Ep.16 APACE Community Non-Profit Native Nursery - Jo Heta

You're on the plants grow here podcast. I'm Daniel Fuller. Come along with me as we enter a hidden world of deep horticultural, ecological and landscape gardening knowledge with featured experts, industry professionals and enthusiasts. Our pace or a pace is a self sustaining, not for profit benevolent community native nursery, doing a number of really cool things in the space. Today, we have as our guest, the coordinator of the organization, Jo Heta. G'day Jo, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me, Dan.
So what is a pace? And how did you guys get started?
Okay, a pace originated back in 1985. From what was called the appropriate to technology and community enterprise. The group was made up by a group of professors and students academics from Murdoch University, and they want to demonstrate sustainable living. Part of the thing here was how to build a sustainable houses. We have a rammed earth building, they done how to fill the place using rammed earth, alternative solar housing, and just who won the very first that had solar panels and wind frames, all of that type of thing. And we also done recycling, it was one of the very first recycling composting and alternative energy places then, wha. And the nursery actually started an ADA, there was a bicycle Centennial community grant given for rocky Bay Cliff or some planting. And so pace set up a small nursery hothouse. And we actually grew 10,000 plants were planted for their enterprise. And then in 1998, with the support of more friends groups, and council employees, we sat around courses, and one of them was the bush regeneration course, this was the first course of its type NWA. And then I've got mainstream through to the link equals is it TAFE. And it was a very popular, in addition to those, we did run several courses back in the day, and there was lots of grants it provided for those. But as the grants kind, like dried up a bit, the nursery expanded, with people wanting to plant more. And we were the biggest grower at the time of seizures and rashes and wetland species that were for the swan coastal plains area. So hence the name change to a pace in the later 90s, which stands for appropriate and community education. So we still want to keep a community and our educational focus while still doing the plants. And that's how a pace originated from back in the early days. To now we grow 450,000 native plants per year. So if you modify that over the last 20 years, we've certainly revegetated a lot of space in the Perth region, we do have the oldest community gardens and wha, and here at a pace as well, that's been going over 38 years, and has a total of 35 members and the community gardens, as well as we do have a little plot there, which is used by at Bell college as part of the community focus as well. So being one of the oldest community gatherings we get a lot of people come in here to have a look and see how it's set up and how its works and everything. But it's also part of what we are as well being able to offer them and that was one of the first initiate terms that were set up way back there in 1985. When it was the development idea and the compositing and everything. It's been going a long time.
So you guys have sort of got a bit of a focus, obviously on more of the native types of plants when you're talking about what you guys are actually selling there.
Yes, we only sell natives and that's all we only do web natives which are predominantly for the Perth region. It's called the swan coastal plains. So we basically sell what's gonna grow in your backyard.
Right plant right place. That's the one. So can you tell me a little bit about how a piece is different from other nurseries other than just that you only sell natives.
Okay? Being we're not for profit benevolent community nursery, so hence we don't have shareholders or anything like that. We learn on the funds that we make. We have not only the nursery we have revegetation services we have, we control we have landscaping design, so we were pretty well, basically a one stop shop, but that's the business side of us. So that money that we get from that, that allows us to also offer to the general public people with disabilities mental health. system, students that need to work experience all of that type of thing. And those that are socially challenged to come here, to regain skills to get to work, and the ground and rebuild confidence and get some training and the process of it. That is one of our segments, we've got like three segments that make us different. We're definitely a customer, people focused industry here, that anybody that comes through our door class, there's we care about them, we're not here, just take your money and shove you out the door. We also have a, as I said, the rammed earth building that was built back in the early 90s. We do have this as a venue hire, we only really lifted out during the day, and it said a very minimal cost. We have had community groups coming through here running courses during the day, we did have a mother's group that were here for nearly a year running a little coffee group every Friday just for new moms to get together. That went on for a year until she grew to like 35 people, which he outgrew the space. And I'm also doing a bit of promotion to try and get people to know that we're here by running different little events. And I want to establish one a match that is going to be quite a community based event here to get people and groups together. And to know that we're here and what we do as well.
So how do you see the Pacers role in the community, the role that I feel that we
do the most in the community here is offering the venue by as I mentioned before, for people with disabilities, social challenge mental health students to come here and get the support and regained confidence in a safe and sound environment. We have a very calming environment here where we are in North Fremantle. It's a beautiful with such pride on five acres. And as I said, we treat people as people not as machine. So we'd like people to build their confidence regain the strength to put them out there to forget. So they can give jobs and feel entitled for themselves.
So you basically providing support for people who may not have a whole lot of support out there. And you're helping them to rescale and provide a basically a broader future for them.
