Capacity building: From small things, big things grow

Two small green seedlings in soil

“There are real jobs out there in this sector,” Brendan Kelly tells us as we tour around the Leschenault Community Nursery (LCN). “It’s just a question of matching the right person to the right job and ensuring they have appropriate supports in place,” he continues.

We are visiting the LCN on a seriously sunny morning because Forrest Personnel has formed an alliance with the nursery and is currently supporting six people who are busy building their capacity and advancing their horticulture skills and knowledge.

About the nursery

The LCN is a social enterprise that grew from a purely volunteer organisation to one with paid professionally-trained staff that offers community programs and services. Brendan is the Chairman, and the enterprise is managed by Jacquie Rusha, who was busy multi-tasking on the morning of our visit.

Wooden sign with carved lettering painted white saying Leschenault Community Nursery. Trees are in the background

Leschenault Community Nursery entrance sign

Brendan describes how the nursery has two revenue-generating components referred to as retail and reveg. Retail is about selling primarily to individuals in the community who visit the nursery to purchase what’s on the ‘shelves.’ Reveg is a larger scale operation aimed at sectors including mining, farming and local government authorities. This component would usually involve organisations placing custom orders for plants. The LCN has over 300 varieties of native species on offer!

Brendan tells us they have a wide variety of people involved with the nursery including staff, volunteers, and others who are contributing thanks to funding secured by the nursery.

Being a social enterprise, the nursery has a clear focus on access and inclusion. That’s what makes a partnership with Forrest Personnel such a good fit.

Two people are sitting on a park bench

Jacquie Rusha, Manager, and Brendan Kelly, Chairman, sitting outside the office of the Leschenault Community Nursery

Building capacity

Forrest Personnel is supporting six people who are working at this nursery. We initially organised for them to enrol and complete a TAFE course – Introduction to Production Horticulture Skill Set. They later began six-month employment stints at the nursery which are funded by a grant from the WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

Individuals work varying days and hours between Monday and Thursday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. Brendan raises the interesting points that: “While many of the jobs are solitary in nature, they afford an ideal opportunity for people to interact thereby building social skills. The work is varied, the species are hardy and many of the jobs take place in the invigorating outdoors.” There is definitely much appeal to a job at the LCN.

Blue sky ahead

Our visit demonstrates that from small things, big things grow. From TAFE courses, to six-month capacity-building employment stints, to more formal horticulture jobs in the wider community.

As we head out the nursery gates, Brendan enthuses that: “There’s lots of blue sky ahead of us. There are real jobs available in our industry.”

Highway sign that says Leschenault Community Nursery, WA native plants with a directional arrow

Plenty of blue sky ahead

Feature photo: Seedlings at the LCN, by Forrest Personnel. Image editing by oxy images

Forrest Personnel is a local charity. We specialise in supporting people with health conditions, injuries and disabilities to find and keep jobs.

Let’s make it work together | 1800 224 548