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Contact our Landcare facilitator Yonie on 0488 662 199
Planting made possible by the continued support of Handbury Family.
A Wimmera farming community and a busload of new Australians, many of them refugees, will be coming together on the last weekend in May to leave their mark on our landscape - they are coming to plant some trees. Putting aside language and cultural barriers, they will find simple things in common such as the shared pleasure of planting seedlings that will one day grow into trees. This sounds like an overly romantic, multicultural dream but it happens in the Yarriambiack Shire every winter. Rural Australia is often stereotyped as xenophobic and as a place where the environment is seen as something to be tamed rather than nurtured. The reality is inevitably much more subtle and more complex. The Yarrilinks Community Planting Weekend offers the opportunity for some other, less stereotypical but definitely “typical”, qualities of modern rural Australia to shine through.
Since 1999, “Yarrilinks” has been held primarily on private farmland within the Yarriambiack Shire. The landholders prepare the site and hope for a good break and planting conditions; then they are generally taken aback by the enthusiasm and energy with which up to 200 people, most of them new migrants or refugees, descend on their farm, having come all the way from Melbourne, to help them restore a part of their farm to a more natural state. The buses arrive; there is a frenzy of cheerful activity. Trees are planted and lunch, prepared as a fundraiser by a local committee, is shared around a campfire. Trees are watered, and buses leave again. Trees have been planted by over 1000 volunteers from 30 different nationalities.
The challenge of accommodating so many visitors to the area is overcome by the very generous, but again typically rural solution of locals opening their home to small groups and families whom they find welcome beds for on the Friday and Saturday nights. Yarrilinks President Whitney Kingston said, “What sounds like a simple, practical way of housing a hundred plus people in a rural area is actually one of the truly special parts of the weekend.” Hosting someone from a different culture and in some cases very challenging backgrounds has invariably been found by hosts to be a fascinating, humbling and above all, very positive experience. The weekend culminates on Saturday night, when a feast, prepared by volunteer staff from the world-famous restaurant chain and social enterprise, Lentil as Anything, is shared by all involved. This meal beautifully showcases our locally grown pulses - various lentil and chickpea varieties.
The Yarrilinks Community Planting Weekend is made possible thanks to support from Geoff Handbury through Ace Radio Broadcasters, Victoria Government grants, local volunteers and host families. It provides a fantastic boost to the local environment, economy and community. The event rotates between Yarriambiack Shire towns, providing a boost to small businesses and the local economy with supplies and services sourced when possible from the host community.
If you would like to be part of this special event, please contact Rae Talbot on 0429 868 167 or Tim Inkster on 0488 662 199.