Yes, like we've had the ability center coming here for the last 20 odd years. And they come five times a week, one of the guys in South has actually is coming up to 20 years, being here, they come four days a week. And for them, this is their job, like we don't get paid that I get paid. But this is for them. And their wheelchairs, they come in the door pop cleaning and that type of thing. It's their job, and they love coming.
What have you personally learned since taking over the organization,
I took over from Tony Freeman, who retired earlier this year. And I've been actually in the role for the last couple of years. And it's a community aspect. And everybody that comes in I myself, I treat my own staff as how I want to be treated, and that everybody knows that we're sort of business, they know the TAs. And that's what we have at the organization has given so much over the years and has grown into such as we were one of the trendsetters, if you could say but we just kept as a little business. And that's why we're still our little community based business. But it's getting very hard for us as a community thing to survive against the private sector. So I do need to get acknowledgement of what we do out there and people to understand what we actually are and what we give back to the community.
If you had to briefly describe what you are, how would you say in a sentence, what it is that you are?
Oh, there's so many things that we can be? It's definitely the environmental side of things. And we take care of what we do. We don't just go in there and knock out things and spray for the sake of spraying. Everything's done with care, and attention.
Right. So you're an environmental nursery,
we definitely the environment is our main focus with a social conscience. That's someone that is definitely the one you have, you have to and we were all here because we love the environment. And that's why we planting these plants to keep the generation going on. And we have our seed bank here where we actually propagate provenance stocks. So that seed is going back into that same parks to be carried on the regeneration. So we've had seen him actually from the early 80s still from sites that are be longer, but we just hold it here we collect and hold it for the groups whenever they want them to either spread out or we just hold them for them.
That's really cool.
It's definitely it's a pretty amazing thing. So the provenance stock, I actually class that that seed is invaluable because if there was to be a fire Through that particular path or anything we've got saved, that would be the only standing seed to be put back in there.
Oh, absolutely, that's incredible. And do you have a lot of seeds that maybe not a whole lot of places, actually keeping
them would be somewhere that said, we had seed back to the 80s, which the viability of the seed will be pretty scarce. And some we have just Deborah with just to see if it will actually suit and the odd bits and pieces have. But there is a longitude viability of the seed. But it's all kept and temperature controlled foraging here.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the education and training that you guys offer?
Sure, we actually do courses, and C connection, propagation, we control those design and implementation, in addition to the standard courses that we can run. For people, we actually have a totally curriculum adapted courses that one of my staff has gone through, and he's mapped all of the curriculum to map our horticultural courses. So if a school was doing a particular unit on propagation, he would be able to map it and train it. So the training that they got actually tick those boxes. So are they formally recognizable training or not? anyway? That's all changed, unfortunately. So as a formally recognized, no,
you can still put on your resume. Absolutely. And show people?
Absolutely, absolutely. I have seen collection course we do that every year. And we've had the counsels of that coming for years. And to us doing that, again, it's a bit hard against the public sector, because there's a lot more people out there doing the courses now. And a lot of groups have managed to get grants and everything, we actually did manage to get a grant this year for several local community groups and everything, can we just in the process of running some of those courses as well. But unfortunately, if somebody has to pay for it, it's a bit more relaxing to see on that side of things.
Can you tell me a little bit about the payment structure for the training
on an average LC collection course, was 150, for the day to do a C connection, cause the propagation, we control courses, it depended they want to happen a course this is purpose. And of course, within a half a day, or a full day causes 100, or 150. We do Do for some of the councils and community groups where we will just go to them for a set price for the day and run the courses on site, on their sites and everything. So we can do that. So basically, we can structure a package for whatever you're wanting. But our main one that we run here that everybody has been wanting is the C collection course once a year.
So the most popular one.
Yeah, definitely those on demand because they if anybody comes and says we want to run a weed control course, then we can certainly set that for them no problems at all.
And you mentioned that there was also some training there that you were offering sort of a special service for people with disabilities and mental problems and stuff like that.
That's allowing them actually to come to our premises here. The pays to be social with the groups, be planting, be propagating all of that type of thing. It's just getting them into the industry. And that's separate well, so they're all just part of it. They're just treated like one of the staff that just integrated with staff and all work together. They're not socially separated or anything like that. No, of
course not. Yeah. Yeah. That's wonderful.
That's a big path. And that's what I want to keep going and I want to be able to offer more but I'm limited by my staff my funding set type of thing to how many people as I said, we've had 300 people through here plus over the last nice goes from the Leeming high schools castle raise at well colleges, Seton college, Curtin University TAFE Ability Center, as well as individual volunteers and work experiences to recover a vast array of people coming through,
I can imagine there would be a lot of benefit for having some of these courses for people. I mean, for me, as someone who studied at TAFE I imagined that would be incredibly helpful for people who are studying
definitely and website was one of the best ones around for many years and the TAFE always used out in some of the mapping systems that we had on there that actually covered on this one coastal plains and you can actually log on look up your actual suburb and it will list you all the plants that we recommend for your sub. So basically what you're planting and there is what's going to grow and they're not going to go and buy a nice and steaks and might die on you.
