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Articles and stories about the RAS Foundations and its grant and scholarship recipients

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Growing a better future

11 Jan 2017

WORDS: Nicola Conville Article first appeared RAS Times November 2016 Two years ago market gardener, David Ryan, applied for funding to lead a project in his rural community. In 2015 he was awarded an RAS Foundation (RASF) Community Futures Grant and is now seeing his hard work come to fruition. The RASF Community Futures Grants encourage rural youth leadership by providing financial assistance for community projects. The program has been running for three years, and in that time, 23 grants have been awarded, with a total sum of $510,000 in funds distributed to help community projects come to life. For David, the funding and his project has improved his community. David has a passion for sustainable living, land regeneration, food production and natural building. He has been involved with the Uralla Community Garden since its inception in 2014 and saw the Grant as an opportunity to take things to the next level. “We had been seeking grants for the community garden for a while and I felt this was the perfect opportunity,” he says. “I was in the right age bracket, it was a strong, community-based project and a unique idea. I put the effort in and was thrilled when we were told our application was successful.” David’s vision was to create an environment where young and old alike could enjoy the gardens, learn about sustainable food production and alternative building practices. He proposed to build a new shed and pond, plant fruit trees and build a compressed earth brick machine. “Community cohesion was a really important outcome for the project too,” he says. The Uralla Community Garden has been flourishing thanks to the RASF Community Futures Grant. Working bees are carried out regularly to help build and nurture the space. David has built a compressor and although it is still in the prototype stage he says it has helped him and other volunteers to build up their skills, and eventually hopes it will become an asset that can be hired out, generating an income for the garden. “So far we have built a wall using the machine and now we’re doing a small shed on a property,” he says. “We’ve also been talking to Adam Blakester from Starfish Initiatives, a charity which supports rural and regional sustainability, to see if we can work together. “Personally, I’ve come from quite a troubled background and doing good in the community has been very beneficial to me,” David says. “But inspiring people from a gardening and building perspective has been a really big thing for me too. It’s the conversations I have with people when I’m working in the garden that make it all worthwhile.” In 2015 Helen DeCosta and Katie Rowe were also awarded Community Future Grants achieving excellent results for their communities. Learn more about RASF’s scholarships and grants . Read more

Community kitchen connects Narrandera

20 Dec 2016

WORDS: Alexandra Malfroy Article first appeared RAS Times November 2012 The community of Narrandera, in southern NSW, benefited from a community kitchen thanks to the initiative of resident Ashley Murphy and support of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation. In 2011, 21 year-old Ashley Murphy, a farm labourer from Narrandera, had an idea.  Greatly involved with his community in the Riverina district, he had visions of restoring their town's community kitchen to create a healthy, positive environment for the people of Narrandera. "Having grown up in the community and been involved with the local youth group for some years now, and more recently in a leadership role, I became aware of some of the needs in the community - especially for our youth and children," says Ashley. Among some of the social problems facing Narrandera are a higher than average level of single parent families, financial hardship for many in the community and a lack of basic life skills among many of the youth, which Ashley says he has seen first-hand through his youth work. "The Community Kitchen idea came about as a way to address poor nutrition and irregular meal patterns, while instilling positive family values," says Ashley. "Simple things like sharing a meal as a family, working together to prepare meals for one another and basic cooking skills are important for children and young people to learn." Narrandera's old community kitchen, housed in the town's old cinema as part of the local Christian Community Church, was out-dated and not compliant with health and safety standards. Demonstrating initiative beyond his years, Ashley applied for a Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation (RASF) Community Futures Grant. His application was successful and he was awarded $25,000 dollars to kick-start his project. Then Ashley was dealt another positive surprise. Bunnings, the supplier of the 2012 Sydney Royal Easter Show exhibition kitchen in the Woolworths Fresh Food Dome, generously offered to donate the kitchen to a rural community. There was clearly no better home for it than the Narrandera Community Kitchen project. "I was overwhelmed with Bunnings’ generous offer and the quality and size of the kitchen," says Ashley, who inspected the kitchen with his father Trevor, at the Show. The donated kitchen included all of the cabinetry; cook tops; a sink, oven and microwave; and a smaller outdoor kitchen. Shortly after the 2012 Show, the kitchen was packed and freighted to Narrandera where it has been installed. "The kitchen, with its shiny red and grey exterior, has a modern and stylish look about it," says Ashley. "It's such an improvement of what we had before; it just looks so great." With the kitchen in place, new lighting and the new floor in progress, the kitchen and hall are set to be officially opened later this year. With the RASF's $25,000 grant Ashley and his committee were able to replace the rusty roof on the hall that houses the kitchen, as well as re-line the walls and install lighting and a new floor. Despite the project idea coming from Ashley, the humble man is quick to point out it has been a team effort. He says the project has brought many people from across the community together, from the youth group, local flooring company and electrician and the entire church community. "So many people have lent a hand and hammered a few nails, painted a wall, wired in new lighting and maneuvered the new kitchen cupboards and appliances into place.  Everyone has donated their time," says Ashley. Ashley has big plans for the kitchen, including a weekly 'soup night' to provide a healthy meal for families facing financial hardship, as well as cooking classes for young people to learn basic skills. He also says the community has plans to use the new facility for other events, such as functions, dance classes and art festivals. "In a small rural community such as ours, to have programs and activities that provide safe, family-orientated activities is important," says Ashley. "I really hope some of the programs we can now run for our youth and children will develop skills so they can have a brighter future." The project has also taught Ashley new skills and increased his self-confidence. "It's a really good feeling to do something for your community that you know will benefit so many people," he says. "I encourage other young rural people to think about what they could do for their community and have a go. It's amazing what can be achieved and the difference you can make." Read more

New kitchens rule

11 Jul 2016

People in the far western NSW town of Bourke are showing off their culinary skills thanks to $20,000 worth of kitchen cabinetry and appliances from Euromaid and a $5,000 cash grant from the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation (RASF). Read more

When an arsonist took away a community's showground its people rallied. Chris Sheedy reports.

18 Feb 2016

From the ashes Read more

Foundations for the future

29 Oct 2015

WORDS: Nicola Conville (This article first appeared in the October 2015 edition of RAS Times) Founded in 2010, the Royal Agricultural Society Foundation (RASF) Rural Scholarship program has helped 230 students achieve their educational and career goals. We catch up with four past recipients to find out how the scholarship impacted their lives. Read more
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