NAIDOC week falls on the first week of July, and is a time to celebrate and recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements - especially for the younger generations.
Northey Street City Farm is holding its next Earth Kids program from the 3rd to the 7th of July, during NAIDOC week, and will again feature Uncle Joe Kirk sharing his knowledge of bush tucker and First Nations culture to the children.
Uncle Joe Kirk is from the Wakka Wakka tribe (which extends from the South Burnett to the Central Burnett) and was raised in Cherbourg. The knowledge he has of bush tucker and cultural survival skills has been passed down to him through generations of his family.
Learning from Uncle Joe Kirk
On the last Earth Kids program, Uncle Joe’s visit was one of the highlights for many of the kids. They loved being able to crush the leaves of the soap tree (also known as red ash), mixing them in water and discovering how the leaves can be made into a soapy lather that they used to wash their faces. Uncle Joe also introduced the kids to the ‘bush banana mint’ which could be found at the farm, and the kids delighted in searching for more amongst the garden beds. Uncle Joe also talked about the many uses of the grass tree (Xanthorea spp) – the base of the leaves for food, a layer of the leaves as a mattress, the seeds for food and decorations and showed the kids the flower spike, which can be used as a spear.
The farm makes for a great site to learn more about bush tucker as there are dozens of kinds of bush tucker on site including bunya trees, lemon myrtle trees, native ginger, and native raspberries.
At the last Earth Kids program, Uncle Joe also read the kids a couple of his storybooks, including ‘Kaurna’, the story of the father emu, Karana, who cares for his chicks and teaches them everything they need to know to survive in the bush.
Taking Indigenous Awareness Further
Northey Street City Farm was inspired to include First Nations content into our Earth Kids program as we are bringing this into many of the aspects of work we are doing. A group of volunteers, staff and management committee members has come together to work on decolonisation, reconciliation and First Nations engagement at the farm. So far we have raised an Aboriginal flag on site, had a First Nations forum on Caring for Country at last year’s Winter Solstice festival, visited the Ration Shed at Cherbourg to learn about the history of the people that were relocated there, and have had several discussions about First Nations culture and knowledge, led by Goorang Goorang man Michael Williams who is on the farm’s management committee. In the coming twelve months we will be running cultural awareness programs for the farm staff and will continue to include First Nations culture as a key part of our Earth Kids programs.
Connecting Kids To Their Environment
Through the Earth Kids week, as well as the kids exploring Indigenous knowledge, they will have the opportunity to experiment with bushcraft skills like shelter building, practice Earth connection and Earth awareness skills, and practice permaculture approaches to composting and gardening. In the July program we are excited to have Andy Currey from Sun and Stars bushcraft as a special guest presenter.
The essence of ‘Earth Kids’ is about supporting kids to become ‘nature smart’ – to have the knowledge, understandings and skills to engage in creating a more sustainable world – in a fun and interactive way. The key way to do this is to learn from nature, and this is a big part of the week. The kids learn some core routines for nature connection (as outlined in the wonderful book ‘Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature’), such as daily ‘magic spots’, learning bird language, expanding the senses, and exploring field guides.
Learning from and working with nature is a key part of permaculture, which is what the farm is all about, and also forms an important part of First Nations traditional knowledge. By having practices that support us to learn from nature, we can all become ‘nature smart’.
For more information or to secure a spot at the Northey Street City Farm Earth Kids school holiday program, visit their website here.