Yeah, right plant right place
that someone
that's not the first time our listeners have heard that. Okay. That's just fundamental. We should get a T shirt printed with that on it. In fact,
I think that'd be a very good one. Nice
I'd like to talk a little bit more about some of the council verge initiatives that you guys have been a part of.
Yeah, certainly, a pace has been participating in the May food initiative scheme for nearly the last 15 years. We originally started out with only four councils and the group and we've now grown to 13 councils being involved. And the group and we generally will move this year we moved up to 50,000 flats went out to those groups during COVID. So it was it was a different year, this year, it was set up basically like a click and collect but we didn't want people to miss out on it. And it actually went really well. But we're really happy with the results. And everybody was so happy under the current climate to be able to still get their plants secure on the planting.
Imagine Yeah,
no, it was really great. And as I said, 50,000 plants going out into those gardens natives it's really great to see
native plants we just can't get enough
in our heads and lately not
which councils are involved.
Can we have the local councils predominantly here and Fremantle we have as East Fremantle, Coburn malga muslin pack sibelco nedlands. Cambridge Cottesloe, Claremont and peppermint Grove are the main ones that come to our site. We do also go off site and we have ran a couple this year for the city of gosnells. And the city of Armadale, we've actually taken the plants and gone to their sites for the residence programs as well. And they're a really great day and move a lot of people through. I think the city of gosnells had two and a half 1000 people come through on the morning,
two and a half 1000 people,
yes and Armidale was better claim.
That's huge. Oh, the
line was way out the gate. Wow.
Good on him.
Again, give him COVID. It was a fabulous turnout.
And one of the positives for COVID has definitely been nature,
our most definite, we have never been so busy. It's been totally insane. And also the off shots from other groups and everything that haven't been able to keep up with their own work. So for us, it's been a really fabulous year, to be honest.
I think a lot of nursery people are sort of probably feeling the same.
I did close down the nursery to the general public and let all of our volunteers and disability sectors go I just couldn't run the risk. And we just went to skeleton staff. So running this whole the subsidy scheme, and everything through those months was definitely a very had consuming one. But we got through it and everybody was glad that was literally a fun time. Considering the time.
Yeah, what more can you ask for than that?
Can you tell us a little bit about your unique search to
suddenly on our website, a pace and wha.org.au you can actually go on to there. If you select on the nursery, go to nurseries sub selector, you can actually pick up your sub from A to Z. And under that we will be listing all the plants that we recommend for your specific areas. We also have a map type on this showing all the soil types whether they be bested in sands called as low when the lab fairly all of those type of things. So you can actually pick your suburbs that way but having the suburb selector, you can then go to our availability list as well. And then compare if that stock is currently available in the nursery as well.
That is so cool. And if any of our listeners know something in Victoria, that's the same. I really want to know about that.
It's a great tool that makes life so much easier. But we also have catalogs so we do have again if you know you saw type, you can download catalog a PDF there for Cottesloe. And that will also lists all the soil type all the plants that we recommend and give you a rundown on how to plant and so forth. And we do do a little blobs every now and then we got a blog blog up there on boots design and how to prep your verge really for design and get it already and do your own little basic foods system.
So who can volunteer at a pace?
Generally, we like to take anybody that we can that we've had from basically 14 years up to 85 years old. last few years now. He's just retired. Oh, no, sorry, he got close to 90. It was 90 and he just retired but he loved coming. He moved over here from Victoria and this was his place to come and reestablish himself doing something he loved and meet people. And so there is no age gap on anything. Or as I said before, on the disability sector as well or those that are socially challenged. We try to fit the men wherever we can. We don't have any discrimination against anybody. If we can can take you on, we'll take you on.
That's awesome. Yeah, we probably need a few more options like that out there. And I think you guys are doing some really great work. I think that's fantastic.
Thank you, we definitely trying to, as I said, every dollar we make as a part. So if people I would like to get out there to understand that if they support us $1 that they spend with us. And that helps us to put it back to support the community.
I'd like to talk a little bit about your staff now. Can you tell me what are you looking for in the ideal staff member,
the type of people that I look for in my staff are people that are passionate about the environment, they've already showing that they This is the industry that they want to be in, by going and studying getting themselves to a halt three or a CL m are both strong contenders. Most people that I have come here, they already know about a pace through the TAFE or through the unis and they know what we stand for and the type of thing that we do, that we're here for their environment, and to revegetate and to support and build the industry as well as the knowledge of people. I have a really coarse group of staff here that there are great guys and girls that work together as a team team is definitely my focus here. And nobody is any different to one another if I needed out there potting up, I'm out there putting on or doing deliveries to this not innocent them. I believe everybody's equal. And we should all make sure that we work together to make at the end of the day, the core is a pace and for our survival and to keep going to offer this to more people.
