Native plants healing country, healing community in the Central Desert.

Unless you’ve been to the Central Desert it’s hard to believe how lush and diverse the country is. The regions of biodiversity and soil types range from sandy to stony soils with grasslands, herbs, shrubs and river gums. In Mparntwe (Alice Springs), a small community initiative that started during the COVID-19 pandemic is now a business for the propagation and sale of native plants for the region. Centralian Seedlings has already made significant changes in bringing back animal species and habitats through an industrial site in town and the settler-modified suburbs on Arrernte Country.

Jorgen Doyle has propagated seedlings for purchase and provides an online resource for community members to learn about the plants for arid and semi-arid environments on country. Not only has Jorgen and his landlords rehabilitated the industrial site where Jorgen lives, but he has also created beautiful community spaces accessed by passersby bringing native birds and other animal life back into the area. His appreciation for the simplicity of having birds and desert lizards and small goannas move back in to live around the plants gives him something to talk about to his family on the phone and contributes to healing Country and community. This contribution also branches out to First Nations and other community members who feel good seeing some of the bush foods they recognise and being able to enjoy some of the gardens he’s created around town.

Snake Vine-Tinospora Smilacina

“I think it’s good for people to feel like where they live is not separate and abstract from the surrounding natural environment.”

Jorgen Doyle Centralian Seedlings

Jorgen writes on his website how future climate changes will impact the life of exotics due to how much water will be available and native plants will not only be easier to keep alive, but they can contribute to the decline of invasive species like the Olive Pine and Buffel Grass that are creating fire risks and loss of habitat.

To collect the seeds, you need to apply for permits and Jorgen Doyle works in partnership with the Central Land Council, Bon Bon Station Reserve and Northern and Southern Indigenous Protected Areas through the Northern Territory and South Australian governments to be able to collect and propagate the seeds for commercial use.

The Olive Pink Botanic Garden and Alice Springs Desert Park are two public spaces where you can see the extent of plant diversity and learn how to identify them for the Alice Springs and Central Desert region.

Jorgen isn’t working alone in the community to create environmental restoration, Jerome Davy is an Anmatjere and Alyawarre native plant expert and horticulturalist and runs a business in Alice Springs, holding tenure at Olive Pink for four years working with the plants and restoring the cultural landscape. More people in the community are encouraged to plant their gardens and verges with local plants and learn about water usage. Jorgen Doyle says “I think it’s good for people to feel like where they live is not separate and abstract from the surrounding natural environment.”