Aftrekte Australia Day Flier

Afrekete Australia Day Festival

Afrekete Australia Day Festival

A Very Special, Multi-Day Event hosted in the Southern Beaches Community Garden

Two days of music and dance from across Australia, the Torres Strait Islands and Cuba…

Market Stalls, a licensed bar, free children’s workshops and delicious food.

There’s something for everyone.

Please click this link or the link below to make your bookings

 

We hope to see you in the garden!

 

Aftrekte Australia Day Flier

Bookings Essential

Afrekete Program
The Day’s Agenda

 

30 January Afrekete Festivities
On Sunday 30 January the Fun Continues

 

30 January Afrekete Festivities
Grand Finale
Garden Christmas Party bbq

2021 Garden Christmas Party BBQ

Garden Christmas Party bbq
Mary and Company on the grill

The 2021 Garden Christmas Party BBQ was held in the garden on Friday 10 December. What follows is the contents of the email sent out by SBCG Membership Secretary Deb Powers (with just a bit of extra added for clarification purposes by yours truly).  So, if you couldn’t make it this year, keep in mind the Australia Day Afrekete Festival will be happening later next month in the garden.

You definitely won’t want to miss all the dancing, food and libations and overall festive atmosphere of that one.

So, see you in the garden and here’s to a bigger and better 2022.

Now, About that Party

garden christmas party bbq
Yummy food, big smiles

WOW😊

What a wonderful SBCG Christmas party we had. In all, the total numbers would be in the neighbourhood of around 50 members and their families.

garden christmas party bbq
Picture Perfect Smiles

The weather was perfect with temps in the mid to upper 20s and no humidity to speak of. Even the mozzies behaved for the night.

Everywhere I looked, people were smiling, laughing and eating. And after so much rain, all amidst some incredibly healthy and vibrant-looking garden plots. Such an amazing setting to have and share with the community.

Thank you everyone for your share plates. The range of food was just so good and eclectic. Everything from snags and

garden christmas party bbq
An actual photo of Tony NOT working.

chicken to Annie’s ‘rice sausages’ and authentic Thai Green Payaya Salad. Between that and the many chips and dips, cheeses and numerous delicious desserts, everyone was spoiled for choice.

Thanks to Mary and Natalia for cooking the sausages, chicken and onions. In the end, it almost goes without saying, there was nothing left.

Thanks to Jim for the Christmas tablecloths and the decorations. They looked great and added to the festive cheer.

garden christmas party bbq
Di, holding forth

Thank you to everyone who joined the party. It was lots of fun. 

To our members, prospective members, your families and friends – we wish you all a very joyous Christmas and a safe new year.

 We have some great events coming up in 2022 and we look forward to seeing you at them.

Best Wishes,
Your SBCG Committee

 

Thank You Sign

A Heartfelt Thank You from C & K Coolangatta

As if the children’s smiling faces weren’t enough, this heartfelt thank you from C & K Coolangatta Community Kindergarten is the icing on the cake.

Thank You Sign
A Note from the Heart

Dearest Di,

We just wanted to give you an update and say thank you for coming to our kindy and fixing up our little garden.
 
It brings us so much joy to see how much our garden grows from week to week. It literally doubles in size each time we see it anew and fills us all with excitement and joy to find what developments have been happening since we last saw it.
 
The children created their own signs for the flowers and vegetables and they also made a combined effort beautiful big 💐thank you 💐 for all that you did for us.
 
C & K Coolangatta
Fun in the garden

Special thanks to Di, Archie and Judy who came to our centre on the day and to SBCG for the generosity of time, labour, supplies and kindness🙏

 
I’ll attach a couple of photos for you and we would welcome a visit from any of you at the end of the week group B if you wanted to drop in and see how our magical garden grows.
 
Thanking you again
All of us at C & K Coolangatta 
Garden Happy Faces

Happy Faces in the Garden

Of all the happy faces in the garden, theirs are always the happiest.

Happy Faces Team Lemonade
The Happy Faces of Team Lemonade

Wearing black t-shirts and infectious smiles you’ll find them. Getting tucked into any task that needs attending. No job is too big or too trivial for this crew.

