We are thrilled to announce our Melbourne SS23 Indigenous Program recipient, Gardening On Country. Founded by Mitch Skuta, a proud descendant of the Yuin Mob, Gardening On Country creates hand tools for the garden from 100% recycled plastic. Get your first look at this debut small biz and meet the makers at the Royal Exhibition Building on October 13th-15th!
Can you share the journey of Gardening On Country so far and why it was so important to start your business?
Gardening on Country was established in February of this year. The idea was born after a family photo shoot at the beach, where I noticed the amount of waste and plastic lying around. This made me think about what I could do to help reduce waste in the environment and prevent it from ending up in landfill. I decided to research recycled plastic manufacturing online and discovered that people worldwide are using recycled plastic to create new products. This idea inspired me, and along with my wife, we came up with the concept of developing garden hand tools. As avid gardeners, we enjoy spending time outside with our son, and we wanted to create a practical and useful product that would assist in managing single-use waste.
Can you tell us about the design process?
Initially, we tested various garden tools available in the market to identify the features we liked and wanted in our own tools. We then created designs and partnered with Precious Plastic Melbourne to create our first product moulds. We source recycled HDPE plastic from Lids 4 Kids Australia, which we shred into fine particles for easy melting. Our signature green colour is achieved by mixing different coloured plastics in specific ratios. The shredded plastic is then melted in an extruder machine at a specific temperature and pushed through the machine barrel into our mould. Once the mould is filled, we remove the product and let it cool. Any remaining plastic material can be shredded and reused.
What are your hopes for the future of Gardening On Country?
Our vision for Gardening on Country’s future involves establishing a local hub for manufacturing and recycling. We aim to create jobs for First Nations people and offer educational programs to schools and communities. We aspire to promote recycling awareness, encourage sustainable practices, and grow our tool selection and colour range, including kid-sized tools. We also have some plans for garden accessories, but we don’t want to give too much away just yet!
Being your first Finders Keepers, what can market goers expect to discover at your stall?
We will be selling our flagship gardening hand tools. ‘Womby’, the hand trowel, and ‘Casso’, the hand fork. Both are in our signature turquoise colour, reflected in our logo design. We will also have a range of Native and vegetable seed packets available and seed paper gift cards.
What are you most excited about?
We are excited to introduce people to our brand, recycling plastic and the world of circular economies! Before we embarked on our journey to create Gardening on Country, we didn’t realise how large the recycled plastic and circular economy in Australia was, so we would love to share this with more people.