Let’s start a native gardener’s network!

Blog by Lisa

Geoff, Gabby and I are keen to start a native gardener’s network in our local area! We hope to:

  • get other native gardeners together for drinks in the garden
  • set up a buddy system, where experienced native gardeners can help people that are just getting started
  • arrange some walking tours with morning or arvo tea, where people can visit a few native gardens, speak to the owners and learn a few tips.

How to get in touch – be part of the beginning of our native gardener’s network

If you’d like to be part of our new native gardener’s network, please send us an email to ttmthawthorn@gmail.com –  we’d love to hear from you.

The City of Vincent can help you to change your verge to natives – FOR FREE!

They will dig up the lawn for you, apply high quality woodchips and give you 20 free native plants. Further information is available on the City of Vincent website, www.vincent.wa.gov.au/Services/Environment_Sustainability/Green_Initiatives/Adopt_a_Verge_program.

Let our native gardener’s network know if you would like help with planting, we may be able to find some keen volunteer planters!

Why go native?

We have a mix of local and WA natives in our garden. Purists go for 100% local natives but we just get too excited about the incredible diversity of natives in the whole of WA. We love native gardens because they:

  • provide habitat, food and shelter for local birds, native bees, butterflies and other wildlife (we like to show people our resident native bees!)
  • are adapted to the local soil types and climate, including drought conditions
  • require minimal watering, saving water and money
  • look great!

Do local native plants need water?

The following advice is provided by the Australian Native Nursery[1].

“Initially, yes you should water your new plants in well. For the first summer your new plants may have to be watered regularly, just keep your eye on the forecast and deep water once a week during long periods of low rainfall or high heat. Once established, they should be able to cope with just the local rainfall – just another great benefit of choosing a local native garden.”

Where can we buy local native plants?

It is best to plant natives in autumn or winter. Choose a nursery that is certified by the nursery industry association scheme Australia (NIASA), as they follow practices to ensure they do not spread Phythopthora dieback to your garden. Not all native nurseries are certified. Some certified native nurseries in Perth
include:

Where can I find more information on growing WA native plants? Further information on growing local native plants is available from the Wildflower Society of Western Australia, the Master Gardeners at Kings Park – they provide free advice on native gardening, and the Florabase website.

Our Transition Town Mt Hawthorn website is still being developed. It will soon have further info about going native (and a whole heap of other info about growing veges, the urban chicken network, compost and sustainable living).


[1] Australian Native Nursery 2014, Do I need to water native plants? Cited at <www.australiannativenursery.com.au/2014/05/19/watering-native-plants/>
on 27 August 2014.

Happy chickens – our quest to buy higher welfare eggs

by Lisa

Geoff and I are on a quest to choose higher welfare eggs. This is what we found out:

  • avoid the cage
  • think like a chicken
  • choose certified.

Avoid the cage

We avoid eggs laid by hens in cages. That bit is easy!

Think like a chicken

Chickens have natural behaviours, such as dust bathing, perching, stretching and flapping their wings and laying their eggs in private. Some choices may mean they are not able to use these behaviours or fulfil these natural instincts.

They naturally like to be free range… but we found there is more to it!

Choose certified

We found there is no legal definition of the term ‘free-range’ in Western Australia, so standards can vary dramatically.

Choose certified free range, organic, bio-dynamic or barn laid eggs, so you will be sure what you are buying. These eggs are produced, with no more than 1,500 hens per hectare (or no more than 2,500 hens per hectare in some circumstances).

The stocking densities could be a lot higher if the eggs are not certified (e.g. 20,000 hens per hectare!). We looked into this further – Choice has a campaign for better labelling.

Some local uncertified egg farms have sold cage eggs in free range egg cartons and they are being investigated by the ACCC1. We used to buy these “free range” eggs because they were local – but now we know better.

The word ‘organic’ on an egg carton can sometimes mislead people to think the welfare of hens meets certified organic standards – when it may only mean that hens in barns are fed organic grains. We are now really careful to avoid being misled and always check the certification.

Advice from Choice Magazine: “If you want to ensure that the free range eggs you buy meet your expectations:

  • look for certification logos and inform yourself about the free range standards behind the certifying bodies”… and
  • “check the packaging or producer websites of the eggs you buy for information about their standards.” 2

Some examples of certified free range, organic or barn laid eggs currently sold in Mt Hawthorn and Leederville are summarised in Table 1. The table does not include brands that also sell cage eggs.

Where can I find further information?

Choice explains the issues here.

The requirements of the certifying bodies are summarised by:

This fun You Tube video sums it up perfectly.

Conclusion

We avoid the cage, think like a chicken and choose certified to ensure we are buying higher welfare eggs. We are going to do this whenever we buy eggs.
Now stay tuned for news on our Urban Chicken Network. Another way to find higher welfare eggs is to care for the chickens at home – and they can use our food scraps too!