They are Team Lemonade, a disability service organisation serving the southern Gold Coast and The Tweed.

Ask them and they’ll tell you, they’re just happy to be there. In the company of their fellow team members, lending a hand and contributing in any way possible.

In April of 2020, the group was started by Elaine Johnston, a mother who wanted more for her oldest son, 31-year-old Nathan, who has Downs Syndrome and autism.

Elaine Johnston
Team Lemonade Director, Elaine Johnston

“A lot of people let my son get away with a lot when he was young. ‘That’s alright, he’s got a disability.’ Actually, it’s not alright. I’ve taught him right from wrong and you’re allowing him to do what he likes because you feel empathetic for him…We (at Team Lemonade) empower, not enable, that’s a huge thing we do,” says Johnston.

Starting with only her son and two other students just over 18 months ago, today Team Lemonade is comprised of 11 staff and 35 team members. Members that range in ages from 19-39.

They are based out of present-day Kirra Cultural Centre atop Kirra Hill where many of the team members went to school as young children. Johnston says doing so has helped to create a sense of familiarity and belonging which the team members find very appealing.

Team Lemonade Staff
L to R Janelle, Ben, Kerry

And while many of the classroom programs revolve around literacy, numeracy, and general life skills, a large percentage of Team Lemonade’s educational opportunities are undertaken outside, in and around the community. These events involve work experience outings, health and fitness instruction at local gyms and volunteer opportunities; one of which is visits to the Southern Beaches Community Garden.

Everything is done based on a lesson Johnston learned almost fifteen years ago from three Aboriginal elders while working as a special needs teacher. It revolved around the Indigenous belief that hierarchy should not be triangular but, rather, circular.

Feeding a worm farm
Andrew feeding the worms

This circular perspective renders the place of actual teaching irrelevant. And, in the end, teaching moments abound. More often than not, when least expected; which is how a wrong turn in her car helped the Team Lemonade director stumble onto the SBCG.

“They learn what they need to learn. We benefit from their knowledge and everyone just learns from each other. All with no (traditional) hierarchy, it just doesn’t work,” says Johnston.

And the director of Team Lemonade is not alone in this belief. Janelle Staggard, who worked with her current boss at the Coolangatta Special School almost 16 years ago and has known many of the Team Lemonade members for 20 years, agrees wholeheartedly.

“I think we’re setting them up to, actually, fail at school,” Staggard says of the current special needs school programs. “What we’re doing is trying to provide a mainstream curriculum to guys that don’t fit into the box.”

And, according to Staggard, the SBCG grounds are a perfect out-of-the-box experience. Perfect from a holistic perspective in that it provides a real grounding opportunity to members that too often find themselves amidst a world of sensory overload.

watering compost bin
Joel watering the compost bins

She adds the garden requires members to get outside, explore and be hands-on. All in the pursuit of learning what can and cannot be grown, built, or improved upon. And better still, all while finding their own path towards becoming contributing members of society.

On this day the members engaged in this ongoing process of discovery include Andrew (29), Tim (34), David (31), Mitch (33), Joel (27) and Nathan (31).

Pruning tools, garden hoses, and a pitchfork for compost turning are the tools of the trade for the day’s excursion. One that also involves a quick lesson in worm composting. With minimal instruction from the three Team Lemonade staff members (done in a ratio of 3:1), the team members divide and conquer.

Except for Mitch, who is new to the program, the others are familiar with the routine and dive right in with the first-timer Mitch, quick to follow suit. Each member has their own section of garden to tend to and with water nozzles set to a light drenching mist, they tackle their assigned plots with gusto.

watering the garden
Nathan giving the plants a drink

A gusto including plenty of friendly banter and laughs. Along with the occasional mischievous blast of water directed at their nearest team member. All of which serves as a not-so-subtle reminder: these disabled garden volunteers thrive on the activity and, even more obvious, love each other’s company.

During an equally jovial lunch break in the garden beneath some nearby trees, team member Joel confirms this stating simply, “I enjoy Team Lemonade because it’s a group of people that I get to be next to and talk to.”

