26th Oct 2022 |
On Saturday the 22nd October, 70 curious Landcarers gathered in the historic and homely Copping Hall to learn how to grow healthy, local food for our communities.
Landcare Tasmania acknowledges the Oyster Bay people as the traditional owners of the land on which this workshop was held and we pay respect to elders past, present and emerging.
Image: © Yasmin Mund
Huddled in the hall amongst heavy rain, this workshop came at an important time. With climate change, increasing extreme weather events, and world events such as war and pandemic, our nutrition, food supply and cost of living is increasingly insecure.
Sold-out with a brimming wait-list, this event responded to community demand for knowledge on local food security, the importance of community and market gardens, soil health, and nutrient dense food. We were excited to hear from an excellent line up of speakers including renowned gardener and author Steve Solomon, Christina Giudici from The New Black Biochar and Louise Sales from 24 Carrot Gardens. Sadly we missed out on a garden walk and talk (that weather...) with Bec Kelley from Bream Creek Community Market Garden, who pioneered this workshop by submitting the idea to our Project Bank this year.
Bellies were filled by Orlando Plenty who put on a delicious and nutritious lunch grown and cooked by local hands, with love.
Image: Renowned author and gardener Steve Solomon © Yasmin Mund
After a 3 hour long drive from the north, Steve Solomon came to teach us that our food is not nearly as nutritious as we think it is, we are probably all malnourished (which contributes to a fair chunk of the health problems we have, along with stress and chemicals), and some ways to profitably increase the nutritional value of our soils and our food.
Images: Some of Steve Solomon's titles
We learnt that even if you're eating lots of veggies and fruits, black rice and beans, you're probably still malnourished nutritionally - most of the fruits and veggies found in the supermarket today have much lower levels of nutrients than in the early 1900s because our soils are lacking nutrients.
Image: A captivated audience © Yasmin Mund
Steve told us about some ways we can increase the amount of nutrients in the soil, and outlined some resources for easy, cheap fertilisers specific to Tassie soils. He noted that it's important to not only reintroduce microbes to the soil, but to also give them nutrients to feed on and feed to the plants, which then feed animals that eat those plants (including us!). This talk was recorded by a generous volunteer, so stay tuned for the resource on YouTube!
Image: Lou Sales from 24 Carrot Gardens © Yasmin Mund
Lou Sales gave a great talk on food security, explaining to us that food security in many places, especially low socio-economic areas, doesn't necessarily mean lack of food and calories. High carb and sugar foods are usually cheaper than fruit and veggies in low socio economic areas, so people opt for these high calorie, low nutrient foods. This tied in with Steve's point that people can be eating enough food but the food is usually nutrient-poor and people are therefore malnourished.
Lou talked about her work in communities in Bridgewater, Gagebrook, Herdsmans Cove and the northern suburbs as the head horticulturalist for the Material Institute, running the headquarters of the 24 Carrot Gardens Program at the Botanical Institute in Bridgewater. She gave us some good news stories and we learnt about the power of community, employing locally, and thinking outside the box about social issues.
Image: Sappho and Ryan (and spawn) from Orlando Plenty © Yasmin Mund
Sappho and Ryan then introduced us to their local business, Orlando Plenty, and the lunch for the day. They have a strong relationship with small scale producers and growers which means they are able to provide an offering that is seasonal, fresh and abundant, while supporting local communities and the environment. The lunch was a-mazing. A great example of locally-grown, more nutrient-rich food than what's in the supermarkets - and supporting local communities too.
Image: Christina showcasing some 'black gold' © Yasmin Mund
We then heard from Christina Giuici from The New Black Biochar. As we were a bit drowsy after such a big lunch, Christina made us bond with people from the other side of the room to be elemental bonds, mimicking how biochar is made - a great way to keep us awake! Christina taught us what biochar is, how to make it and how to best use it. Although we couldn't have a fire, we were able to have a look at the real thing, brought in by both Christina and Bill Harvey.
We learnt that biochar is like a pantry with empty shelves - it isn't very nutritious on its own as it's like eating cardboard or wood, but it has a heap of empty shelves which nutrients can be stacked in and microbes can sit and hide in. It supports life! It's really great added to soil to hold nutrients and facilitate soil life, alongside our usual compost.
All of the presentations tied together to give us a good education on what food security really is, how to improve the nutrition value of our soils and food, where to access resources so we can keep learning, and the power of community. This event brought together people not only to learn about growing healthy, local food, but also to form connections and come together in strength to face the known and unknown challenges that we face today.
We would like to thank the Bream Creek Community Market Garden, in particular Bec and Jeddah, for initiating the workshop by applying to our Project Bank, and then doing so much behind the scenes work to make the workshop run smoothly both before and during the workshop. We would also like to thank all the speakers for donating their time, and Steve for donating the profit from his books on sale on the day to Bream Creek Community Market Garden and Landcare Tasmania. You are all so generous and so inspiring - great members of our Tassie community. Thank you to Orlando Plenty for making such tasty local food for our large group and being accommodating of our needs. And lastly thank you to many of the locals and participants who helped set up, pack up, find the light switches, brought quiches, brought a microphone, offered their Airbnb for Steve - all those beautiful gestures that make the Tasman community so tight-knit and special.
This event forms part of Landcare Tasmania’s Member Services, Outreach and Landscape Restoration Programs and is funded by the State Government’s Landcare Action Grants.
Photos by © Yasmin Mund