aims to annually provide quality produce to feed a minimum of 40 households, mitigate financial burdens for 20 households in need, generate local employment opportunities, attract qualified professionals to the region, and foster a health-promoting natural environment.

Dietetic students and landscape architecture students from the University of Sydney (USYD) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have actively contributed to practical education initiatives in partnership with the Community Greening team from the Royal Botanic Gardens -- involving cooking classes, nutrition label education, propagation education, and more. The Community Garden has also become a fantastic educational experience for young children with the creation of a new “Children’s Corner” providing safe engagement for children and families with visits from preschool and other community children’s programs. The team are also continuously testing and refining carp compost mounds. Over 2 tonnes of carp were removed from the river through a local fishing competition and re-purposed into fish fertiliser and soil improver for the Community Garden.

The official grand opening of the Bourke Community Garden marked a significant milestone, highlighting the achievements to date and setting ambitious goals for the future. Looking ahead in 2024 and beyond, collaboration with the North-West Academic Centre (NWAC) demonstrates a commitment to a strong and robust evaluation, ensuring the project's ongoing success and identifying opportunities for growth.

Collaboration with community-based organisations is at the heart of this Project to enhance capacity and sustainability. The Bourke Community Garden Project takes a multi-organisational approach and has been developed in collaboration with community-based organisations including Regional Enterprise Development Institute (REDI.E) and the Bourke Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (BACHS), the Royal Botanical Garden’s Community greening program, and the higher education sector including the Faculty of Medicine and Health (USYD) and Global Water Institute / School of Built Environment (UNSW) and nib foundation.

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