It’s an unmistakable common theme running through the entire group and their unbridled enthusiasm maintains the afternoon’s positivity and fun. No one is immune from the buzz. Least of all the team staff members.

Staggard says the Team Lemonade members have helped her learn to “live life without boundaries.” She’s quick to comment that the emotions of the team members are genuine and sincere. They don’t want or expect anything in return in their dealings with others. “They’re just in this present moment and we live so much in the past or in the future. We forget about the right now.”

Garden Happy Faces
Team Lemonade in the House

As an outsider, it’s both a unique and refreshing perspective to find yourself a part of. It also serves as a powerful reminder. One which suggests that the path Team Lemonade has pursued this past year and a half works as intended.

Johnson sums it up this way. “I learned a long time ago tropical fish don’t belong in a gold fishbowl. So, putting tropical fish in a tropical fishbowl, you then see the capabilities of these young people.”

This belief firmly entrenched, the circle becomes complete.

People are helping people. And with everyone learning from each other.

GC Business Networking

A Business Network Event to Remember

 

Wednesday night, the 8th of September would be a business network event to remember for everyone lucky enough to have been able to attend Tugun’s growing Southern Beaches Community Garden.

GC Business Networking
Community Garden & Community Bankattend the Southern Beaches Community Garden’s hosted occasion.

Under clear, late summer, evening skies, the SBCG and its members opened up the grounds of their community garden for something unique. An expertly planned and executed gathering of local business and council members and passionate, civic-minded gardeners.

Councillor Gail O'Neill and Di Gunther
Councillor Gail O’Neill in attendance

Bendigo Bank’s Executive Assistant Maris Dirkx summed it up very succinctly in her following morning thank you email to the garden.

“The GC South Business Network event, proudly co-hosted by Southern Beaches Community Garden and Community Bank Tugun was a huge success last night with over 80 people enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the volunteers of SBCG.

 Guests enjoyed a unique opportunity to mix and mingle under the stars with other local business and organisation representatives.  

 A BIG thank you to the volunteers of SBCG and their hard work to make the event such a success.”

Garden Smiles
Smiles all around

 In addition to what was expressed in her following day’s thank you email, Maris even went so far as to say the event raised the bar and the garden should be proud of itself as this was the first Business Networking Event staged at a venue that wasn’t licensed.

Garden volunteer
One of many volunteers for the big night

And in her short speech on the night, SBCG President Di Gunther was quick to give credit where credit was due. Namely, to the SBCG’s biggest sponsor Bendigo Bank and its Manager Allan Merlehan. As well as to Laura Gerber and Councillor Gail O’Neill for their ongoing support, so much of which has made the garden’s recent expansion project such a huge success.

Then she thanked the 200 plus garden members. Those who, day in and day out, do all the little things that add up to the garden’s ongoing success. Especially the members who cleaned, set up, unpacked, cooked, served, sang, picked up supplies, collected seedlings, prepared the market, served behind the bar, spoke, participated in the garden walks and took pictures.

Youth Music Venture
Lauren from Youth Music Venture

Lastly, a special thanks went out to garden member Deb Power who not only led the night’s team of volunteers but also assumed the evening’s role of MC.

In short, it was a magical night.

The weather was beautiful, the garden looked spectacular, the Balter beer was cold, the food was delicious and the live music by Lauren from Youth Music Venture topped off the event.

Not surprisingly, the SBCG has been asked to host again next year. An invitation the SBCG was quick to accept.

 

.

 

 

Volunteer Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis — The Sky’s the Limit

The sky’s the limit in terms of the work which goes into keeping a community garden running. Even more so, when that community garden is in the midst of doubling in size.

But for Southern Beaches Community Garden volunteer Tony Curtis, he’d really prefer to have it no other way.

SBCG volunteer Tony Curtis
I eat work for breakfast

For nearly forty years, Curtis worked as a rigger and a dogman. Setting up and dismantling worksite cranes along with assisting in all facets of the construction process. The building of many of the high rises which today are so ubiquitous on the Gold Coast in which he was born and raised.

