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PacificEdge | March 27, 2017

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A new food growing adventure begins

A new food growing adventure begins
Russ Grayson

PLANTING, seed propagation, watering… it was busy at the PIG (Permaculture Interpretive Garden) and the Randwick Community Centre this mid-Spring afternoon, with a permabee, a bicycle maintenance workshop and the first day of the Organic Gardening course.

The permabee is a regular monthly happening where people who want to engage in a little learning-by-doing, or who just like to garden, come together under the guidance of horticulturist and permaculture gardener, Emma Daniel, who also happens to be a leading light at Randwick Community Organic Garden. With the coming of longer periods of daylight, late Wednesday afternoons, monthly, are to be added to the existing Saturday monthly permabees.

The permabees are informal affairs with people gardening, planting, mulching and socialising as they engage in pleasurable, health-promoting work that enacts the permaculture design systems first two ethics of caring for the Earth and caring for the people who inhabit it.

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GROWING WHAT YOU EAT

It’s quite a mixed crowd that has enrolled in the current Organic Gardening course. There’s aspiring food foresters, Michelle and Kim, who did the Forest Gardening course earlier this year and who have enrolled to learn more about growing some of the food they eat. The rest of the participants are new to the educational services offered by Randwick City Council’s sustainability unit and all went away clutching pots containing the seeds they planted during the plant propagation session.

As well as how to produce their own vegetables by growing from seed — course participants learned how to make a propagation mix of sand and coconut fibre — they were introduced to making their own site analysis to discover how sunlight and shade moves over their gardens and how the winds affect them. Fiona Campbell, the educator for this course, introduced the design process and left them with homework to observe the characteristics of their own gardens and to report back on that next week.

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The Organic Gardening course has been a regular offering for the past nine years at Randwick Council and for the decade previous to that through PacificEdge, Fiona and the author’s personal minibusiness. The durability of the course attests to how popular it is and to the desire to learn how to grow food, something that has only increased in recent years as public awareness of the food supply chain and challenges facing it have increased.

So, we’re off on another adventure in food growing for the next six weeks of this seven week course. By the time it ends, the participants will have enough knowledge to competently start their own home garden and be on their way to a tasty, nutritious future — the DIY way.

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