Sofia
Carvajal

Project: Advocating for Green Open Space– Hurstville Community Garden

Sofia is a multimedia producer who has produced many short films, corporate videos, community group websites for local community groups, universities and government entities. She has also produced radio programs for 2SER 107.3 radio.

Sofia’s passion for climate change education and activism has led her to play a role in the local community as president of Hurstville Community Garden. Her aim as president of the garden is to influence, encourage awareness and participation of new programs for adults and children in the wider community by 20% by March 2020.

In her spare time Sofia likes to make things, garden and is slowly learning how to become a better cook for the sake of her family.

MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET

I had always wanted to grow vegetables, so I joined Hurstville community garden. I loved it! It’s a magical process of watching food grow before your eyes.  The food is organic, fresh and the best tasting I have ever cooked. Not to mention seasonal and with a low carbon footprint.  Six months later, I was nominated as the next president of the garden.

I initially balked, as I’ve never been in a leadership position before. But slowly I came to the remembered an old quote. “Somebody should do something about that. Then I realized I am somebody.”

It is imperative to step up to the challenge of climate change and make a difference however small. The garden is a rare green open space which needs protection, promotion and utilisation by the wider Hurstville community.

MY PROJECT

My project is a garden educational program; an initiative that has been established for some years but one that I would like to further develop and expand. The program seeks to educate people from all walks of life on how we can all make a difference, however small.

Our first target group is school children. We have successfully run both programs during school terms and school holiday programs for many years. Children are supervised during hands-on activities (which they love!) that connect the dots between keeping litter off our streets and healthy soil in their patch of nature. The program has achieved the fantastic results of repeat visits by schools and participant’s parents over the years. No doubt these pupils will one day return to getting their hands in the soil, once they are older.

The second program, implemented this year, is aimed at people who are eligible for the Newstart allowance actively looking for jobs in the horticultural industry. This group can volunteer to partake in garden duties such as planting, weeding and landscape gardening, which builds practical experience, promotes self-esteem and strengthens feelings of connection within their community. The hours they contribute to the garden also contribute to fulfilling their Newstart obligations and helps to open up opportunities within participant’s chosen fields within the horticultural industry.

The third program is a community-driven, grass roots level, balcony gardening project which aims to teach apartment dwellers in the Georges River area how to grow their own organic seasonal produce.  This will not only delight our participants, but also promotes self-sufficiency, responsible water management, and results in organic, seasonal fresh produce with a low carbon footprint.

 As Hurstville is a wonderfully diverse suburb with people from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Nepal, Japan, Indonesia and Latin America, this program is heavily community-driven, currently in development catering to local neighbourhood needs and with the support of an interpreter to support inclusivity. We also look to implement a seed saving program in the future in collaboration with other seed saving groups and our local library to fortify our local seed biodiversity. We are proud to work with, and support, Georges River Council, which is joining the Cities Power Partnership, and will follow five key actions pursuing renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and working together with other councils.

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