The work agreed with him. Enough so that, along with his three brothers, he’d end up owning his own rigging business, Curtis Steel & Rigging, for eight years.

Taking a quick break from building another wicking bed plot, Tony admits he loved the rigging work and the industry as a whole. The industry was good to him and he says he always enjoyed seeing the progress made at the end of each day.

Volunteer Tony Curtis
Always making friends

But that was nearly five years ago. And despite his rigging days now being behind him, the sixty-something ex-rigger has found a new way to satisfy his industrious proclivities.

Today, when not flying his extensive fleet of large, remote control airplanes, Tony and his trademark weathered leather full brimmed hat, can be found in the SBCG at least three days a week. There he’s been a member assisting in various garden tasks for almost a year. But most recently, he’s been instrumental in leading the charge in constructing the recently expanded premise’s new garden plots.

Thirty-six at last count. With more on the way. A roll call of success Tony is quick to attribute to the organisational skills of those he’s surrounded by.

“Getting things done is a matter of having all the right people around you and the right equipment to do it.”

Volunteer Tony Curtis
Getting it done, one bolt at a time

Tony lists names such as Kerry Hurse, Mandy McKinnon, Steve James, Nic Day, Dianne Casey and Deb Robson. Friends and fellow volunteers who Tony says are instrumental in providing the elbow grease in getting the heavy lifting accomplished.

“They all enjoy the work, and I think it’s the same as me, we’re getting something done. They enjoy that side of it.”

As for the planning and procurement of various necessary equipment, Tony doesn’t hesitate to give credit to SBCG President Di Gunther, Vice President Arch Cruttenden along with Ron Hasketh who oversees the Expansion Committee.

“Organisation is nine-tenths and if it’s organised properly, the job’ll go properly and Di and Archie always try to keep a step ahead and I enjoy that side of it.”

And President Di Gunther is happy to let Tony’s master plan continue playing out as it has been the past four to five months.

“We will not stop until Tony says so,” says Gunther. “There has been no other member who has the skill, ability, leadership, respect or integrity that Tony’s quiet presence exudes.”

It’s lofty and well-deserved praise. Especially good for a guy whose definition of gardening until only a year ago simply implied mowing his lawn.

volunteer Tony Curtis
Tony helping with the mulching

“I’ve always had my own property since I was 17 or 18 old so I always looked after the yard. I’ve never been big into gardens. Just as long as they looked neat, I’ve always been happy. But since I’ve come here, I’ve got an interest in learning all the different stuff.”

Some of that different stuff, he says, revolves around wicking bed construction. And then there’s the fruits and veggies of his labour. A thriving list that includes radishes, lettuces, kale, tomatoes, and, even, a small lime tree.

As for gardening tips, the ex-rigger likes to keep it simple by keeping an eye on the plots of his more experienced gardening friends. “You have to look around, see what stuff is growing the best and which is getting least affected by any bugs we do have and that’s what you grow.”

But ultimately, it’s the garden in its ever-expanding entirety that Tony seems to derive the bulk of his satisfaction from. On this day, when not admiring the periodic small planes flying low over the garden on their final approach into the GC Airport, Tony is quick to point out the hive of activity around him.

New plots being filled. Old ones being watered. Families in the park and playground. Numerous inquisitive faces taking in the sights and

Volunteer Tony Curtis and friends
The centre of it all

various areas of the garden.

There is no mistaking the garden’s expansion to the north side of the SBCG clubhouse has given the garden added exposure. And it’s irrelevant whether it’s the garden reaching out to embrace the nearby playground and public park, or vice versa.

Because, all that matters is, on this day–as has increasingly been the case–people are everywhere.

And Tony Curtis couldn’t be happier. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”

 

 

 

Red Roo CMS 100

Red Roo CMS 100 — A Love Story

How the SBCG came to need our Red Roo CMS 100 is an interesting story. A long story.

Almost 12 years in the making, actually. But the point is, part of the garden’s successful growth was becoming a bit of a laborious chore.

Turning compost
Compost Bin Turning

In particular, when it came time to turn and rotate our six compost bins.

