Students from University Technology Sydney visited the Southern Highlands recently to do some good works. They are a part of a “pay it forward” program called “The Big Lift ” which started in an American university some years ago where students calling themselves The Blue Crew travel to regional areas helping out community groups with tasks they cannot otherwise get completed.
Moss Vale Community Garden were lucky enough to have their company in early October for a morning of energetic gardening activities – namely clearing the back slope of a tenacious weedy groundcover in preparation for a proposed native & bush tucker bed. And with the help of our ever helpful Moss Vale CWA ladies, we were able to feed and water them with yummy home-made fayre.
What a great initiative!
In his tenth year of hosting cheese workshops for us, Nathan Burke once again took a group of interested locals through the process of making a variety of cheeses. These workshops are always popular and we have generally run at least two each year.
The day is fun and informative and participants took their three parcels of cheese home, the ricotta and quarg almost ready to eat, but the camembert requiring a few weeks of nurturing before it can be scoffed. There is no doubt that, in my opinion and that of a few previous workshop participants, it is the nicest camembert that you will ever taste!
Following on from the ABC’s WAR ON WASTE program and encouraged by our intrepid secretary Diny, a small contingent of community gardeners gathered to learn to make a natural replacement for clingfilm – “ecowraps” – which are made from cotton fabric saturated with natural beeswax, pine rosin & jojoba oil.
These can be wrapped around veges or over the top of leftover food bowls to keep the food fresh in the fridge, then wiped clean ready for ongoing re-use. No one-use plastic film being thrown in the bin to become tomorrow’s waste problem.
Diny has been demonstrating these ecowraps at our local farmers’ market where we hope people will make a choice to join us in phasing out the use of plastic cling film.
In July, we joined the Southern Highlands chapter of “Boomerang Bags Australia” in learning how to make shopping bags out of discarded fabric that was otherwise going to end up in landfill along with all of the plastic shopping bags we are hoping they will replace.
We plan to make enough to have at our local plastic bag -free farmers’ market (Railway Street Fresh Food and Produce Market) in Moss Vale. They are designed to be available in case a customer forgets to bring their usual non-plastic shopping baskets/bags and can “borrow & bring back” one of our cloth alternatives.
It was a fun day sitting around sewing machines chatting, laughing and creating. We hope to do it again soon……..
For the second year running, Neil Barraclough of the Rare & Heritage Fruit Tree Association (Vic) has traveled country NSW skilling up interested locals on how to graft and maintain heritage varieties of fruit trees, some on the endangered list. Not only did he share his knowledge and skills in the grafting process itself, but he brought along a huge selection of scion (grafting wood) to our community garden for participants to graft and grow on to maturity.
At the Garden, we hope to keep a register of which varieties are now growing in our shire for sharing wood at future events.
Neil also demonstrated how to set up a rootstock bed so that in the future, the community garden can be a limited source of local rootstocks for locals to graft wood from their desired trees onto.
A big thanks to Neil for his generosity. And thanks also to all participants. It was a pleasant and interesting day.