Maria's Farm: A ray of hope?

Two years ago Penola House was visited by a Dutch industrialist, Cor Disselkoen, and his local assistant, Karin Nijboer-Boon, who explained that they planned to spend some $65million on “Maria’s Farm”, a 16 hectare glasshouse and packing facility on Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown for hydroponic growing of tomatoes and cucumbers.

They told us the building would soon begin, but due to endless 'red tape', the project has been delayed until now.

They were keen for migrants and refugees to be invited to apply to work there, because in Europe this work was particularly suited to their work ethic and skill levels.

They wanted to give work to at least 150 people. The work in the first year would be casual, but once all was underway, it would become full-time and permanent.

They were not, however, going to reject anyone who was keen to do a good day's work for a good day's pay. They planned to have a fleet of buses to bring the workers to Williamtown, rather than spend money on a huge parking lot.

To make a start, on Monday, 5 January 2015, we travelled to the site of the project at Williamtown and prayed for God's blessings on this work and on the people whose lives it will touch. Thanks to Mercy Community Services, two mini-buses, along with our own 8 seater people-mover and numerous cars, left Penola House at Mayfield West to give a lift to everyone who wanted to participate.

The ceremony began with prayer, turning the sod, exchange of tomato seeds and watering the earth and concluded with a cool drink and fruit. We welcomed the involvement of the Muslim, Buddhist and Christian religious communities for whom this is an important development.

The bulldozers begin their work, we believe, very soon. 

To learn more, P Sr Diana, 043 110 5383.

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