The problem was simple. Our expanding garden was accumulating too much green waste. And far too often, it wasn’t getting chopped small enough. At least, not small enough to get everything to break down as quickly as we needed.

After quite a bit of research, the Red Roo CMS 100 mulcher/chipper/shredder looked to tick all the boxes. Beefy enough to handle a wide range of jobs but still at a price that would agree with grant review members overseeing the funds distribution from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund.

And just like that, the SBCG was the owner of a brand new Red Roo CMS 100 chipper/shredder/mulcher.

Better still, a good two months in, the honeymoon is still in full swing. In short, we love our Red Roo and can’t imagine that sentiment changing any time in the near future.

So that said, we give you our 10 reasons we love our Red Roo CMS 100.

 

It’s made in Australia. Oi, Oi, Oi! Nuff said. Right? If not, don’t worry, there’s more. Plenty more.

Red Roo CMS 100 Homecoming
Red Roo CMS 100 Homecoming

There’s no assembly required. Setting up involves two things. One, pulling a single pin to lower the chipper hopper into place. Then, two, adjusting the discharge area’s rear flap to the angle of your choosing. That done, the CMS 100 is virtually ready to be put to use. Just check the oil, add a bit of fuel and you’re in business.   

It’s mobile and built to last. You won’t need to load the CMS 100 to get her home because the machine is set atop a sturdy two-wheeled axel and is easily towable. There’s even a spare tyre conveniently mounted on the back of the top mulching hopper. Simply hook your Red Roo to your towing bar and that’s it. Anywhere you need to set her up, she’s good to go.

And if your backing skills aren’t up to snuff and you accidentally bump into, say, a tree, check the tree for damage. The CMS 100 is built tough. At 650 kilos, she’s not a lightweight. Keep that in mind and definitely use two hands when you’re lowering the side chipper hopper into place.

Red Roo CMS 100 Rear Discharge Flap
Discharge Area

The instruction manual’s concise and easy. At a total of 14 pages, this manual is far from Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’. And after a brief scan, you’ll quickly understand why.

There’s the page and a half of CMS 100 drawing diagrams to help you quickly pinpoint vital components. A page and a half detailing proper loading of the machine as well as how to avoid and deal with possible overfeeding issues and clogs. A half-page discussing possible troubleshooting issues. And, then, of course, there’s the obligatory section of safety.

But to be honest, unless you’re inclined to sticking forks into power points, juggling revving chainsaws or swimming in croc infested rivers and creeks, getting up and running can really be boiled down to two pages.

This being the manual’s step by step ‘Start Up’ and ‘Shutting Down’ page. Read it a couple times and it quickly becomes almost second nature. But just in case you need a quick refresher, Red Roo has been kind enough to mount a convenient storage container atop the chipping hopper. A cylindrical tube with a screw on top to keep both the manual and set of ignition keys dry, secure and close by.

All which segues perfectly into the next reason we love our Red Roo CMS 100.

It’s virtually idiot-proof. At a single glance, the CMS 100 simply makes sense. There are two feeding chutes or hoppers. The chipper, off toRed Roo CMS 100 the side for larger material up to 100mm (4 inches) in diameter. And a top feeding hopper for smaller material up to 50mm. Mulched and shredded material is discharged at knee level from the back of the machine. It’s hardly rocket science.

But it’s the CMS 100’s relatively new external clutch bar that really deserves high praise for taking the cost out of human error. The bar was designed and incorporated to circumvent expensive maintenance repairs resulting from operators overzealously loading the hoppers simultaneously. In the past a burnt out standard internal clutch meant a close to four-figure repair.

Make the same mistake with the current external clutch bar and you’ll only be set back less than $50 for a new belt.

Red Roo CMS 100
Clutch bar

Customer service are patient and helpful. Yeah, I know, it’s virtually impossible to find a business web page that doesn’t put this claim front and centre. But due to a Victorian public holiday and some mixed messaging on our part in regards to the pick-up procedure, we put Red Roo’s Sales Management team to a true test.

A test which involved a phone call to Red Roo’s Victorian warehouse and a couple prompt text messages. All from a sales manager out of the office, at home during his day off. On the Queen’s birthday, no less.

