It is great to talk about how business and community-based organisations or social enterprises might work together, but it is a different thing to put it into practice.
As a practitioner in the business-community field, I feel fortunate to have been introduced to Adrianne Talbot-Thomson and her colleagues in the southern suburbs of Wollongong last year. They possess a vibrancy and determination that is seldom seen in any organisation, and they have the results to show for it.
At that point in time, her Urban Grown initiative was more concept than reality, however it has since ‘grown’ to fruition. Partnerships have been integral to that journey; and in this interview, I was keen to explore the role that one business in particular played in the process.
There is a lot to learn from her experience:
Hi Adrianne, tell us about the Urban Grown project?
Urban Grown is a business that is currently growing and selling its first round of fresh produce in the Wollongong region of NSW, Australia. It is set up as a social enterprise, meaning that profits will be reinvested in the business for the purpose of operating a financially viable permaculture farm, which provides targeted employment through the production and sale of chemical free produce..
The site is located at Warrawong High School, on disused land that is ultimately owned by the NSW Department of Education and Communities. The Novotel Hotel, along with many other local partners, has played a key role in the development of our business.
How did it come about?
I’ve worked with various organisations in the southern suburbs of Wollongong for more than 10 years where there have been long-term and intergenerational unemployment issues. What we have found, though, is that many people do want to work, and that practical, hands-on opportunities help to meet that need. Read more