Australian Aboriginal peoples have been observing seasonal change, environmental interaction, patterns of weather and climate, and changes in the night sky for tens of thousands of years. Indigenous science is grounded in empirical observation and a deep understanding of connectivity and complex ecological interdependencies. From the Garden: Food, Medicine and Stories was a science engagement project in Armidale that celebrated this unique and sophisticated knowledge. This project was funded by Inspiring Australia as part of National Science Week, 2015.

First Nation scholars across the globe continue to emphasise the need to legitimise Indigenous methodologies and knowledge systems within academia. From the Garden: Food, Medicine and Stories was a public outreach series of workshops, lectures and community events held at the Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden, and on the University of New England campus.

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Academics, students, artists,horticulturalists joined with Elders to share knowledge in the Arts and Sciences. Workshops on Aboriginal weaving, language revival and
Indigneous environmental and meteorological knowledges were designed to create a decolonising environment that resists the cognitive imperialism of Western knowledge systems, promoting Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies. Plants, insects, animals, and other nonhuman elements like weather and rain, became collaborators in this innovative, anticolonial community-oriented and community-directed science project.

 

 

D’harawal Elder Aunty Fran Bodkin teaching students from Minimbah primary school about a memory tree.

 

D’Harawal Edler Aunty Fran Bodkin, a traditional knowledge holder with multiple western university degrees across the arts and sciences, travelled to Armidale to present a public lecture on Aboriginal science, and a workshop for highschool and primary school students at the Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden, in connection with the From the Garden outreach program.

Final F Bodkin Poster

You can listen to Fran Bodkin in conversation with Dr Kate Wright here:

 

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Below are some photographs and videos of students participating in Aunty Fran Bodkin’s workshop at the garden on Friday 21st August, 2015.

 

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University of New England academics Dr Jeremy Bruhl and Professor R.D.B Whalley presented free workshops on plants and grasses for highschool students from Armidale High’s Clontarf Academy; while UNE academic Dr Tommy Leung held a workshop on the echidna for Minimbah primary school students.

 

Horticulturalist Dylan Dempster also shared his knowledge of plant harvesting with students from the Clontarf academy (video below).

 

From the Garden promoted cultural revival in order to draw attention to the sophisticated environmental science and knowledge networks embedded in practises and languages. Ambēyaŋ weaver Gabi Briggs hosted a Lomandra weaving workshop for Aboriginal women from Armidale High School and O’Connor Cathololic School (pictured above) while Ambēyaŋ language revivalist Callum Clayton-Dixon held an Anaiwan Language Revival session for community at the garden (video below).

 

 

 

 

To conclude the From the Garden program, in November 2015, Murawari man and Aboriginal Astronomy presenter from the Sydney Observatory travelled to Armidale to present a public lecture on Aboriginal Astronomy at the University of New England, and a guider tour of the night sky for community at the garden.

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