Page 1532 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 June 2022

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What was so very special about those planting days—and I know that you were there, Mr Assistant Speaker Cain, on a different day to me—was the wide range of ages that were there, from young to old and everyone in between. It was an extraordinary community effort. I think that comes as no surprise to those of us who have been engaged with the Holt Micro-Forest in the 14 months since its inception, with it taking the personal endeavours of community members applying for grants and then doing the most amazing amount of community fundraising—$25,000—in just a short period of time. Many very serious sponsors attached their name to this project, all because there was a vision and people genuinely believed in this and what this could give back to the community: the real gift that is being given to and will continually give back to the community.

I think that was most evidently on display over the community planting days that occurred on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday just past, with the sensitive design being realised and the many, many, helpers who came together to literally see the program, the vision, come to life, come off the ground, as so many plants were planted and the forest was realised. The food forest as well made up such a big part of that. I think that the residents of Holt are very lucky. But I also know that the Holt Micro-Forest team want this to be a gift to the whole community and would love for people right across Canberra, and perhaps even interstate, to see this as a bit of a destination, to take some inspiration from it, to enjoy the surroundings while they are there and as they change over time, but also perhaps to use it as a model to bring back to their own communities so that the micro-forest concept can gain even more legs, so to speak.

I will speak briefly about my own participation, which was on Friday morning, which was the school planting day and then morphed later that day into more of a community planting day. I was very lucky to spend some time with the Green Team from Latham Primary School, who were incredibly energetic and enthusiastic—if not at the start then certainly towards the end.

Members would recall that last week we received a considerable amount of rain, particularly on Friday morning, that then did ease by about 9 am. That made for some very happy conditions! No-one was able to get away from mud and getting that quite thick clay stuck all over our bodies and especially our shoes. But it was great to get in there and to see such energy from these young people, who really got stuck into planting, who were able to put tree guards that they had designed themselves around these plants and, in what felt like literal moments but was really an hour, were able to see the product of their hard work.

Just drawing from the Facebook page, some of the comments are: “I can’t believe this is so rewarding.” “This is the best!” “This mud is so fun!” “I found an earthworm.” “Our Green Team is so cool.” Yes, yes, it certainly was.

I offer my thanks and my warmest congratulations to every single person involved in making this a reality. There is still plenty more work to go, as there always will be, because this is a forest that will continually be tended across generations, I hope. But particularly—this is not an exhaustive list—can I pass on my thanks to Edwina, Caroline, Gerard, Janet, Sylvia and the indefatigable Jennifer Bardsley, who has been quite extraordinary in her push for this. (Time expired.)

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