Notes

1. A recent example is the Swan Valley Egg Farm (Snowdale Holdings), which is not accredited and is being investigated by the ACCC. They also own Eggs by Ellah. See Swan Valley Egg Farm, ACCC Institutes proceedings against free range egg producers and ACCC crackdown on free range egg definition.

2. Choice 2014, Free range eggs. Cited on 27 August 2014.
Certified free range and barn laid eggs from Golden Egg Farms, Sunny Queen, McLean’s Run (owned by Sunny Queen), Pace and Kalbarri Eggs were ruled out because they also sell cage eggs. See Shop Ethical! and the Egg Corporation.

We decided to make a video

Well, actually, three videos. Or possibly four.

Let me back track.

A couple of meetings ago, Gabby and Lisa mentioned that they were going to visit some houses as part of Sustainable House Day, which is supported by the City of Vincent.

I got excited and asked them approach the owners to see if they would be willing to be interviewed about their houses.

Lo and behold, three owners said yes!

So, Gabby and I met to discuss how we are going to do get the videos done.

Celebrating the project’s kick-off meeting

Why?

We want to make the freely accessible online videos to inspire locals to build sustainability into their homes when they next build or renovate.

At least three City of Vincent locals have done it, so can the rest of us!

What?

These are some of the questions that will be posed to the home owners:

  • Why did you do it?
  • What were the challenges you faced?
  • How can we make it easier for people to adopt sustainability?
  • Would you do anything differently?

Do you have questions you want answered? Write them in the comments.

Help!

To make this awesomer, we need more hands on deck!

Can you:

  • write a catchy tune?
  • help on a video shoot?
  • operate a camera or microphone?
  • contribute the use of your camera or microphone?
  • write blogs around sustainable housing issues?
  • help coordinate the videoshoots?
  • brew a cup of tea to keep the video team going?

Basically, if you want help out in any way, please let me know: ttmthawthorn@gmail.com

Update

Read about progress since the initial meeting.

Transforming my verge

My verge alternated between dry sandy desert (besides the few hardy weeds that manage to eke out an existence) in summer and a lush meadow of onion weed in winter.


Fed up with the situation, I ordered a free load of mulch from MulchNet and they certainly delivered (both literally and figuratively).  I was very amused to return home one day to discover a mountain of mulch on the verge.

As an aside, the amazing thing about the mountain was that it transformed into a “volcano” the very next day!

The large volume of the pile, the fact that the plant material was in small chips and the natural microbes and fungi meant that it started composting.  The cool weather meant that there was a distinct plume of “smoke” (water vapour) emitting from the top of the pile!  The thermometer read a toasty 38oC just under the surface of the pile.

After spreading half of the mulch pile in a thick layer over the verge (family, neighbours and the rest of my garden took up the other half), the verge project basically ended – the weeds were smothered and I had other things to do.

And so, the woodchips have been decomposing over the past year.

Until recently, when fellow Transition Town Mt Hawthorn member Lisa inspired me to progress the verge.

Lisa had transformed her own verge with the aid City of Vincent’s of the “Adopt a verge” program.  She also told me about a local native plant sale (also run by City of Vincent).  With Lisa’s (who was a working volunteer at the plant sale) and my 2 year old son’s help, we picked seventeen tube stocks for $1 each.


Armed with a shovel, I transformed my nice flat bed of mulch into a cratered moon-like landscape.


Happy with the new look, I put the baby plants into their new homes and gave them a drink of water. (The craters do have a purpose – they act as a well to funnel water to the young plant. However, they also funnel leaves that I’ve been picking out so that the little plants aren’t smothered).

The horticulturist at the plant sale said to give them two drinks in the first week, followed by a drink a week for the next month.  I think I will give the plants a drink a week until next winter, just to help them establish over the summer.


These are my objectives for planting natives:

  1. Low maintenance beauty, and
  2. Food source and shelter for birds and insects (which will hopefully benefit my productive garden).

I hope all the plants will survive but will be happy with a 50% mortality rate.  Hopefully, in two years time, there will be some lush bushes with birds and butterflies harbouring in my verge.

I will blog about this again in a few months time to show how it’s going

More tips for July

The movie night was a big success. We had about 40 people attending, good conversations, excellent food,  and got to know each other a bit better. We’ll write a proper review and put some photos up too. Excellent experience in community building and lots of fun too.

Today we would like to share some good tips that allow you to make simple but significant changes in your life today with our cost, just by showing commitment. You can still sign up for Plastic Free July. Also, check out the Useful Book from Mindarie Regional Council for excellent ideas. It’s available here.