It was our mistake and yet, the Red Roo team didn’t leave us hanging and helped sort our issue immediately. And we were extremely grateful.

It was to be the first indication our decision to go with Red Roo was a good one.

It’s powerful and reliable. According to the CMS 100 literature, the heart and soul of the Red Roo CMS 100 is a 31 hp V- Twin Briggs &

Red Roo CMS 100
Briggs and Stratton Engine

Stratton Vanguard petrol engine. If you just read that sentence and felt your pulse race, I dare say you’re far more mechanically inclined than I am. For those, like me, needing a bit more explanation, the Red Roo website has a three-and-a-half-minute video explaining everything. All about the cutting-edge technology and craftsmanship that goes into every Briggs and Stratton design.

But all you REALLY need to know is this: the CMS 100 starts the first time, every time. And better still, it’s a hungry beast that doesn’t flinch in the face of a substantial load.

It’s versatile. As for those substantial loads, we’ve given our Red Roo a real baptism by fire. Tree and bush branches, twigs, sticks, vines, clumps of shrubbery, palm fronds, piles of leaves, small timber offcuts, newspaper, paper cups and plates and cardboard. The CMS is an equal opportunity mulcher/chipper/shredder. So much so, chances are good you’ll find yourself constantly on the hunt for more items to feed it. Or, as the case may be, those items will probably find you. See below.

You’ll make new friends. The same way bringing a puppy to a social gather will tend to make you the life of the party, breaking out your Red Roo CMS 100 is guaranteed to draw a crowd. Inquisitive stares will give way to initial tentative questions. All of which will lead to unavoidable friendly banter. Especially once you’ve turned the ignition key and set the V – twin loose on the neighbourhood. The word will be out. Pruning jobs will never be the same and trips to the tip will be a thing of the past. Like ute drivers the world over have been doing since time immemorial, you may have to learn how to politely say ‘No’.

Maintenance is minimal. You shouldn’t have to know how to strip and rebuild a combustible engine just to do a serious bit of mulching,

Red Roo CMS 100
Red Roo in action

chipping and shredding. Thankfully, Red Roo would agree. And the preventative maintenance required for their CMS 100 proves it.

There on the next to last page of the Operation Manual, you find everything you need to keep your Red Roo happy. A full third of a page, to be exact. A measly third page dealing with the location, timing requirements for the grease and lubrication points of the CMS 100.

All four of them. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

So, from the SBCG, we say Happy Mulching!

(Grease gun not included).

signing the new lease

A Long Time Coming

 

signing the new lease
Mark, signing the new lease

A Long Time Coming

It’s been a long time coming but it appears the hard work of so many Southern Beaches Community Garden members has finally paid off. For a while, there’d been talk and plenty of whispers on the grapevine about the expansion of our little community garden. But, as the saying goes, good things come to those that wait. Or, in this case, diligently persevere.

Yet, as the pictures included here can attest to, the wait is over. Eleven and a half years since first being incorporated, expansion is underway.

Back in 2010, equipped with little more than gumption and a lease from Gold Coast City

garden expansion site
New garden expansion site

Councillor Chris Robbins, an agenda was set. To commandeer a plot of land located directly behind the Tugun Community Centre, and turn it into something special.

This being a community garden that would allow for the general sharing of sustainable and environmentally friendly gardening ideas and knowledge. While also serving as an outlet to a healthy lifestyle and an overall better quality of life for the community as a whole.

 

building garden plots
Building garden plots

Humble Beginnings

Just getting the lease would prove a major first hurdle as original plans to set the garden up in Palm Beach were knocked back. Council’s reasoning being, such a plan would never get enough traction to prove successful. But many early members had a vision that they simply wouldn’t allow to be vanquished. Members such as Margo Janes, Chris Ettelbuttel, Mark Bibby and Michael Ratcliffe. And more. Each and everyone who worked relentlessly to get things off the ground.

Such determination would prove instrumental as local council’s scepticism very nearly proved correct once the ground was finally broken in their new Tugun home. Because it’d be then that the approximately 40 ambitious new SBCG members would be confronted with the reality of various obstacles impeding the success of their fledgling community garden.

