First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation is a small charity that specialises in finding hands-on solutions for issues faced by Aboriginal people, families and communities and particularly young Aboriginal people; youth incarceration, suicide and mental health issues amongst Indigenous youth are some of the highest in the world.
In 2019, the team at First Hand Solutions started IndigiGrow with the aim of employing their young people and giving them the opportunity to work on Country with their own traditional plants.
IndigiGrow helps sustain and strengthen people, land and culture through the propagation of native plants, including bush foods and the critically endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS).
IndigiGrow is a 100% Aboriginal owned and operated, not-for-profit, native plant nursery that employs 6 Aboriginal apprentices and 9 Aboriginal staff; overall including 8 full-timers.
As Aboriginal people, the team at IndigiGrow know, all too well, that the dispossession of culture is having a detrimental effect on our young people. Their priority with all the programs they provide is to help their young people to reconnect to traditional culture by working with and gaining skills, knowledge and experience from positive Aboriginal role models and skilled Aboriginal community elders.
IndigiGrow strives to deliver positive cultural and environmentally sustainable projects by growing & reviving local critically endangered native plants and native edibles. Through transfer of cultural knowledge to their apprentices, and by allowing opportunities for the wider community to engage and learn, IndigiGrow educates and introduces people to the wide ranging benefits of native plants.
IndigiGrow ensures that the cultural knowledge of their people is understood, protected and respected.
The IndigiGrow project is a working model that shows not only urban communities how to live sustainably, but also a scalable model for regional & remote communities; they retain culture while increasing local biodiversity and fauna in a critically endangered environment.
IndigiGrow does important conservation work by monitoring local habitats and growing and replenishing many local native plant species that are culturally important to Aboriginal people, the local ecosystem and the wider community.
The Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub
With a focus on reconnecting Aboriginal people with 'caring for country', IndigiGrow’s Aboriginal bush regenerators work with experts in the field, including specialists in endangered ecological communities to rehabilitate the land. The critically endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS) is one of our specialisations.
The Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub once occupied around 5,300 hectares of land between North Head and Botany Bay in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The ESBS is an ecological scrub and health vegetation community, confined to deep, wind formed sand deposits in the coastal suburbs of Sydney. This was degraded, and now stands at approximately 146 hectares, as recorded by the local government areas of Botany, Randwick, Waverley, and Manly; this is a loss of over 97%. IndigiGrow is based in the areas of Sydney where this critically endangered ecological plant community is located.
In ecology, if you lose a fauna or flora species from the biome, you could potentially lose the entire ecosystem. Cultural interruption since European settlement has seen the Aboriginal people of Sydney disconnected from one of their beloved and important ecosystems, the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub. Due to a lack of fire management, land clearing & development and weed invasion, ESBS is now listed by the NSW Government as "critically endangered".
This project aims to revive and protect this critically endangered plant community which is made up of around 65 core plant species. Approximately 38% of these core plant species are edible bushfoods that the local Aboriginal community of Sydney are intrinsically connected to, and which could also be used for food purposes in the future.
For more information, check out IndigiGrow's website here.