President’s report — Spring 2018

Declaring love on waste!

Hi everyone

Hope the move from Winter towards Spring is helping you and your garden flourish.

In WA this time of year has been known as Djilba (second rains) for many tens of thousands of years.

During the ‘second rains’ many large birds are nesting with their eggs. Wattles and other flowers come into full bloom - a massive flowering explosion in the south-west. Yongas (kangaroos), waitch (emu) and koomal (possum) were popular foods during this season.

Tip: In our gardens lots of ‘plants in the wrong spot’ are also flourishing, which is a great opportunity to collect worm food.

Many people are put off by the task of weeding - if you ask them to help collect worm food, they are keen to help!

Weeds are actually a bonus in the garden :

  • the many different types have different root structures so they ‘mine’ nutrients from different depths which means they bring different nutrients to the surface in their stems, leaves and flowers. Different nutrients for the worms and microbes and other soil critters to feast on
  • pulling them out enables you to see the soil structure and the different forms of life in the soil
  • they have different forms or ‘body types’ so they are great for adding to compost and getting the mixing in the different layer
  • they provide lots of colour when they flower so make the garden look beautif
  • the flowers attract bees and other insects that play that sexy pollinating role for our plants
  • when you pull them out they leave the soil nice and friable - easy to plant into and more receptive of rain
  • they remind us off the season nature of nature, our gardens and plants.

Of course, we can also eat quite a few of them too.

See photos below of the SUN worm farm garden loaded with weeds... and the castings from a previous one, ready for planting...

Community garden survey

Now that brings me onto the survey we have been running in WA following on from the 2018 WA Community Garden Gathering.

Firstly, we were running the survey and welcomed community gardens from other parts of the country to input by Monday 8 October. There were only ten questions so its quick and easy, we should have the results compiles for the Summer edition of the ACFCGN eNews

Secondly, it aims to collect initial data to show how important our network of community gardens is in reducing waste going to landfill, plus get a couple of other things.

Thirdly, we have enough responses to give you an idea of what the ‘average’ community garden does in using waste beneficially every year:

  • Lawn clippings - more than 3 m3
  • Weeds - more than 2 m3
  • Mulch - over 15 m3
  • Food waste - over 5 m3
  • Coffee grounds - over 1 m3

To put it another way, the average community garden diverts 26 m3 of waste from landfill.

There are at least 600 community gardens in Australia so our community garden movement diverts more than 15,600 m3 of waste a year.

 To give you a picture of that number:

  • 25m wide, 25m long, 25m high - its a big pile.
  • or 125m wide, 125 m long, and 1m high - also a big pile
  • or 15.6km long and 1m high and 1m wide.
  • call it the MCG filled to a depth of 1m.

Either way, its a reasonable size hole out of landfill.

In WA, the Waste Authority estimates a levy on waste going to landfill at a bit more than $100/m3.

So the Network gardens may reduce landfill costs to local governments by about $1.56 million a year.

Now I must emphasis our data is so far from a small sample, and consists of guesstimates rather than accurate figures.

However, it is something every community gardener can feel proud of.

More than that though is the fact we create great soils from most of that volume of what our society calls ‘waste’ - soil is one of the most important things on earth! Plus we grow healthy food and distribute it equitably. And we socialise and have fun.

Happy and funtastic gardening

John

John McBain
President
Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network.

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