Sandra Belling and Sandra Randell planted garlic at yesterday’s open day.
Sandra Belling and Sandra Randell planted garlic at yesterday’s open day.

Innovation Farm grows people

PLANTING vegetables has taught Tex Rowe a lot about herself.

Not only has she learnt about soil erosion, irrigation and netting, Miss Rowe has learnt how to work in a team and the satisfaction of reaping the benefits of growing your own foods.

“To watch the plants come from a seed to become a plant is just awesome. I absolutely love it here, it has been so rewarding,” she said.

The Bellingen local has been working for 13 weeks and will graduate from the program that combines work and social skills on a farm setting.

“I’d love to be able to start my own farm and create local jobs now I’ve learnt so much,” she said.

The Coffs Coast Innovation Farm is run by CHESS, a local employment agency. The new initiative is funded by the Australian Government and aims to provide support for long-term unemployed people.

“At the heart of it, we grow people,” project manager Cath Cosgrave said.

Yesterday the farm hosted an Organic Planting Day as Part of the 2010 North Coast Innovation Festival. The successful day promoted what the farm offers disadvantaged job seekers.

More than 60 people attended the day and volunteered their green thumbs for planting and harvesting.

The program is still in the piloting phase and today will mark only the second graduating group.

The Coffs Coast Innovation Farm is one of a kind in Australia and is leading the charge using horticultural based social training.

“We’re particularly interested in social innovation,” Ms Cosgrave said.



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