Kerri-Anne Currie and Nathan Nehow from Australian Indigenous Grasstrees and Wildflowers (AIGW) want to get mob back out in the bush to strengthen community and connection to Country.

A one-stop-shop for Mackay’s flower needs, AIGW services the local community with a selection of flowers and arrangements for all kinds of events, including bridal bouquets, anniversary arrangements and gift boxes.

With a keen focus on the conservation of native plants, AIGW is more than a florist. They partner with local Traditional Owners to ensure the proper treatment of Country and flora continues to thrive.

Co-owner of AIGW, Currie said working in the bush for a larger company for the last 15 years has taught the AIGW team what they need to prepare their business model.

“We’re working less with the cultivation side of things now, we focus on the conservation of native plants within Australia,” she said.

“We work with Traditional Owners on their Country. If we harvest on their Country a percentage of the money goes back to the community.”

Currie said through servicing and creating arrangements for local Indigenous community funerals, a deeper sense of community care has come about.

“We service a lot of local funerals. While our people are grieving, our cultures are very different and it’s something that needs to be explained, often people will ask for me to be their support person during these times,” she said.

“I enjoy taking on that role. Before I got into conservation, I was an aged care worker and I enjoy being that support person.”

At the centre of AIGW is ensuring Country and flora are treated with care and respect. Photo supplied.

The AIGW team have their sights set on building a community hub that will encourage mob to get back on Country and strengthen their sense of identity.

“We’re looking to bring more work for the local Indigenous community to work on Country, which is needed” Currie said.

“We’re hoping to involve the Elders and those struggling with addiction, mental health issues and lack of work.

“We’d love to have a rangers program in Mackay, and we’re starting to look into training up our team in Indigenous land management to encourage the local people to want to upskill.”

Currie and Nehow hope to build a community hub to upskill mob and take them out on Country. Photo supplied.

Currie added she has battled with her own mental health and getting back on Country to work and heal was an important part of her recovery.

“I see people in our community needing help, going through depression and I want them to be able to come out bush with me and experience what I did,” she said.

“We want to be able to offer people an opportunity to get away from town, getting back to their Elders to talk.”

Currie said that the AIGW team want to achieve the plans they’ve set in motion, and although the last few years have been tough on them, they can see an opportunity to expand the business with the right support.

“While we’re in this planning phase we’re working on the conservation side of the business, focusing on education through our business and our landscaping team,” she said.

“It’s taken time to build trust with community and Traditional Owners and to find the right jobs and backing.

“Hopefully in three years, we’re harvesting plants we’ve invested in and closer to building a space for the local community to focus on strengthening their connection to Country.”

By Darby Ingram