Job seekers in Onslow are literally enjoying the fruits of their labours, with their newly established garden at the REFAP office yielding a variety of fresh produce.
REFAP’s Community Pride participants built and created the garden over a few months. Community Pride is one of the activities under the Community Development Program, an Australian government initiative that works with job seekers, organisations, employers, community members and stakeholders to increase employment and build stronger communities in remote areas.
The garden project has been a learning experience for all of the job seekers involved. Activity Supervisor, Italo Palermo, has lived in Onslow for 18 years, but he was able to impart the knowledge and passion for gardening that he developed in his homeland, Italy.
“REFAP in Karratha provided materials for the project, including timber poles and shade cloth. It was hard work building the garden in the beginning, and it’s still early days, but I’m hopeful it will be a success,” Italo said.
Under Italo’s guidance, the job seekers built the garden structure and planted out the seeds, learning how to best care for the plants in the process.
REFAP’s Employment Consultant in Onslow, Phillip Martin, is full of praise for their efforts, and the transformation from barren to bountiful.
“Italo and our job seekers have been phenomenal in creating our garden over recent months,” Phillip said. “From nothing, it’s grown into some beautiful, fresh green basil, mint and parsley. Chillies are nearly ready to burst with red and green, along with Lebanese cucumbers. Coriander, carrots and spring onions will also be ready soon.”
Getting their hands dirty is not new to REFAP’s Community Pride participants. They have previously helped with a number of local gardening activities, including the Onslow Community Garden and the cemetery. They also help the elderly with all sorts of gardening projects.
Italo hopes the REFAP office garden will be the start of a bigger outreach.
“We would like to establish a similar garden in Minderoo. We are always willing to do whatever we can to help people in our community,” he said.