This project has 3 primary goals:-
Enable African people to teach Toowoomba people new methods of growing food in backyard gardens.
Assist African immigrants to integrate into Australian society. Continue to use the community garden at the Heights Community Centre to assist vulnerable and disadvantaged people living locally.
Over the last 5-6 years approximately 2500 people who were once African refugees have re-located to Toowoomba. Heights community centre is providing a venue where African people can showcase gardening methods that involve legitimate food production, which is their area of expertise.
Many Western backyard gardens are more about novelty or convenience growing, because we in the west can always visit the supermarket if we need to. Africans have not had this luxury and therefore their knowledge and expertise in growing high yielding crops from small parcels of land is very high. Such crops are not only high yielding, they can also be stored (eg. beans, corn) so the grower can have food which lasts long after the harvest season. It is commonly stated by people that have visited African family gardens in Toowoomba, that the amount of food they grow from a small area is
A 2011 survey conducted by Charles Kitapindu (Lifeline immigration survey, 2011) found that we still have a long way to go in reaching the goal of integrating people from Africa into Toowoomba’s wider community. The lifeline survey revealed an African unemployment rate of 86% and identified language, cultural misconceptions and transport as the 3 primary issues related to this statistic. Although new arrivals study English at TAFE, true fluency is obtained when African families develop friendships and socialise with English or “Aussie” speaking Australians. Charles from lifelinesays; “Africans need to get connected”. Heights Community Centre would like to utilise a communitygarden concept to help address this need. In particular we would like to focus our attention on the approximately 60 families who have recently arrived late last year from the Democratic Republic of Congo who speak very little English, and don’t have any Australian friends yet.