Lucas Park Meeting

Andrea and her crew hosted the August Lawn to Lunch meeting in Lucas park. This is going to be the location of Rockhampton's newest community garden and they couldn't have picked a better spot. Lucas Park is just off Musgrave st right in the middle of one of Rocky's busiest thoroughfares and is easily reached by public transport or bike to a large number of Rockhampton's residents.

The first thing you think when you look at the park from a permacultural perspective is just how perfect  a blank garden canvas it is for designing with. The park is a long rectangle running almost perfectly east-west with a bright northern exposure. Almost all of the trees are on the southern side leaving a large sunny area for raised beds.

Andrea's talk was enough to get anyone inspired about the community gardens movement and she communicated her vision of growing beyond just a park garden and starting to encompass entire streets as has been done in a lot of capital cities around the world. Growing food at a community level not only brings people closer to their food supply but also provides food for local community organization's and people struggling with costs in a economically difficult time. 

This is definitely a project that we will be continuing to follow and work with and some of our Rockhampton members have joined up to the project and hope to take part in it's establishment.

The picture on the left is the electric bike that Gwen came to the meeting on. These are becoming really popular and I hope we are going to be seeing more bikes and electrics taking over from cars for small trips around town.

Greg Rutter

Spring is here!

The maremma sheepdog has started panting which means that winter has ended and spring has arrived, all of the trees seem to be in agreement, now there is no way to escape the inevitable and desperately necessary spring cleaning that needs to be done.

GEDC0066I think that the chook pen is going to be my new favourite place to visit when the heat of summer comes around. The forage trees have burst into life and come out in their spring greens.  The original plan was to put all of the messy trees within the confines of the chicken run so that the chooks could clean up the fruit fall and and have something to do before they get let out into the rest of the yard in the afternoon.

The thick plantings have delivered a lot of additional benefits with the protection that they offer newly hatched chicks from the constant patrol of hawks above our yard. The temperature in the chook run is also pleasantly cooler then the open areas of the yard.

Although we are getting lots of bananas I still think that the biggest success of the run is the cluster planting of mulberry trees. I really wasn’t sure how this would work when I planted 5 mulberry trees in a 4 square meter area but so far it is successful. I had read that mulberry trees are often selected as a hedge plant on farms so it seemed like a good choice for close plantings.

The spindly branches wind together creating a sort of  super mulberry tree that is producing a tremendous amount of fruit even though they are only a couple of years old. The main problem that I have is beating the birds to the fruit as I am not the only one who finds them a delicacy.

Last years bird netting has been grown through so at the moment I am letting the birds have what is above the netting and I get to pick everything below the netting.

The last of the winter tomato vines were starting to look a little sorry for them selves so I picked what was left of the fruit and cleaned the bathtub out to take some golden corn and green bean seedlings.

One bathtub has been providing me with good number of tomatoes throughout winter and the variety ‘Yellow Perfection’ turned out to be a very pleasant snacking fruit with a sweet taste that has none of the acidic bite that you get in most varieties.

Tomato 'Yellow Perfection'

The only tomatoes that I have had success with before where the ‘Tommy Toe’ varieties as the fruit fly's were decimating everything else. I am still to find out whether the success that I had with this crop were just because they were planted in winter or whether the heavy fruit fly trapping program that I have started is beginning to have an affect.

The Jaboticaba hedge has really taken off and is due for a good pruning. Spanning about 15 meters the hedge was planted to block of the view of the aquaponics water tanks that sit behind it. I decided to use Jaboticaba as it not only made an attractive hedging plant but is also an abundant producer of fruit that can be used for making your own wines and ports. It has been in for 3 years now and is doing very well but is a long way of fruiting yet.
GEDC0080When I first looked into the Jaboticaba I read that it can take up to 11 years for the plant to start fruiting. This was something that I was prepared to accept but I later found out that the fruiting times can be much shorter.

I saw an article that Rich from Happy Earth wrote about their Jaboticaba which was already fruiting after a few years, I wrote to him and asked about this and was told that if you give them deep rich soil and lots of water then they start producing a lot earlier.

