THE PEOPLE’S GARDEN PROJECT
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The Project Explained
The People’s Garden is a project undertaken to develop an education in permaculture for the community and create a garden area for social, ecological, environmental and food source sustainability. We want to bring together people of like minds to network in a spirit of community while creating a community asset for all people to utilise.
We want the program to benefit, the community as a whole, the environment of the region, as well as adding a food source to homes and areas of residential settlement. In addition we believe the whole program will act as an education for all ages.
The Method used to produce this result will be to conduct permaculture classes using experiential techniques in the garden under a structured four phase plan facilitated by experts and to use the existing garden area to create a finished product over a 12 month period – Summer 2018 | Winter 2018 | Autumn 2018 |
Students gather to listen to Facilitator David Lewis at Week One of the course
Students rotate working tasks as they commence the construction of the first composting beds.
How it all works
The first semester contains 7 modules and lasts over 21 sessions. Courses are held at The People Place on Thursday twilight commencing at 4.30pm and finishing at 7pm. Participants at the first two sessions enjoyed the facilitation which is conducted in the garden using practical applications of permaculture. Participants are involved in creating the garden under supervised expertise provided by the EYC Academy and EYC Labs.
Experiential learning is applied by involving students in actually doing parts of the tasks, thus helping them learn while building a garden which can be used by the community
Weeks One & Two
After just two sessions our team has already made an impact, creating the garden’s compost bins ready for mixing our ‘special brew’ Great work team – it’s all beginning and we’re pretty excited.
Weeks Three & Four
Compositing? What a complex issue. Getting the mix of Carbon & Nitrogen is vital and as we’ve now learned there’s an art to it all. The team needed as much information as possible and by experimentation and looking at results from previous weeks we’ve final started to get the right result. It’s a matter of getting the mixture right while adding plant material, saw dust, newspaper, straw and an abundance of food scraps. Along with all this we added Comfrey leaves.
Comfrey has been cultivated and valued by many cultures for almost 2500 years. Today it is still valued for its use in salves and other topical skin preparations and as a fertiliser. Adding leaves of the Comfrey plant to a compost heap gives the compost added nitrogen, resulting in increased microbial decomposition of the compost.
Comfrey (Symphytum spp.)
Week Five was all about soil and if you thought for one minute you knew something about this magic stuff you, like most of our participants soon found out how wrong we were.
Within half an hour we soon discovered that soil plays a vital role not just in growing but in our lives, affecting water, root growth and importantly impacting on our atmosphere. It became even more interesting when we ventured into our garden to commence the creation of our orchard.
Preparing the soil the boys from EYC Labs. demonstrated how to make the perfect soil composition by the addition of minerals, clay and a myriad of natural materials. This perfect mix allows for the correct drainage and soil types which assist in healthy plant growth.
The enthusiastic crew started the arduous process of digging and separating as the orchard’s soil not only changed composition in looks, but appeared to offer an easy root transition for the development of our new trees.
Weeks Six & Seven
Fruit trees and worm farms? Oh yes we all became pretty excited when they said fruit trees because we knew it was time to plant the orchard. We’ve been busily preparing compost, treating the soil and getting the right balance.
Now it was time for the tree’s and we could start to see thing growing. It was all hands on deck and we’ve got some very willing workers. Peaches, plums pears in fact a little of everything built on permaculture principles to produce a lot. All on dwarf root stock they’ll help educate, feed and create a circular system, which feeds the earth and helps add give us humans the nutrition we need.
Week seven saw us creating a worm farm and we soon learned the value of worms and benefits they bring. An old bathtub with a strong wooden frame acted as a home but the most interesting thing of all was the care and attention our ‘red wrigglers’ require to ensure the reproduce and keeping giving us the worm juice and casting to keep the soil alive and well.
Week Eight & Nine
We’ve really moved ahead in weeks eight and nine. We’ve put the finishing touches to the orchard with the planting of citrus and a peach tree which is dedicated to Dawn Robinson who passed away some nine months ago and because other members of our permaculture family have a desire to plant trees in memory of loved ones passed, we’ve decided to erect a special memorial placard to honour those who have dedicated trees in memoriam.
Beside finishing the orchard, we began our chicken coupe construction and boy have we created a mansion for three beautiful chickens. Everyone helped and while the boys sorted out the construction the ladies cultivated and painted to ensure we are maintaining our compost heaps, our worm farm and getting the best out of the orchard’s soil.
Time Line Progression
Week Ten saw the completion of module two and so far we’ve created a brilliant compost heap which is starting to supply us with the most delicious composting material, we’ve planted out our orchard area, but not before we’ve reinvigorated the soil. We’ve created a large worm farm, built and stocked the ‘Boulevard Hotel for Chickens’ and created an espalier rack for our citrus fruit. So now were really into the swing and with new sponsor ‘Puma Energy’ on board we can make headway with our material purchases.
Week eleven was dedicated to the creation of the hugelkultur mound. It’s a german word and it’s the process of making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the roots of what you plant, etc. As the years pass, the deep soil of the raised garden bed becomes incredibly rich and loaded with soil life. As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets – so the hugelkultur becomes sort of self tilling. The first few years, the composting process will slightly warm the soil giving a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water – and then re-feeding that to the garden plants later. Plus, by holding so much water, hugelkultur could be part of a system for growing garden crops in the desert with no irrigation.
The crew digs the hugelkultur mound. It’s hard work digging but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating when we’ve planted sweet potato and leeks
With the hugelkultur mound construction completed, three important tasks remain before we turn our hand to the wicker bed construction. Our first task was to construct the medicinal beds using sleepers to build our boundaries followed by rejuvenating the soil in the bed to ensure maximum growth potential. While all this was happening some of the crew planted out the hugelkultur mound with sweet potato, leeks and the appropriate companion plantings to ensure our bed is as bug friendly as we can make it. Concurrently one of our crew’s youngsters was cleaning out the chicken mansion and refurbishing the ground with fresh straw. What a great little worker she turned out to be and when she was finished the crew help to wheelbarrow the old straw to the compost heap. Nothing is wasted in the world of permaculture.
Thirteen may be unlucky for some but this week’s segment was a beauty. Rod from Geographe Community Landcare Nursery was a guest speaker and what he doesn’t know about our local plants is not worth knowing. After introductions, Rob showed us a variety of local plants, which are significant in their use by our Aboriginal friends. We acknowledged the local owners of the land and Rod laid out our Traditional Use Garden area and as he did so explained all the facets and uses for these wonderful native plantings. Some of these included The Blueberry Lily (Dianella brevicaulis) as an edible fruit. Flavourings such as the Coastal Daisy Bush (Olearia axillaris) and the WA Peppermint (Agonis flexuosa). Edible seeds such as the Dune Moss (Acacia lasiocarpa). The whole night was pretty much summed up by planting up the bed and returning to a warm room to enjoy a meal of curry kindly provided by Lyndsay from EYC Labs. Perhaps Julie Howes summed it up best the next morning when she wrote on the group facebook page:
“What an amazing night! Just love Thursday evenings. Learning, planting, learning, eating, learning, friendship, swapping, sharing, good times! :-)”