What advice do you have to others that are looking to start similar organizations in other parts of the country and maybe even all over the world?
Don't Don't try
really hard slugging. It's definitely a very, very hard slog, it's probably something that I wouldn't recommend. And that whatsoever type thing. The competition out there is very hard now, a bit as it says we've been going for 35 years, but with the private sector. And there's some very large, large players out there who don't have the corporate backing and shareholders. As a community group. It's a very, very hard slog. it's achievable and as rewarding. But it is very hard at times to basically keep going to be competitive. And that's the thing, because as I said, People still look that it's $1, that they're paying for the product, that if they get a cheaper price somewhere else, that's where they're going to go. And that but I do want people to understand that we are a community and what we make goes back into the community as well.
Even if people aren't necessarily standing up an organization exactly like yours, I think that there are a lot of really good things that people can be inspired by, and maybe even just sort of take a few ideas and add them to their own business.
Definitely like the community gardens or what they call now social farms that is proving to become very, very popular. That because also enabling groups to get together to take on volunteers for mental health challenges, everything to work together in the soil and the gardens. With that has a good sales side of things. Because there's always so many restaurants, that type of thing that's after good quality projects, which can be achieved on the right sites. And I have actually the disability sector come through looking for information on how we've designed and set up because they are looking at doing the same thing with a site for their own students and staff. Here NWA
as a consumer, I know that I'm actually often willing to pay a little bit more if there's a really sort of a powerful story behind what I'm paying for. And I think that when you're talking about providing people who may not have a whole lot of opportunities with sort of training and stuff like that, I find that a compelling story, and I am willing to pay more for vegetables for something like that.
I agree because the students and the disability sector, they love it to them. It gives them such achievement to see something growing to get their hands dirty, like some of our tools can be emptying parts, but to them, it's something that they're doing they love. I've got kids that have come from at well pass away because I finished the year twelves must all come in three years later, under a private pyrrha because they just love it so much. And they just want to keep coming and fortunately for us it means that I can offer that space for somebody else. I'm in my current financial status, but Hey, these kids love it. So that's what we're here for.
Awesome. So what's next pace,
kind of my focus is to try and upgrade our old infrastructure here. As I said, we started off as a recycling place and pretty well, therefore the place has been made up of is recycled materials. I have tried for donations and whatnot materials, financial assistance, everything that have come like hit a brick wall and there, but part of my drive still is to actually come up with a new table design, we do have a water catchment system, as always all old and I want to design a new water catchment to be more environmental research, relating reusing, so that we can get off the town supply that we're on, or at least drop it by a very high percentage, and make us more sustainable again, as well as environmentally friendlier, and reusing our water.
That sounds really exciting. I think that I would love to get you on for a whole nother episode to talk about that, because I think there's a lot of content in there.
Absolutely, it's a really good I'm currently got a prototype table being done at the moment. And I'm going to put the two of them together and see what my water system or from, as I said, unfortunately grants and available anymore. We did have a very early grant back in the 90s in the 90s to do a recirculating beads and everything but they're all now we need to use it next step and I'm, I've got a bit of a background in hydroponics, I want to bring the two of the men into a total reset plating system to bring them together.
That sounds very ambitious.
It can be achieved, I can do, unfortunately had to do start things small. And now on my budget, it'll be one house at a time. And it's I can get it all together enough to get some type of funding and backing for it.
Sounds exciting?
Absolutely. Absolutely. When you know, I'm paying a $20,000 a year water bill. So if I can have that, as well as reduce it usage by half would be amazing.
Is there anything else that you'd like to leave our listeners on Jay?
Loving to come by and see us whenever they're in North Fremantle definitely come and see us. If anybody would like to donate in any way they can do via our website, we are a Benevolent Fund, so anything over $2 is totally tax deductible, then we would appreciate any support that anybody could give us to continue this.
Thanks so much for coming on.
Thank you very much for having me, Dan. It's been great and I appreciate the chance to portray what pace does.
There's a link in the show notes if you'd like details on how to make a donation. And as Joe mentioned, anything over $2 is tax deductible. If you're in Western Australia, you can even support the organization simply by paying them a visit and telling your friends and family. Maybe you have relatives out west that you can send this podcast episode to contact Joe and the team through a contact form on their website via a link in the show notes if you'd like to volunteer or help support the community in another way

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