There being nowhere to store various tools and equipment, members were forced to liaison with neighbours sympathetic to the gardeners’

Tony, volunteer extraordinaire
Tony, volunteer extraordinaire

plans. Neighbours who allowed SBCG materials to be stored on their property during the construction of the garden’s first plots.

And then there was a water issue. The issue being, there simply wasn’t much to be had. At least, none other than from a single spigot located in the middle of the nearby public park located a hundred metres away.

So those early days saw more than their fair share of toil. Like busy ants walking to and fro constructing, filling and watering their new community garden’s plots. Plots that would serve as the initial beachhead for so many to follow.

And follow they have. To the tune of 100 eventual total plots for a present garden membership tally in the vicinity of 150 members.

Community Involvement

Members that, over the years have lent their time and energy in helping various organisations accomplish their own agendas. Groups and organisations such as The Thrower House, Blair Athol Homeless Shelter, U3A (University of the Third Age), the Endeavour Foundation, Centrelink and more.

And then there are the community-building efforts of putting on free workshops and attending various annual festivals. Festivals which you can always find SBCG volunteers distributing free seedlings to young and old alike. Events such as the Bleach and Swell Festivals in Coolangatta, the Check It Mental Health Festival in Southport, the Tallebudgera Flood Relief Effort and most recently the Hide and Seek Markets located around the southern Gold Coast.

successful garden expansion
Garden expansion plots everywhere

Eleven and a half years of sharing our community and environmentally friendly driven passion for sustainable gardening. And forging new friendships along the way. Working relationships with the Gold Coast City Council’s Gail O’Neill, the Tweed Pony Club, Somerset College, the Bendigo Tugun Community Bank, Climate Wave Enterprises, Bunnings and countless local community mowing businesses, butchers, builders and nurseries.

So, thank you to everyone that has had a hand in helping bring this special moment to fruition. It’s been a whirlwind ride but one that proves anything is possible.

Especially when it is done together.

Dr. Toby Smith

A Morning with Costa Georgiadis

Costa Georgiadis. If you’ve ever invested even a couple of weeks in attempting to start your own veggie garden, chances are really good you’ve heard of the guy.

Costa Georgiadis
Costa in the house

The vivacious and exuberant host of ABC’s Gardening Australia, Costa (along with his trademark beard) is a cultural icon of sorts.

In many ways, it could be argued Costa Georgiadis is to gardening in Australia as…

Shane Warne is to cricket

Steve Irwin is to wildlife conservation

And Michael Jordan is to basketball.

Overblown hyperbole? Perhaps. (The affable Costa would probably say as much).

Native Bee Aficionados
L to R: Dr. Toby, Arch and Peter

But you get the gist. When Costa speaks, people tune in and take notice.

So when the invitation email from the man to be a part of a live-streamed Facebook event on the topic of beekeeping presented itself, an all-hands-on-deck call went out. All with the intention of bringing everything together for what everyone was certain would be a momentous occasion.

But what eventually played out managed to impress even the most optimistic of expectations. And, if I dare to say, even the expectations of Costa himself.

And truth be told, the SBCG has two main individuals to thank for this.

Live Streaming
Live Streaming Peter splitting a hive

Peter Davenport, a practising beehive aficionado of close to 35 years. And Dr. Toby Smith, a native bee researcher based out of the University of Queensland.

Following a concise lead-in from SBCG secretary Arch Cruttenden, Peter and Toby would set the day’s Facebook Live Chat feed alight with their knowledge, humour and, most importantly, their passion.

It was a passion shared by the live feed’s other guests. Guests such as The Practical Beekeeper, Benedict Hughes from Melbourne, Victoria. Etymology Ph.D. student Amelie Vanderstock in Japan. And Christine Peterson, a backyard beekeeper out of Townsville, Queensland.

In all, the SBCG section of the nearly 80-minute-long live feed would top out at a little more than sixteen minutes…

But an amazingly stimulating sixteen minutes it was as Peter and Toby really pulled back the curtains on Southeast Queensland’s stingless bees,

Dr. Toby Smith
Happy is the man who follows his passion

Tetragonula Trigona Carbonaria.