Two tips deserve a special mention today

1. Cleaning with natural products
You are missing an important step to good health
if you continued to use toxic chemicals to clean your house. Chemicals
used to clean our windows, floors, furniture, carpets, and clothing are
tampering with our bodies. Even our babies’ bottles can be full of
chemicals that are known carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disruptors. 6 alternative cleaning products in your house can create the same results with a bit of elbow grease: baking soda, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and olive oil. Sugar soap is another good one.
Read more at http://higherperspective.com/2014/07/clean-whole-house-6-inexpensive-items-nasty-chemicals.html#2W36fd52Rbekzr0p.99

2. Cycle in a skirt or ‘penny in yo pants’

Our last suggestion today related to getting more people on bikes. Especially women find their dress choice limited when wanting to go out by bike. This simple solution allows you to cycle in a skirt with the help of a coin and a rubber band..

Join us in our exciting transition journey. Make small changes to the better all the time and just do it. Also please tell your friends and forward this blog to them, so they can sign up on our website.

Preparing for Plastic Free July and events in June

Transition Town Mount Hawthorn is excited about having received an environment grant from the City of Vincent. We want to reduce waste in the City by printing and distributing ‘No Junk Mail’ stickers to local letter boxes with the aim of less advertising material to fill our bins. A big thank you to the City of Vincent. Also watch this space for an update about the project.

Our next event will be on Thursday 3 July. We will show the movie Bag It during Plastic Free July. The challenge for Plastic Free July is to not use any single use plastic during the month of July. Find out more here http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/. Please watch this video to get you inspired.
This is a hard challenge, but not as hard as you may think. Discuss the challenge with your family and come on board. Transition Town Mount Hawthorn has already signed up and there will be more posts around this subject. Transition Town Guildford ran a similar project in 2012.

We are currently working on developing a digital strategy.  If you would like to become involved and have special skills which might be useful, please contact us at ttmhawthorn@gmail.com.

What’s Happening in Mt Hawthorn in June?

Sunday 8 June: The Mt Hawthorn Hub will be
at Auskick at Menzies Park from 9-11am running an engagement session for the community. We encourage all mount Hawthorn residents to attend and have your say.

Find details of other events in the City of Vincent here: http://www.vincent.wa.gov.au/Your_Community/Whats_On?dd_Event%20Type=Events

May is Compost Month – more events

The movie night for the film DIRT! was a big success.We had more than 30 adults and children attend and the format worked well. Behrooz opened the night with an acknowledgement of country in Noongar language.

We then set the scene with a compost quiz. The questions were developed and answers provided by Barb Frey from Transition Town Guildford.

The content of the quiz went into how much food waste a chook could eat (up to 150kg per year), whether you need special equipment for composting (no) and how long an earth worm lives (on average 2 years, but up to 6). It was fun. Winner of the quiz was Lisa. Her price was a pot plant which she kindly donated to another participant for use at her kindergarten. Most of us went home invigorated and inspired, keen to try composting at our own place.

If you missed the full movie, attend the next screening of DIRT! by Transition Town Victoria Park. It’s on Monday 26 May at the East Victoria Park Art Centre, more details here.

If you want to learn more about composting please participate at the upcoming events by the Mindarie Regional Council. Learn about composting on Sunday 25 May 2014 at the East Perth Community Garden from 10-12noon. More details here:

Interesting next events are as follows:

  • Friday 23 May, closing date for comments to the City of Vincent Bike Network Plan, Vincent/Bulwer St Section. More info here.
  • Saturday 24 May, from 10:30-12noon – Kitchen Gardener Action Group: Sharing Knowledge about compost, soil and seedlings. Location: 148 Anzac Road, Mt Hawthorn. Please RSVP to Irma 0466 640 455.
  • Sunday 25 May, from 1:30-4pm, Compost Street Party (with compost cake)- displays and on location demos, at 26 Blencowe St, West Leederville. No RSVP required. More info on flyer here. This event is organised by the Mindarie Regional Council.
  • Monday 26 May, from  6:30 for 7pm start, Movie DIRT, screening at Victoria Park Art Centre, 12 Kent Street, East Vic Park, organised by Transition Town Victoria Park Network.
  • Thursday  29 May, from 4:30-6pm – Organic Waste Action Group: Worm Farming 101. Location: Joondanna Community Food Garden, corner of Wade Street and Stoneham Street, Joondanna. Please RSVP to Kim 0458 202 270.
  • Friday 30 May, commencement of community consultation to City of Vincent Bike Network Plan, Oxford St/Scarborough Beach Rd Section.  Ends on 20 June. More info here.
  • Saturday 31 May and Sunday 1 June, Yarns of the Heart – Noongar Doll Making Workshop at the Bodhi Tree, corner Oxford St and Scarborough Beach Road, Mt Hawthorn from 11-3pm, light lunch and refreshments provided. Get in quickly, only 20 places. Free event. RSVP required. Organised by City of Vincent. More info here.

