Friday, 14 December 2012

A forest garden

After several months of planning, with many enthusiastic people giving their time and skills, we today signed an agreement with Daylesford Secondary College (DSC) to begin work on a 5-acre food forest at the school in 2013. This will be the fifth community garden in Daylesford established within 2 years, and a significant contributer to the growing community food system we are developing locally. Part community garden, part educative resource, the DSC Food Forest will be a first of its kind in Australia. It will have an emphasis on growing ethical, local food in an ecologically restorative way and will teach students and the wider community how to climate change proof our food supply while attend to greenhouse gases by growing locally, perennially and organically.

Drawing by Patrick Jones (click for bigger)

The design group included DSC student Ruby Scott, DSC parent Alison Wilken, local permaculturalists Luke Pither, Patrick Jones, Paul Dempsey and Chris Wood, and consultation by permaculture co-originator David Holmgren and relocalisation activist Su Dennett. The generous and inspired school representatives have been teachers Liz Woodroofe, Karen Ruff, Eirinn Taylor and principal Tiffany Holt. Many others have given their time, support and knowledges to this project thus far, including the school's council, the Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre, numerous community gardeners and those who first sowed this seed.

All of us involved have thought it important to continue the great work the local primary schools have been doing to educate our kids in sustainable and ethical food production and really expand this knowledge at the secondary schooling level, where teenagers are often prey to corporate food predators.

We'll start looking for broader community support, volunteers and funding opportunities for the project in the new year. In the meantime our community can celebrate knowing that this project will begin to become a biophysical reality in 2013.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

December Bee

A scorching (35 degrees) day saw numbers down this month, with only 30 hardy peeps braving the heat. Tricia had dropped off some lovely sunflower seedlings so we popped them in new beds with a skirt of summer variety spinach seeds that she had also dropped off – thanks Tricia! We kept the work load to a minimum and took things pretty easy, erecting a new chalkboard sign,

finding a little creature who loves our lack of chemicals,

catching up with friends,

making new ones,

harvesting some produce,

cooling down,

keeping to the shade,

making compost and


Florian's seedlings were mostly too delicate to plant on Saturday in the heatwave so we had another planting bee today, which was infinitely cooler. Two boys, Zephyr and Jacob, planted several punnets at both Albert St and Rea Lands Park gardens. Tony ran over the grass paths with his mower – thanks Tony! 

Later Patrick met with Koos (local sustainability all-rounder) at the site of the fifth community food garden (more info soon) to try to work out the water problems there. Thanks Koos, it looks like quite an easy job to fix.

Thanks everyone for bearing the heat yesterday and for all the generosity given over the weekend. If you're interested in joining the water roster please email Pete.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Many hands of generosity

A few of us went out to Mt Franklin Organics today to collect seedlings to plant for tomorrow's working bee. These honest and generous hands belong to farmer Florian of Mt Franklin Organics.

Each year Florian donates dozens of vegetable seedlings and perennial food plants to Daylesford Community Food Gardeners for the various community gardens. 

Bren Eisner from Daylesford Organics has also been very generous in the past donating seedlings, seeds, organic compost and garlic bulbs.   

These local farmers are important in developing a fully relocalised food system where foraging, community gardening, street plantings, school food gardens, local organic farms, preserving, fermenting, bulk foods, food co-ops and, for the more ethically-minded omnivores among us, hunting and fishing all play a part.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

How does your garden grow?

Today a group of year 8 students from Daylesford Secondary College had an excursion to Rea Lands Park. As a DCFG rep, Patrick met the students on site and gave them a rundown of the park's history and a plant-by-plant tour of what's currently growing there and what a political act it is to take responsibility for one's own food.

It was a perfect spring day and the park was buzzing with colour,


flute playing canines,

and chubby cherubs.

From Rea Lands Park the tour continued on to the Albert Street garden

where the students tried and tasted everything in sight.

They were particularly enamoured by the chocolate mint growing in the bath at the front. It's perfect steeped in boiling water and then drunk chilled on a warm arvo.

Have you tried it yet?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Treating leaf curl organically

Leaf curl in nectarine and peach trees is caused by a fungus, Taphrina deformans, that reduces the number of leaves and fruit on trees and therefore the overall health of them. All of the peaches and nectarines in Rea Lands Park have the disease this year. A simple organic remedy at this time of year is to spray liquid seaweed (containing Ascophyllum nodosum) onto the leaves. This will either clear up the fungus completely or, at the very least, mitigate the spread of it.

Curly leaf looks much like this.

After just one season of not treating leaf curl these trees will look much worse and the effect will severely restrict the development of the plant.

Because liquid seaweed is an ideal organic plant food we sprayed the neighbouring trees too. Here are the first apricots to set in Rea Lands Park.





and quince are also all setting fruit now.

To mitigate disease and give the fruit the best possible circumstances we will continue to spray seaweed on the trees every fortnight throughout the growing season. The next challenge will be to protect the fruit from local bird populations.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

November Bee

Over fifty people turned up to this month's working bee and Harvest Swapmeet. A beautiful spring day and plenty of love...

This is what we got up to at Albert St garden:

And then a few of us took off to Rea Lands Park to spread lucerne and plant pumpkins under the fruit and nut trees: