After months of working remotely with the Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) and the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) to set up a drought proof micro farm, UNSW Impact Engineering Students and Makerspace Network Manager, Melinda Wimbourne, were able to make a COVID safe “bubble” visit to Walgett to work alongside DEG and WAMS staff in the WAMS community garden.
The Impact Engineering students have designed unique polytunnel shade structure designs which use inexpensive and widely available materials and simple design to make effective shade structures for the Biofilta wicking beds that are being installed in the community garden. These beds were successfully tested by Impact Students over the last year and shown to be successful in the harsh and dry conditions of remote far north-west NSW. The shade structure design ensures the beds will be able to work effectively.
As the visit could not be confirmed until days before it took place due to COVID-related restrictions on travel, the students also made videos to demonstrate how to put the shade structures together.
To keep the visit COVID-safe, WAMS offered UNSW collaborators self contained accommodation and limited the number of staff who were allowed to visit the students in the garden. They also conducted quick turnaround tests for all visitors on Monday morning which allowed work to commence once negative tests were returned for all participants.
The YN team is thrilled that this work has been able to go ahead under the circumstances. The students have shown incredible resilience and adaptivity in continuing their support of this vital project from a distance and this visit was greatly valued by DEG, WAMS and other Walgett collaborators and has enabled us to progress to the next phase of the community garden project.
The students will make a return visit in December and participate in an On-Country Induction with Elders from the DEG and to begin work on a seed propagation project in the garden.