If you’ve ever had any questions about bees and, more specifically, maintaining native

stingless bees here in Australia, you won’t be disappointed. So please click the link below and watch the replay of Costa’s presentation here. FYI, the SBCG segment begins at 18:45.

As it did for us, we’re sure it’ll be a presentation that (pardon the pun) will leave you with quite a buzz.

Thanks again to Costa and everyone that helped make the day both possible and so incredibly memorable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Composted green waste

How to Start Composting

Of all the many ways to be both environmentally conscious and proactive, learning how to start composting is easily one of the most viable first steps for any household to take.

Viable because, according to the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority, the average Australian household’s wheelie bin is comprised of 35% food waste.

Nationwide that equates to over five million tonnes of food dumped into landfills per year.

What do five million tonnes of food look like? Incredibly, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Types of Composting Options

Compost Bin Friends
Everyone’s a winner with Composting

The first concept to grasp in learning how to start composting is learning how many options you actually have at your disposal.

Quickly, here is a quick list of options.

Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll be taking a big first step in removing methane-producing green waste from your local landfill.

But that said, this post will focus on the last option from the list above; open enclosure.

Open Enclosure Compost Bins

Turning compost
Compost Bin Turn

Open enclosure bins can be constructed of all shapes and sizes. Materials used to build them can include corrugated tin, chicken wire, timber, logs and even discarded pallets.

At the SBCG, our compost bins are approximately 1.5 metre square and have been constructed using extremely sturdy timber. And to help provide easier access for turning and aerating the pile, one side of each compost bin is comprised of removable slats.

Once you’ve decided on the size, building materials and location of where to situate your open enclosure bin, you’re ready to start loading it.

How to Start Composting with your Open Enclosure Bin

STEP 1. Use bare earth as the base of your compost bin. Not only will this allow your compost bin to breathe and drain properly, it will also allow beneficial organisms access to the waste.

STEP 2. On top of the bare earth, line the base of your bin with a generous amount of shredded paper, dry leaves, twigs, or straw. This layer will

Turning compost
One Last Turn

further help to aid in the proper drainage as well as provide an inviting place of residence for the organisms that end up calling your compost bin home.

STEP 3. Start adding your green waste in layers remembering to alternate between wet and dry. Wet ingredients include any of your kitchen scraps such as vegetable peelings or tea bags. Dry material can include materials such as leaves, straw, coffee grounds, woodchips or sawdust.

To eliminate strong odours and pests, avoid adding such items as meat, fish, poultry, dairy products and fats such as grease and oils.

STEP 4. Add a nitrogen source to speed the composting process up by activating the compost pile. Green manure is ideal but this can also include grass clippings.

STEP 5. Keep your compost pile damp. Too dry and the contents of your pile won’t break down. Too wet and things will start to smell. Aim for the moisture content of a wrung-out sponge.

STEP 6. Cover your compost pile as needed. You can use wood, scraps of carpet or even a tarp with the goal of retaining the pile’s moisture level and, more importantly, heat.

STEP 7. Periodically turn the pile. Use a pitchfork or shovel every two to three weeks, depending on the size of the pile. Turning the pile aerates it and allows oxygen to work its magic. This oxygen infusion allows an increased number and variety of micro-organisms into the mix and ultimately aids in speeding up the composting process.

How Much Time Does Open Enclosure Bin Composting Require?

Composted green waste
The Finished Product–Ready for your Garden

How long will it take for your compost pile to be ready to utilise on your garden depends on a few factors.

Factors such as:

  • The size of you compost bin
  • What material you put in the pile
  • How meticulous you are in tending to it

Assuming you’ve followed this list closely, three months is a realistic target for when you can expect your compost to be ready to use.

And by ready, this implies a rich, humus matter that is dark, crumbly and smells like a handful of soil scooped out of a bag of gardening mix.

All of which is a far cry from the alternative of a pile of smelly, methane-producing scraps rotting in your local landfill.