This is good news to me as I planted mine in a deep trench of cow manure and they get the excess run off from the AP system which is rich in fish waste. Hopefully this means that we can look forward to some Jaboticaba Port in a few years.
Here is attempt two at getting some peaches before the fruit fly do. Last year I was really surprised that my 2 year old low chill peach tree had already exploded in fruit. It was so heavy that I was picking off some of the fruit and disposing of it so that the young branches didn’t snap.

Unfortunately all of the mature fruit was destroyed by a fruit fly infestation and had to be thrown away. This year I stated trapping in winter to try and get ahead of the problem and used some bottle traps with ‘Wild May’ lure in them. This only attracts the male fruit fly but makes itGEDC0074 harder for the females to find a mate. I also juiced a bucket of excess lemons and added yeast, sugar and cloudy ammonia to the juice to see if that would catch the females.

The first few lots of mixture had a large number of fruit fly in them and the catch is getting less and less with each refill so either the word is getting out that you should stay away from the bottles or it is starting to have an affect.


Greg Rutter

August L2L Meeting

The next L2L meeting is being organised by Andrea and will be held at Lucas Park on Armstrong St  in North Rockhampton at 10 am on Sunday the 19th of August.

Andrea and her band of dedicated volunteers have commenced negotiations with Council for the establishment of a community garden at the Lucas Park site and looks like they have secured some initial funding they weren’t expecting, from both Council and local businesses.

Everyone is invited, please bring a hat, chair and cup; anyone who has any excess produce that they wish to give away is also invited to bring it along!
See you all on Sunday!

Greg Rutter

Community Gardening

Community Gardening is a growing revolution across the world. Every time I turn on the radio, I hear something about people reconnecting with and taking responsibility for their sustenance and food choices, and community gardens are often at the center of this movement, along with permaculture, organics and, dare I say it, the Transition Movement. 

We have a solid history of community gardening in Australian with amazing places like CERES in Melbourne and Northey Street a bit closer to home in Brisbane.

Changing climate, increased uncertainty about what is in our food and where it is coming from and the ever increasing health issues we see around us every day are driving forces behind this change. There are many other reasons to turn to local food supply (and what is more local than a community garden you can walk to – except your back yard, which is the next part of the equation).

Rockhampton region already has a number of community gardens, based on a variety of models and experiencing a variety of success. We plan to add to this number through the establishment of a garden at Lucas Park, in Armstrong Street, North Rockhampton. 

But more than that, we have a vision for a community garden network that promotes and supports community gardens across the region, with hub gardens and smaller satellite gardens, right down to gardens on traffic islands and road verges (Costa’s new favourite!), and maybe some guerrilla gardening, but we’ll keep that under our hats for now.

We see these gardens as places where people can meet to –
  • Grow food
  • Share resources
  • Share knowledge
  • Learn
  • Connect
Some of the fundamental principles of community gardens are –

Local – Lolo Houbein (author of One Magic Square) believes community gardens should only serve a catchment of 1km(square). They should be in easy walking distance of their catchment area so that people don’t have to drive to them. Which means there needs to be lots of them! (Lolo also wants to see every one of Australia’s 5 million backyards growing at least some of their own food – but that is another story for another day…)

Organic – this is a must. For nutrition and health, but also for environmental reason including reduced greenhouse emissions and reduced use of non-renewable resources that most non-organic farming relies on. 

Sustainable – reducing the use of new inputs, ensuring that the garden in managed in a sustainable way from a social, financial and environmental perspective. This needs to be an holistic approach.

Permaculture principles are a natural fit for achieving goals around sustainability and organic garden by providing a framework that makes the most of the resources available. 

Community Driven – these gardens must be driven by the local community to guarantee their ongoing support and development

Connecting –community gardens provide a place for people to connect with their community, as individuals and groups. Groups such as Lawn to Lunch are an important aspect of this.

I have been receiving emails from Lawn to Lunch for a couple of years, but I am yet to make it to a meeting. I have, however, already met several amazing people connected to the group and we would love to draw on the collective knowledge, ideas and advice you might be able to provide to us in the establishment and operation of our garden in Armstrong Street. 

We have a working group of four dedicated people, and have mapped out a bit of a path forward but would love your advice and ideas in relation to the site so that we can make the most of both the physical establishment of the garden and the process itself, and hopefully make a solid connection that will benefit both groups for years to come.

Andrea M

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