10 July 2023

Exciting sign of the times as environment hub settles into new home(stead)

| Lucy Ridge
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Two women hold posters in front of homestead

Fiona Veikkanen (left) and staff member Zoe McMahon with CEC posters about growing food and composting. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The Canberra Environment Centre (CEC) recently moved from its long-term home at the Australian National University to new digs at Gungaderra Homestead in Franklin.

Fiona Veikkanen was recently announced as the new Executive Director of the Canberra Environment Centre. The long-term sustainability advocate and former Polo Restaurant owner says that she’s excited to develop new relationships with the people in the Gungahlin area.

“Now that we’ve settled into Gungaderra Homestead, we’re thinking about new opportunities to tap into a broader demographic of people,” Fiona told Region.

“Previously, we had a really strong focus on ANU students because of our location. But what we’d love to do here is maintain that strong student base of volunteers but also make the most of where we are now.”

people fixing bikes

The ReCyclery is accepting donations of bikes to fix. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The CEC is a not-for-profit environmental education centre that aims to empower people with the skills and resources to make lifelong sustainability choices. It runs popular bicycle repair centre The ReCyclery, which teaches people how to maintain their bikes. It also repairs, refurbishes and resells donated bikes.

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Fiona says that in addition to their existing programs, CEC members are excited to bring fresh workshops and activities to life in their new location.

“We’ve got more sustainability workshops coming up, which will include practical, hands-on opportunities to learn new skills about living a more environmentally sustainable life,” she said.

“And we really want them to be accessible, which is why we’re so pleased to be right on the tram line.”


The Canberra Environment Centre is now based in part of the Gungaderra Homestead building in Franklin. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The CEC recently received an ACT Government Community Zero Emissions Grant, which will allow the group to produce a series of free online videos to teach a range of practical skills. A previously released video has had hundreds of thousands of views, which proves there is strong demand for local, accessible resources that can help people make positive change.

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The CEC also runs a monthly repair cafe in Hughes, where volunteers help participants to repair or maintain everyday household items. While Fiona admits repair “isn’t always a sexy topic”, she says it’s a crucial part of minimising waste in landfill and helping people to live more sustainably.

“It’s about having that community come together, learn from each other and really value those acts of repair: doing the work to extend the life of items rather than throwing them in the bin.”


The ReCyclery sells high-quality refurbished bicycles. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Another new project is the Local Environment Heroes Podcast, whereby Fiona and co-host Julie Boulton interview local people working to make positive change in the environment, build communities, and help others live more sustainably.

The team is hoping to add a new shed to the Gungaderra Homestead location to expand the capacity of the ReCyclery, and is making plans for a community garden on site. Fiona says volunteers are welcome to come and visit the site.

“There are so many ways people can get involved, whether that’s attending a workshop, volunteering at the ReCyclery, learning how to fix something at a repair cafe, or engaging with some of our online resources,” Fiona said.

“We’d also love people to suggest a local environment hero that we can interview in future episodes of the podcast.”

podcast banner

The Local Environment Heroes podcast features local people working towards sustainability. Photo: Supplied.

The Canberra Environment Centre is at Gungaderra Homestead, Otway St, Harrison.

It is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 3 pm. Follow the CEC on Facebook or Instagram, or find more details about its regular workshops, its podcast, and repair cafe dates on its website.

The ReCyclery is open at Gungaderra from Tuesday to Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm, or at Hughes Community Shed, Groom St, Hughes, on Friday from 10 am to 4 pm. Find out more on the website.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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