Don Burke with Kalwun Health Service Food Box Organisers

Gold Coast Permaculture Supports Local Indigenous Health Initiative

Don Burke with Kalwun Health Service and ATSICHS Food Box Organisers

Early in 2012, Gold Coast Permaculture was approached by the Kalwun Health Service based at Miami on the Gold Coast. The Kalwun Health Service, in association with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service, provides GP, dental, mental health, child, family and maternal, diabetes, ophthalmology, optometry, podiatry and dietary services to the indigenous community on the Gold Coast.

The purpose of the approach was to seek assistance and support from Gold Coast Permaculture in the provision of three ‘food boxes’ or boxes of vegetables planted up and workshops as a part of the Garden Box project designed to encourage home food production among the indigenous community.  The project is being organised and run by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Service for the Gold Coast Kalwun Health Service.

The workshops are to provide some background on how to grow vegetables both in the garden boxes and in the garden itself.  The food boxes were made available as examples of how easy, what and how food can be planted and raised and giving all participants the incentive to then continue on and grow more of their own food.

In addition to the food boxes provided, Gold Coast Permaculture was requested to also make available enough seedlings to the project for the purpose of planting up some 50 more boxes on the day the initiative was launched.

Gold Coast Permaculture answered the call and participated in the launching of this event on 29 May, 2012. Kalwun Health Services obtained the support of TV ’Celebrity Gardener’, Don Burke of “Burke’s Backyard” who flew from Sydney to launch this event. With much enthusiasm Don gave project participants a lesson in how to put one’s box of soil and other material together and then went on to show how to transplant the seedlings into the boxes. This was followed up by many, 50 in fact, excited and eager participants emulating the ‘expert’.

The first workshop was held on Thursday 7 June at the Kalwun Health Service premises. Charles, from Gold Coast Permaculture, nervously led the group through a basic introduction to organic gardening and worm farming in a one hour session. The enthusiasm for this project is amazing and this workshop is to be followed up in two weeks on 21 June with a visit to Gold Coast Permaculture’s base at 270 Ferry Road for a more practical ‘on the ground’ session.

Sonya and Gold Coast Traditional Owners with Don Burke at the Garden Box Project Launch

One of the magical things that came out of the workshop on 7 June was the decision by the group to establish a community garden so that they can grow vegetables for themselves on at least two Gold Coast sites. The Garden Box Project has already done what it set out to do. That is, to create a ground swell of interest amongst the local indigenous community for the growing of good healthy organic vegetables. They have grasped this opportunity with both hands and we at Gold Coast Permaculture are proud to be a part of it. Staff at Kalwun Health Service and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service are to be congratulated.

The 21 June visit will be followed up with a further workshop in July conducted by Justin, who will then have returned from a torrid time in Brazil working on behalf of Gold Coast Permaculture.  Justin’s workshop will focus upon how the group can generate their own soil through composting and worm farming.

Gold Coast Permaculture will continue its association with the Kalwun organisation and provide ongoing assistance to the local indigenous people and traditional owners to the best of our ability in the growing of food at home and in the community. We will be very much involved in the establishment of the proposed community garden. This is the best way all of us in every community can improve our physical and mental health and also, improve our social lives. Importantly, it also cuts down on food bills and gives us great tasting organic produce for the table.

Organic vegetable gardening is truly a wonderful elixir for the soul. If you are not yet doing it, we highly recommend you give it a try.