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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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
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.”
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.
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.
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 to 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.
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 &
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,
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.
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
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.
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’
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.
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.
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.
A week following our big day, an even bigger day–in the form of a Red Wriggler Homecoming–was in store for the Southern Beaches Community Garden.
It’d be then, on Thursday, March 5th—amidst grey skies and torrential rain—Tom Symmons from Worms Downunder (based out of Chandler, QLD) would arrive with the SBCG’s newest, most anticipated members in tow.
Worms. But not just any worms.
Red wiggler composting worms. Lots and lots of them.
Five kilograms or, to be a bit more precise, something in the vicinity of 20,000 worms.
Delivered and spread out amidst their moist cocopeat and straw bedding inside the SBCG’s Double Grande Worm Habitat, the red wigglers would begin their settling in process.
It was an impressive sight, seeing those little magical creepy crawlies set loose in their new home. But, not nearly as impressive as the Red Wigglers themselves. At least, according to the incredibly thorough and enlightening literature provided in the Worms Downunder information pack.
For example, did you know the worms:
Breathe through their skin as they don’t have any lungs
Are hermaphrodites (they all have both male and female reproductive organs)
Are sensitive to light to the point where paralysis can occur within one hour
Can die if their skin becomes too dry
Cannot regulate their body temperature as they’re cold-blooded
In addition to body temperature, ambient temperature plays a major factor in the rate at which the Red Wigglers feed. Too high or too low a
temperature takes the worms out of their ideal comfort zone, greatly reducing the amount of food they consume.
However, in an ideal, well-maintained environment, Red Wigglers are capable of eating anywhere from 50 to 100% of their body weight in organic matter PER DAY.
So it stands to reason, then, the more worms, the better.
And the best part…?
You don’t have to worry about having to cull any of your Red Wiggler worm population as the little critters are as clever as they are hungry. Clever in that their reproduction is self-regulated in direct proportion to the size of their environment.
Regulated to the point where, in ideally maintained conditions, the worms can double their numbers once every three months.
Which, for the SBCG’s Double Grande Worm Habitat, will eventually equate to 80,000 Red Wigglers…
All doing their part in processing upwards of 40 litres of green waste a day, producing nutrient, soil-enriching worm ‘castings’ and helping to remove vast quantities of methane producing green waste from our local landfills.
A win-win for the SBCG and the local community alike.
Compliments of MP Karen Andrews’ Communities Environment Grant, once set up and fully operational, the Double Grande Worm Farm Habitat will be ready to handle upwards of 40 litres of green waste per day.
In doing so, the Double Grande will help remove approximately 3 tonnes of biodegradable waste from landfill per
All while creating soil enriching worm castings considered by many to be some of the best all-natural fertiliser found anywhere.
Yes, the excitement and anticipation was real.
Real enough to create an adrenaline fuelled, engineering inspired epiphany of sorts. One that would see the garden’s new 200 kilo worm farm put on three rollers and pushed and navigated through tight quarters the last 25 metres…
Eventually into position at its permanent home beside the SBCG propagation tunnel located in front of the garden clubhouse.
And it’d be there where, five hours later, the Worms Downunder owner would take the helm by giving various garden members, along with an inquisitive Karen Andrews herself, an in-depth tour and description of the community garden’s newest attraction.
It would take a bit of imagination on everyone’s part. This, because the process of properly setting up and wetting
down the habitat’s straw and coco peat’s bedding requires that the worms be delivered at a later date.
But even so, the combination of the habitat’s various moving parts coupled with Jen’s thoroughly informative talk on vermiculture painted a picture that kept everyone fascinated.
All of which proved the perfect segue for a private garden tour for the MP and her assistants compliments of SBCG President Marian Evans.
A tour which, once complete, would see the MP’s party departing with a couple potted plants as mementos of their time at the SBCG.
And the SBCG with rewarding memories of their own.
And more importantly, with the inclination to get their Double Grande Worm Habitat running at maximum capacity as quickly and effectively as possible.
In 1956, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh had a plan. He wanted to set up an awards program which would recognise adolescents and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement activities. The ultimate goal of the program being to help young people discover their full potential by finding their purpose, passion and place in the world.
To achieve this award, each young person would need to participate in a four part process. A process which revolves around physical recreation, skills, community service and participating in a team adventure in a new environment. All while under the guidance of award leaders, supervisors and accessors.
Today the Duke of Edinburgh Award has expanded to 144 countries with over 8 million young adults having participated in the past 55 plus years of its existence. And in Australia alone, the Duke of Edinburgh Award has seen over 775,000 young people participate.
Young people like 14 year olds, Niamh Williams and Hester Clark of Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School in Terranora, NSW.
For a period of three months, both Niamh and Hester have collectively worked 26 hours under the guidance of SBCG
Community Engagement Officer Di Gunther. In that time their activities and subsequent accomplishments have been numerous.
These activities and tasks involved garden projects including seeding and weeding along with general garden beautification projects. Projects such as designing murals for the garden white board and composting bins, installing and decorating the wooden frames around the garden’s worm farm baths and assisting garden member Hana
Smith decorate large bulk containers with colourful and engaging sunflower and bumble bee scenes.
Additionally, the two friends also designed a folder containing various seedlings that are distributed at community workshops so the recipients can see what the plant will look like once it matures. And at the Palmy Festival, Niamh
donated her time at the Children’s Workshop answering questions and assisting the ever inquisitive youngsters in preparing and taking home a decorated pot with their choice of seedling.
In the end, it’s simply safe to say, it’s been a very hands on few months for two very busy bees. All of which has been incredibly appreciated.
“The girls have been a credit to the youth of today,” says Gunther who adds such a positive experience will see her being
very proactive in inviting many more young people into the garden. “The artwork they have helped create has been happy and injects colour into the garden space and ignites the imagination of all ages…More families have joined since the girls have been involved and when asked why, they simply state they enjoy the welcoming feeling they get when walking around the garden.”
As for how two teenagers managed to find themselves in the SBCG garden in the first place, that can be largely attributed to Niamh’s mother, Fiona, who, as fate would have it, herself participated in The Duke of Edinburgh back in 1988-89 while in school in Ireland. (Fittingly, Niamh’s father, Paul, completed his program in 1984-85 in England).
Fiona says she was struggling to find a project to fulfil the community service portion of the award until a couple lunch break discussions with Di—the two are co-workers in the mental health department at Tweed Hospital– parted the clouds in what everyone seems to feel has been a very symbiotic working relationship.
“It’s been good to see how everyone at the garden works as a team to make projects come together,” says Hester.
And Niamh, “I now have a greater interest in doing planting and gardening projects at home,” before adding a sentiment both rising high schoolers share. “Thank you to Di, Hana and everyone else at the garden for making this such a positive experience.”
All of which is, no doubt, everything Prince Phillip could’ve hoped for.