Category Archives: Kitchen Gardeners

Transition Town Guildford’s First Garden & Produce Share: The Power of Sharing and Connecting with Like-minded People

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Transition Town Guildford’s Garden and Produce Share Stall

On the weekend Transition Town Guildford launched their first Garden & Produce Share at the Stirling Square Markets in Guildford.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of a Garden & Produce share, here’s how it works:

People bring their excess garden produce to share. This could be seeds, seedlings, veggies, cuttings and/or fruit. People take what they need. No money is exchanged.

That’s right, you read that correctly: no money is exchanged. Not a single cent.

This baffled quite a few people who came along to our stall. “Can I give a donation for the persimmons?” and “Are you sure I can just take this apple?!”.

Our response?

No. We don’t want your money. And please, take the apple. We want you to have the apple! 

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It’s all free. Please take a tromboncini!

I can understand that it may seem a little strange to go to a market stall and be told “You can talk anything you want. All of this stuff is free”. This isn’t exactly the norm in Western consumer culture! But judging from the delighted looks on people’s faces as they munched on the crisp homegrown apples and other fresh produce, I could tell it was a welcome change.

So you may be wondering, “What sort of produce did people share?”

Being the daughter of stone fruit orchardists, I shared some second-grade fruit from my parents’ orchard in the Perth hills. I brought some macadamia nuts along too which a little local boy had fun cracking and eating. My husband picked some green capsicums and garlic from last year to share with others too.

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Cracking macadamia nuts. It’s addictive.

Being our first produce share, I have to admit my expectations were fairly low. I thought maybe some people would bring a few herbs to share. Perhaps some seedlings too.

I couldn’t have imagined the variety of fruits and vegetables people would bring along: Jerusalem artichokes, tromboncinis, Indian guavas, persimmons, garlic, bay leaves, galaxy apples, limes, lemons… we had a better selection of organic produce than Coles and Woolworths put together!

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Some of the stars: Pineapple and Jerusalem Artichoke.

One generous lady even donated a pineapple. It had taken her 2.5 years to grow this beast! And boy, did it smell delicious.

I also noticed that the produce was super fresh (most of it was picked on the day!). I could clearly see the difference between the homegrown produce and the sad looking wilted stuff sold at the local shop.

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An example of the produce a mother and her young daughter contributed

Everyone who came along left with a bag or basket full of different coloured goodies and a big smile on their face to boot.

It was really nice to see local residents come across our stall, take a few items and then say “I’ll just pop home to get some cuttings and lemons to contribute!” I think it must be in our nature to be generous and share.

What struck me about the whole event is how a garden and produce share can be a powerful way to connect with others and share local gardening knowledge.

Here’s an example of conversation I had:

Guildford resident: “What is this? Is it ginger?”

Me: “No, apparently that’s a Jerusalem artichoke”

Guildford resident: “Oh! What’s it taste like?”

Me: “They say a bit like a potato. You’ll have to try it and see!”

What the Garden and Produce share showed me is how good it feels when you remove money from the equation.

The event has re-inspired my love of food and community. It is deeply satisfying to give away your produce to others who understand the hard work involved in growing your own food. To connect with other fellow gardeners is food for my soul (like charlie carp and kelp is to my veggies!).

We’re going to trial the Garden and Produce Share for the next 3 months and see how it goes. The next one will be on the 15th of May from 10am – 11am. Put it in your diary. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

 

Launching a local Produce and Garden Share

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We are trialing our first Garden and Produce Share this Sunday at the local Stirling Square Markets – Guildford.

Come share your excess seeds, seedlings, cuttings, produce, etc.

We’ll have excess garlic, herbs and second grade fruit from a local orchard to share. Please come along and feel free to add to the produce and take a few goodies home.

If you don’t have something to share, don’t stress. Everyone is welcome. Early bird catches the worm (and gets more garlic! 😉

More details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/726701210803263/

If you ride to the market on your bike, you’ll also get a $10 voucher to spend at the markets (this is a bike week initiative by the EMRC)

Composting 101

On Sunday 21st February the Kitchen Gardeners’ Group met in Guildford for a Compost workshop. It was great to see many people turn up to be inspired by compost making. Our presenters looked at cold composting, hot composting, Bokashi bins and Black Soldier flies. Each system had its different requirements and advantages.

Hot composting requires  you to have all the ingredient ready and someone to hold a hose while your building the pile. You will need ¾ of dry matter (carbon rich); that is dry leaves, mulch, paper, any dry plant matter and approximately ¼ of green matter (higher nitrogen); that could be grass, any leafy vegetable, green prunings. You can also add some high nitrogen like chicken droppings/manures, coffee grounds, and a bit of blood and bone as a starter.

Peter explaining hot composting with wire cages.

Peter explaining hot composting with wire cages.

You can use mesh to make a container with  > 1 meter diameter and fill this with different layers of brown and green matter, soaking it all as you go (the moisture should be like a squeezed sponge). With a small sprinkling of high nitrogen or rock dust occasionally added.

Making a new pile of hot compost is easier with support

Making a new pile of hot compost is easier with support

Once the container is full cover completely, then let it sit for 4 days, or until the temperature reaches ~55-60 C degrees (this is where a large compost thermometer comes in handy!*). Then with a fork, turn it over into a new pile, ensuring to mix the outside bits to the inside, and wetting again if needed. You want to mix well and for the temperature to reach ~60 C, to ensure you kill any weed seeds or pathogens, but too hot and your pile will go anaerobic, which isn’t good.

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The end product of a hot compost pile should be dark, sweet smelling and with original components unrecognizable.

Cold composting is less scientific, you just need a closed container with two open ends and a lid.** Bury the wider side a few centimeters below the ground. All you need to do is throw in your kitchen vegetable waste adding shredded paper or dry leaves every now and then so it doesn’t go smelly and get too wet. Every now and then turn it round with a fork so that it airs and doesn’t go anaerobic. For more details on cold composting, see this info sheet prepared and generously shared by Rob Gully & Brenda Conochie of Greens Services WA.

With Bokashi bins you can use kitchen scraps of all kinds, for example meat, fish, dairy products, which aren’t usually a good idea for cold and hot composting. These scraps are pressed with a potato masher to exclude air, covered with a handful of bran, and sealed in an air-tight container. The bran is impregnated with good bacteria/fungus which ferment the food scraps. The only care required every so often is to drain the by-product; a bacteria rich juice, of the anaerobic composting. This is very easy with a commercial Bokashi Bucket which has a spigot for this purpose and can be diluted 1 to 20 and used as a tonic on the garden.

When the bucket is full, it is sealed shut and set aside for ten to twelve days. When the bucket is opened, the contents looks roughly pickled. This pre-compost needs to be buried in a spot in the garden for a few weeks to finish decomposition. Beware: It is still acidic, plant roots should not come in contact with it for two to four weeks.

 

*TTG members can borrow the Kitchen Gardeners’ meter long compost thermometer.

** You can buy large cold compost bins, cheaper than hardware stores ($49.50) from Environment House in Bayswater.