Plans for 2014

Our first event was an informal pop-up movie night in late March at a lane near Kalgoorlie Street which was attended by about 30 people, including a dozen children. All participants brought their own chairs but the best spots on two mattresses in front of the screen were occupied quickly by the younger folks, who even made some popcorn for the event.

The movie Bag It was well received. In this touching and often flat-out-funny film, we followed “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world. What starts as a film about plastic bags evolves into a wholesale investigation into plastic and its effect on our waterways, oceans, and even our own bodies. We see how our crazy for plastic world has finally caught up to us and what we can do about it. Today. Right now.

The film was actually quite devastating but ended with an uplifting, inspiring touch. The film affirmed out commitment: we will create less waste and no longer accept the use of one way thin plastics.

At our last meeting we spoke about possible projects and plans for 2014 which can be summarised as follows to guide our future activities:

  1. Skill share – learning to do things from within the community, such as learn to sow and mend clothes, make bread and joghurt, sharing expertise in the group for Mt Hawthorn residents
  2. Urban food and produce share –  sharing excess produce with neighbours, local trading of vegetables and fruit, growing food, sharing tips about soil improvement, seed sharing, information about permaculture, waste reduction, composting, green waste, establishing a community garden, aquaponic, bulk container farming, worm farms,
  3. Improve local environment –  sustainable streetscapes, native verges, public verges as model gardens, improving space for local fauna, such as tadpoles,  frogs
  4. Waste –  reduction,  upcycle, recycle, reduce rubbish, organic waste to fertiliser, to print and sistribute more stickers ‘ no advertising materials’
  5. Green community events –  movie nights, games afternoons, involve the whole family, street parties, bringing local people together, fostering a sense of community, pop-up movie nights
  6. Urban Chook Network that connects chicken owners with food scrap producers.

Good ideas raised at this and previous meetings:

  • to create a google map with Mt Hawthorn points of interest including fruit trees on street, labels for points of interests, use of liquid nails, possible basis for urban orienteering, eco-caching;
  • to establish a community garden at Anzac Cottage;
  • to hang baskets with excess produce off street trees. This would be a simple way to trade local produce between neighbours on an honours basis;
  • to erect a notice board in Mt Hawthorn that contains information about TT Mt Hawthorn, upcoming events and background info. This aims to connect people without internet, such as the elderly; and
  • to find out what other community groups are active in Mt Hawthorn.

 Good links:

Transition Town Mount Hawthorn will pursue these ideas through action groups, grant applications and collaboration. Please get in touch if you are interested.

The next meeting is proposed for Sunday 13 April from 6pm at 36 Matlock Street in Mt Hawthorn.
Please rsvp to ttmhawthorn@gmail.com.

Sharing good ideas

Transition Town Mt Hawthorn is part of a bigger network of Transition Towns (TT) around the world http://www.transitionnetwork.org and as well in Western Australia. On 1 April we enjoyed meeting representatives from other transition town movements in the metropolitan area, sharing stories about our journey and inspiring each other with ideas and experiences.

The Transition Town movement is growing stronger in WA every day. Check out the TT Guildford website for contact details of the TT groups in WA, including Mundaring, Kwinana, Stirling, Victoria Park, Guildford and Mt Hawthorn.
During the meeting we enjoyed vegetarian food at Annalakshmi, overlooking the beautiful Swan River.

Sharing good ideas and simple tricks that can easily be implemented in your daily life right away is one of the ways how transition two movements make a difference. Today we would like to share a simple but compelling proposal to reduce food waste in your fridge.

Pop Up movie night (27 March) and other events

Our first Pop-Up Movie will be shown today on 27 March, from 6:30 at the lane east off 36  Matlock Street  in Mt Hawthorn. Bring your own chairs and excess produce from your garden if you have any. Great movie about plastic that documents the journey of one guy who made a difference in his local community. View the trailer here.

Upcoming events:

The next City of Vincent
Local Native Plant Sale will be on Sat 19 April from 8am to 11am, at the City of Vincent Leederville Administration Centre. http://www.vincent.wa.gov.au/Your_Community/Whats_On/Events/Events_2013/Local_Native_Plant_Sale

The City of Vincent is also running the
Adopt a Verge Program where they perform the earthworks, supply
and spread the mulch and give a voucher for twenty local native plants
to people who want to change their verge to local natives. I can send
our application to anyone who wants to use it
as a template.

http://www.vincent.wa.gov.au/Services/Environment_Sustainability/Green_Initiatives/Adopt_a_Verge_program

The next Kings Park Native Plants Sale is on 18 May.

http://friendsofkingspark.com/component/eventlist/details/9-autumn-native-plant-sale?Itemid=101

We hope to see you tonight.