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A Yass woman with a passion for promoting native foods has vowed to use her TAFE NSW qualifications to open an edible plant nursery in future.
Proud Arrernte woman Tilly Townsend, 22, has had a close affiliation with TAFE NSW Yass in her young life, completing a Certificate III in Horticulture, a Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management and a Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways.
But it is her connection with the land where she wants to forge a career, educating Australians about the sustainability – and taste – of using native plants for food.
“I want the public to have a better understanding of the issue because Australia is getting dryer and hotter, and these plants will thrive with much less water than others,” Ms Townsend said.
“A lot of native plants, such as bush tomatoes, are quite trendy right now as superfoods but they’re not seen by the majority of the population as a genuine food source.
“My dream is to open a nursery in future and specialise in these kinds of plants.”
Ms Townsend said she was passionate about “cultural and global sustainability”, warning her home town of Yass could irrevocably change as climate change worsens.
“In the next 50 years, Yass and surrounds will look more like Dubbo at the rate we are going,” Ms Townsend said.
She said her experience at TAFE NSW was “exceptional”, praising the knowledge and personal touch of teachers.
“They had all the time in the world to answer my questions or explain something better,” she said. “There are so many helpful resources available and it was an exceptional experience.”
TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Agribusiness Rob Fenton said conservation and land management was a growing field of employment.
“Many graduates find work with Landcare projects or use their qualification as a pathway to working with organisations like the National Parks and Wildlife Service,” Mr Fenton said.
“Tilly is passionate about sustainability and she makes a good point: there’s hardly anything on the supermarket shelves that is natural to Australia.
“Thousands of native plants were the staple of our Indigenous people until European-style food took over.”
To find out more about studying at TAFE NSW Yass, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist