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Gardener taking on Australia-first pollinator program wins award

Gardener taking on Australia-first pollinator program wins award
Brendan Rees

A passionate South Melbourne resident who is leading a charge to create an Australian-first wildlife corridor joining the Royal Botanic Gardens to Westgate Park in Port Melbourne has won a prestigious award.

Nature enthusiast Emma Cutting is behind the eight-kilometre community-driven Melbourne Pollinator Corridor (MPC) that aims to pollinate insects while transforming “barren, under-utilised pieces of public land and public private land” into vibrant green spaces by using a variety of native plants.

“The MPC is about strengthening and deepening connections within and between communities of humans, plants and critters,” Ms Cutting said, who also founded a local community greening initiative called the Heart Gardening Project.

 

Through caring for our public land and putting nature first, we are creating systemic change in public realm around how these spaces are used, designed and maintained.

 

For her efforts in spearheading the program, Ms Cutting was awarded a Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowship, which supports the development of breakthrough solutions to Australia’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.

Upon hearing the news of the award, in which each recipient receives $140,000 as part of their 12-month fellowship, Ms Cutting said it was “immense relief!”

“We now have this golden opportunity to really gather momentum – we can continue setting up The Heart Gardening Project to be a sustainable charity and continue developing the Melbourne Pollinator Corridor including expanding our awesome volunteer group and creating more gardens.”

With the help of volunteers, Ms Cutting said one of their main objectives for the pollinator corridor was to help remind people “that when we care for and connect to nature we are, at the same time, caring for and connecting to ourselves”.

She said they were aiming to plant 200 indigenous-focussed gardens with 20 being created so far and “10 more on the go,” that would cover a space equivalent to more than six tennis courts.

She said another goal was to create 200 gardens in the next two years.

Asked what had inspired her, Ms Cutting said there was plenty including “how isolated Westgate Park is” and “how there were some small existing green patches that were good for native pollinating insects, but they were disconnected”.

Ms Cutting said locals keen to create their own MPC garden could apply for one of 40 corridor kits worth about $600 each, which are being given away.

Kits include a voucher for 50 indigenous plants, a $50 voucher for a local nursery, a a Melbourne Pollinator Corridor book by Ms Cutting, and “lots of tools” thanks to charity Plantfulness and more.

Eligible applicants need to live in the Melbourne Pollinator Corridor zone, and have an appropriate site with some sun, which can be private land but needs to be visible from the footpath. The garden needs to be completed by the end of this year and then maintained. Applications close end of August. To apply, visit:

theheartgardeningproject.org.au/mpc-locals-program

 

Caption: Emma Cutting is behind an eight-kilometre community-driven Melbourne Pollinator Corridor to green “barren” spaces.

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