Permablitz #207 – Flemington
Saturday the 16th of June saw Permablitz back at Farnham St Community House working to complete the community garden. We learnt about the local community and got stuck into upgrading the garden – learning how to install wicking beds in the process.
Farnham Neighbourhood Learning Centre is a great initiative. As well as providing a range of other classes for the community, they run healthy cooking classes that utilise products grown in the community garden out back. Unfortunately, the huge gum tree in the middle of the plot sucks up most of the moisture and nutrients. Luckily the amazing Pip managed to source a grant to install Modbox wicking beds. The addition of these raised wicking beds allowed the site to be accessible for people with limited mobility, while solving the hungry gum conundrum.
The solvers of these permie problems were none other than Joanne Nataprawira and Dylan Newell, co-founders of The Desert Echo. Dylan grew up in the neighbourhood and they both believe strongly in the permaculture principles and helping the local community grow.
Two weeks earlier there had been a blitz on the site, clearing the grounds and setting up the first of the beds. We arrived on a clear but chilly morning to try and finish the wicking bed installation. For those who want to read about our first blitz check out the article here.
Our main task was to install the Modbox wicking beds. This is a modular system of raised garden beds, with a water reservoir beneath the soil to minimise watering and weeding. Here’s how we installed ours:
We started the day with an intro from Pat. There was a good mix of first time blizers, old hands and local faces, around 27 in all. Those who had been at the last blitz set about building the smaller central bed as a demonstration. This went fine at first but then disaster struck when we put a board in the wrong way around, leaving us without a needed recess. Dylan came to the rescue with some quick ingenuity, creating a plug to guide the drill and creating a recess on the outside, thus saving us the drama of trying to take the whole bed apart. Lesson learned!
We broke for morning tea and again for an amazing lunch spread put on by the community house. (Let’s face it – we’re all in it for the snacks!)
After lunch we returned back out into the cold. By then we had the system down though, each with our little specialties and working amazingly as a team, all the more impressive considering we had only met that morning.
The only other problem we ran into was trying to put the metal rebar stake through a concrete pad. After a bit of pondering we decided not to do that! The solution was to move the whole bed over slightly to eliminate the problem, while still allowing access for an electric wheelchair to manoeuvre around the beds.
We pushed through to the very end getting all the beds constructed but running out of gravel to fill them with. The day ended in a race against the rain, bringing all the soil in to finish off as many beds as possible.
The space was transformed by the end , with 10 new wicking beds that will now provide food for the community for 50 plus years to come.
A big thank you to the team from Farnham Community House, Jo and Dylan from Desert Echo, and all the volunteers past and present who have helped this community space come together. I hope to see many more projects like this around Melbourne.