If ever you want proof that doing a TAFE course will bring great rewards, ask the participants that completed the Certificate II in Horticulture last year; the results were outstanding.
Chances are some of the delicious fresh fruit and veg you’ve bought at the Geraldton Railway Markets was grown and packed by Durack Institute of Technology horticulture students.
Eighteen students completed their Certificate II in Horticulture at Morawa last year through a project funded by the Community Development Fund overseen by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
In a partnership with Karara Mining Ltd, MEEDAC and Durack - and under the supervision of MEEDAC’s horticulturist Harry Taylor, the enthusiastic students learnt all aspects of horticulture in a real work environment.
A Certificate II Horticulture Work Place Assessment (WPA) course has been running at Morawa since late 2013, and throughout last year, at the Geoff Wedlock Innovation Park 36km east of Morawa which is leased to MEEDAC by owner, Karara Mining.
Milton Milloy Business Development Manager for MEEDAC, said the farm operates as a community project that allows MEEDAC to get job seekers job ready and provides training whilst working on the farm.
“It gets participants in employment whilst developing a commercial enterprise to hopefully employ some of the participants in the future,” he said.
“The participants have undertaken ongoing activities at the farm including preparing the soil, laying weed matting, planting, irrigation, weed control, pest management, harvesting, grading and packaging the stock.
“The fresh produce is then transported and sold at the Geraldton Railway Markets, local Morawa supermarkets and also to the Karara mine site.
“The crops have varied seasonally from peas, spring onions, tomatoes, watermelons and rockmelons and the project has been so successful production has exceeded expectations and some of the produce is even being sent to Perth,” said Mr Milloy proudly.
This project has a strong relationship with Karara Mining Ltd responsible for the largest active Mine in the Mid West, and Sodexo, who provide camp services at Karara minesite.
Durack Lecturer in Conservation and Land Management, Alice James, said the project has been extremely successful for the students and project partners and provides a vital and real gateway to employment for the participants.
“A great spin off from this is that Karara has plans for suitable jobseekers to work alongside their environmental staff and gain hands on experience in this aspect of the operation at Karara, in addition to possibly undertaking ongoing training in Conservation and Land Management,” she said.
“The students from this project are very interested in doing their Certificate III in Horticulture and Certificate II CALM – focussing on native seed collection and revegetation - with Karara.
“This will lead into future employment as they will require the services of people suitably trained in the future,” said Ms James.
“This is a great outcome from the project and we’d encourage other companies to consider partnering to establish similar projects throughout the region; the benefits are enormous.”
The participants celebrated their hard work and achievements with a well-deserved graduation ceremony at the farm on 11th December last year, what a great way to wrap up their year.