Eurobodalla – the Narooma Community Garden

Final Report – March 2012

As a result of our SOT involvement, the following has occurred:

1.      The Narooma Community Gardening association was formed

2.      The local public school offered the association land on which to develop a community garden

3.      That development is underway and the remarkable garden enclosure is visible from the ocean road and from the Narooma Golf Course

4.      The gardeners are gradually taking on the decision making with respect to what is planted and when it is harvested

5.      There has been a series of articles in the local press about the community garden

As a result of these changes, there is an increased community awareness of the potential for urban food production in Narooma and surrounds.

We don’t preach sustainability but we do talk about growing potatoes, recipes using kale, and ways of protecting crops from possums. Involvement of the school kids is currently limited to their bringing their lunch scraps to our compost bins and our taking our garden waste to their chooks. But it will grow, as will the amount and variety of produce we produce and our ability to share it with others.

Our beautiful geodesic garden enclosure (to keep out possums, footballs and birds) is visible from the Narooma golf course and I’m told that visitors ask what it is (and locals know the answer).

We are thinking of selling choko chutney at the Narooma Oyster Festival. Yes it’s controversial, but it might be a way to explain sustainability, gently dolloped on an oyster.

AGMs and chokos!

14 December 2011

This evening we held our first Annual General Meeting of the Narooma Community Garden. Now I’ve been to AGMs of political and business organisations and they usually consist of reports and more reports, followed by questions about income and expenditure and policy.

So I was a bit taken aback when the first questions at our AGM were about chokos. Are we growing them? Would there be enough to make choko chutney next year? Wouldn’t it be good to have choko chutney tastings at the next Narooma Oyster Festival and sell jars of it to bolster the finances? Talk then drifted to the best way to peel chokos, how important it is to harvest them when they’re small, and where else around town chokos might be found if we run short. Plans are now afoot to have choko chutney preparation and bottling get-togethers at the end of summer in time for the Oyster Festival in May.

This is of course the aim of a community garden – to share information, learn new skills and work together with friends. From a sustainability perspective the humble choko is an ideal food source. It has few pests and diseases and produces prolific crops. It can be eaten raw or boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried or pickled. Both the fruit and the seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C. Young shoots and leaves are used as vegetables in some Asian cuisines. Lastly it provides bulky waste material which can be chopped up for the compost or dried for mulch.

Makes me think that choko should be discussed at more AGMs.

20 September 2011

Geodesic garden enclosure

This is a photo of the amazingly beautiful geodesic garden enclosure that is emerging at the community garden.

Isn’t it wonderful!

Many thanks to Barry Sorrensen (who has done the design and is driving the project) and the volunteers.
Progress will continue next Sunday.

Regards
Carolyn

30 August 2011

Greetings! The Community Garden in the Narooma Primary School grounds is in production.

The bed that we were building and filling back in April has been producing leafy greens and broccoli over winter and we can’t harvest it fast enough. The legume bed is just starting to produce peas, and the third bed has onions, garlic, radishes and beetroot underway. The fourth bed is being prepared for the summer fruiting veg and the seedlings are appearing in the seed trays.

The orange plastic ‘fence’ is about to be replaced with a wood and wire garden enclosure to protect the harvest from possums, parrots and footballs. The holes for the supports were dug last Sunday and the white support posts in the photo will be concreted in next week. The temporary possums screens (recycled fly screens from the local tip) might just last long enough.

Possum exclusion screens around sugar peas

We’ve learnt a lot over the last 4 months, including that:

  • It’s possible to use too much mulch in a raised garden bed, especially if you get 110mm of rain and the soil gets water logged (but problem solved by adding sand)
  • Growing comfrey to add to the compost bins is EASY
  • A primary school’s winter lunch scraps consist of bread, apples and mandarin skins – and they make great compost if you add enough straw and comfrey leaves
  • Possums are messy eaters
  • A 4 bed rotating system reduces the need to debate what to plant in any one bed by 75%
  • Most people don’t know what to do with kale but they like Krispy Kale (see recipe below).

Krispy Kale

Ingredients:

Winter produce

Winter produce

  • 6-8 cups chopped fresh kale, hard stems removed
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt or sea salt

Preparation:

  1. Place a rack on the lowest shelf of your oven. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
  2. Spread kale out on a sturdy baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Toss to coat completely.
  3. Place on the lowest rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and stir so that kale can get crispy all over.
  5. Bake another 8 to 12 minutes or until kale is crispy. It should be just lightly browned and crispy to the touch. If kale still bends, rather than crackles, when you touch it, it isn’t done yet. Return it to the oven. Turn down the heat if it is getting too brown. Continue cooking until crispy.
  6. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.

Previous update of Eurobodalla Project

Thursday 28 April 2011

Greetings everyone, the Narooma District Community Gardens SOT project has had to adjust its project description.  It now reads:

“The Community Garden at the School Project will establish community gardening in the Narooma District, commencing with the community garden in the grounds of the Narooma Public School, where land has been made available for community food production in exchange for some involvement of the students.”

Our third working bee at the school will be held on 1st May (everyone is welcome). Some photos of previous working bees are below. We are also busy preparing for our stall at the Narooma Oyster Festival on 14/15 May where we will promote community gardening and hopefully find new gardeners, members and supporters.

Regards to all other community project members, Carolyn

Building raised bed at 13 March working bee

Layer 6: mulch. Layer 7: blood and bone

For more information on the project

Contact Carolyn Wells on 4476 2475 or email wells.carolyn@gmail.com

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