Clarence Valley




August - October 2018

Andrew with Peter H, part of the team at Compost Central, gave a presentation on converting organic waste to food to the Malabugilmah community, which is 3 hours west of Byron Bay on the Clarence River, during a waste program meeting with Elaine Toogood (N.E. Waste), Keith Bolton and Ross James (CEO of Jana Ngalee Aboriginal Land Council). The community was very enthusiastic and a month later, Compost Central team members Peter C, Kathryn and Andrew were heading out to set up personalised raised garden bed systems for several households.

While at the community, Andrew and Peter H had already taken note of several waste items that could find new life as raised garden beds, and so an old boat, a busted wading pool, a cracked water tank, were up-cycled together with some cut duraplast tanks into 7 raised garden beds.

Key to the project was community engagement. Everyone, including the children, learned in workshops: how to make compost buckets, build garden beds and plant vegetables. Auntie Carol, an elder of the community, was proud of the community coming together to complete this project, exclaiming that she “had not seen this type of community engagement in over 20+ years”.

Another part of engaging the community was a presentation for the kids at the local primary school where Andrew taught the importance building up the soil and composting giving answers to one child’s innocent, yet key question “what’s so special about soils?”.

To insure ongoing success of the project, Peter C made a first return visit three weeks later. Here he noticed:

  1. Community members had a sense of pride in their garden beds

  2. The community is making the connection between growing food and compost

  3. The garden bed systems were thriving

Also it was great to see that a young member of Auntie Carol’s household, Dane, who had been coached during the installation to oversee on-going maintenance had indeed been active in making site improvements. Lindsey, another member of the community, was a big help in Peter C’s return visit as they all worked together in the rain to improve the garden beds.

The on-going success of such projects requires a local champion to take ownership and be supported.

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