This website documents an experimental public environmental humanities research project taking place with and through the Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden.

The Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden opened in May 2015 as a collaborative initiative between Anaiwan Elder Uncle Steve Widders; former project manager, Mr Peter Hall; and postdoctoral research fellow Dr Kate Wright, alongside a committee of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members and organisational representatives. Since this time the community garden has been running as an activist platform for Aboriginal reclamation and cultural revival, as well as an experimental pedagogical and public environmental humanities research site that promotes alternatives to neoliberal, colonial and anthropocentric ways of thinking and living.

While the community garden has a life of its own that exceeds any human-directed research initiatives, and it is hoped that it will have a long-term community-directed future, this website is focused on the collaborative and deeply-engaged social and environmental outreach project directed by Kate Wright as part of her postdoctoral research. This project is a prototype for environmental humanities research in action, where the research team, comprised of academics, community members, and nonhuman inhabitants of the community garden, collectively work toward social and environmental justice with a focus on decolonising communities and environments.

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Dr Kate Wright, Anaiwan Elder Uncle Steve Widders & Gomeroi poet Rob Waters at the Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden, 2015

Community Garden Mission Statement

The Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden is a community-driven, grassroots initiative, directed by Aboriginal Elders and community leaders. Sited at “the Mish”, a part of town that was designated as the East Armidale Aboriginal Reserve in 1958, and is now known as Narwan Village, the community garden is a vibrant intergenerational, intercultural, and interspecies space for environmental and social healing, cultural revival activities, and community building. The community garden is currently directed by a core steering committee led by Anaiwan Elder Steve Widders, and is designed, through continuous and emplaced community contact, to support self-determination by maximising the ability for local Indigenous community members and families to drive education, health, cultural and artistic initiatives. The community garden aims to:

  • Provide a visible platform for community-driven celebrations of Aboriginal culture, histories, survival and resistance, creating a space for Aboriginal people to take control of their own narratives, and to share story and culture with the wider Armidale community and community garden visitors.
  • Empower and unite Armidale’s Aboriginal community through the cultivation of a safe space to explore community issues, build intergenerational networks, and foster community resilience.
  • Encourage health and wellbeing by providing access to fresh food, building community networks, promoting cultural revival and supporting self-determination. By fostering ongoing connection to Country based on Indigenous environmental science and sophisticated land management practices embedded in Aboriginal cultures and traditions, we work together with the natural world to adopt a holistic understanding of what it means to live well.

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