I’m looking to get together anyone interested in setting up a city farm in Newcastle similar to other city farms such as those in Melbourne (http://farm.org.au/) and Brisbane (http://www.northeystreetcityfarm.org.au/) and soon Sydney (http://www.sydneycityfarm.org/). They are places where city people can have farm experiences but they are also productive, creating a supply of food for the city, in the city.
Check out the websites to get an idea of whats involved and send me an email at christopher.wallis[at]gmail.com if you’re interested in getting involved. We have the connections, backing and skills to put something like this together, but we need community support to make it work.
Yours on the future farm,
The Australian Conservation Foundation has released data on the sustainability of 19 Australian cities and has ranked Newcastle 17th and has given it the lowest possible rating for air quality. Check out the list and the fact sheet on Newcastle here.
It might sound bleak but one permaculture tool that cleans up air quality is the mighty tree. Leaves collect dust and air pollutants from the air, which are then washed away by rain, so get planting!
Whether we like it or not it’s a simple fact these days that the government isn’t going to enact some huge change to fix the environment, and even if they did it wouldn’t work. But don’t despair – There’s plenty of ways we can make a difference in our day to day lives that can really add up.
Simple changes such as changing from beef to kangaroo as a meat source can make a big difference. Kangaroo costs no more, tastes great – quite similar, and saves tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Kangaroo produces 3% of the methane and uses 3% of the water per kilo compared to beef. They also don’t destroy the soil as they don’t have hooves!
Not everyone can get solar panels on their roof, (although Climate Action Newcastle is making it easier than ever) but almost everyone can change their electricity to 100% new renewables (wind/solar). There are plenty of good options available now and there’s a ranked list and guide at www.greenelectricitywatch.org.au
Everyone can grow some edible vegetation too. Even the smallest apartments have space for a few herbs in a pot. No-dig gardens mean you can build a garden anywhere, even on concrete, dirt cheap. It only takes an afternoon to put together and can produce a great vegetable garden.
Composting too is invaluable. Composting converts scraps and produces wonderful compost for your garden. If a pile of mulch in the corner isn’t your style, you could try any form from a worm farm, indoor bacteria composter, rotary composter, or even some chickens! Chicken poo is great for the garden and they’ll eat all your scraps including meat. They’re also a good source of protein if you’re that way inclined.
Any opportunity to use local produce (especially that from your garden) and dispose / convert / recycle “waste” locally (especially compost/scraps and grey water) reduces the transport costs involved. That means less emissions produced and less oil used – which is good for everyone.
Look out enviro friends – not all companies are honest and up front. This article for small business – “Leverage the green movement to your advantage” - actually recommends green washing in combination with Earth Day -
“Earth Day can be your green reprieve for the other 364 days of the year that you might be ignoring doing something green.”
Go along and give your feedback. Make sure small business knows that there are smart consumers out there that can see through this kind of scam.
- Sprinkle used grounds around plants before rain or watering, for a slow-release nitrogen.
- Add to compost piles to increase nitrogen balance. Coffee filters and tea bags also break down rapidly during composting….
- Dilute with water for a gentle, fast-acting liquid fertilizer. Use about one can of wet grounds in a 15L bucket of water; let sit outdoors to achieve ambient temperature.
- Mix into soil for houseplants or new vege patches.
- Encircle the base of the plant with a coffee and eggshell barrier to repel pests.
- Use around all acid-loving plants.
- It is especially good in the mulch for tomato plants for the nitrogen boost and suppresses blight.
- Reduces snails and slugs when mixed in the mulch
- Can get rid of slugs and snails by mixing up some instant coffee and making it 2-3 times stronger than normal. Spray around where slugs roam and you will notice a drop off in damage..
- Put around where cats go to the toilet because they don’t like the texture under their paws
- Worms love it