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Chickens are perfect for a permaculture garden.  These lovely hens provide eggs , eat scraps, clean up weeds, as well as keeping garden pests in control.  They also provide manure.

Chickens are perfect for a permaculture garden. These lovely hens provide eggs , eat scraps, clean up weeds, produce manure & keep garden pests in control. They are nice pets as well.

With the huge increase in interest in sustainability, verge gardens, community gardens & permaculture, I am sure there are many who would be interested in an online resource such as this.

‘Introduction to Permaculture’ is 38 video lectures – a total of 40-hours – available online to download for free from Permaculture Media Download.  Each video stands alone, so you can learn at your own pace.  There are other resources such as free e-books here as well.

You can find the links to each video here – http://bit.ly/13vLeQf

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Showing the corner of the Bushpocket in Victoria Road where the cycleway is to be built.  You can get some idea of the width of the current cycle lanes.

Showing the corner of the Bushpocket in Victoria Road where the cycleway is to be built. You can get some idea of the width of the current cycle lanes.  Ausgrid will need to relocate the telegraph pole.

Yesterday (24th April) I attended the public meeting held by Marrickville Council to discuss their recent works that demolished the bio-swale at the Victoria Road Bushpocket site in Marrickville.

To recap: on 21st March 2013 I saw heavy machinery removing the boulders that made up the swale.  On 28th March 2013 I posted about the swale, which was gone leaving bare dirt, a telegraph pole in the new road section & sprayed markings that looked like a path.  I heard that the Council works were to create a cycleway.  See – http://bit.ly/XDgLlz

Several senior Council staff attended the meeting.  It was explained that Council had made a mistake & there had been poor communication between departments regarding the swale at the Bushpocket site & the building of a cycleway.  Council apologized unreservedly for this, saying they would work to improve communication across departments.

It was explained that the cycleway works in this location are part of the Camperdown to Cooks River Cycle Route. Specifically, the road was widened here to assist heavy vehicles to navigate the corner.

Where previously cyclists used the lane either side of Victoria Road, the new cycleway will instead put cyclists in one lane as a separated two-direction kerbed barrier cycleway located on the roadside next to the Bushpocket.  The width of the two-way cycleway will be 2.52 metres.  To claim roadway for the cycleway, the swale was demolished.

Marrickville Council said they intend to replace the swale & handed out plans dated April 2013.  Council were unsure of the costs to do this work.

There was concern from one of the residents who specializes in bio-swales that the plans for the swale would not work as the space was insufficient.  Council invited this resident to participate in further planning of the swale.

Council also emailed the residents the plans for the cycleway in this section of Victoria Road & Myrtle Street.  We were told that side from bringing cyclists from both directions onto the same side of the road, the cycleway will direct cyclists to cross to the other side of the road in Myrtle Street.   This explains the path to nowhere & appears to save the street trees on the eastern side of Myrtle Street.  However, this direction to cross the road in Myrtle Street is not on the plans.  See below.

You can download the plans for the cycleway here, though be warned, I found it impossible to read the writing on the plans on my computer or on a printed copy.  The cycleway route however is easily seen. – – http://bit.ly/ZmsG7b

The plans for the swale can be downloaded here – http://bit.ly/11muRpk

As a cyclist, I can’t say that I felt I needed protection in this section of Victoria Road. Both kerbside lanes used by cyclists were around the width of a normal traffic lane & it was rare to see a parked car so it was a roomy ride for me.  It was explained that all that has been lost was the mound of earth on the roadside of the swale. That mound however, was a significant size & part of the Bushpocket where plants grew.

I thank Marrickville Council for responding to the complaint about this issue and holding the meeting.  It was obvious that they wanted the best outcome for everyone.

The bitumen area is where the swale & planted area around the swale used to be.  Cyclists will soon have a dual cycleway here that goes onto the footpath under the bridge.

The bitumen area is reclaimed land from the Bushpocket. Cyclists will soon have a dual cycleway here that goes onto the footpath under the bridge.

The bitumen shows where the swale & surrounding plants used to be.  The dirt area is where the new swale is to be constructed.

The bitumen shows where the swale & surrounding plants used to be. The dirt area is where the new swale is to be constructed.

Marrickville Council's plans for the cycleway in Victoria Road & Myrtle Street Marrickville with my additions in colour. We were told that the 2-way cycleway would actually cross the road in Myrtle Street, but this does not show on these plans.  Click to enlarge.

Marrickville Council’s plans for the cycleway in Victoria Road & Myrtle Street Marrickville with my additions in colour. We were told that the 2-way cycleway would actually cross the road in Myrtle Street, but this does not show on these plans. Click to enlarge.

 

 

Showing the current stage of work.  The bitumen area, which was once a bioswale is now to be a bike path.

Showing the current stage of work. The bitumen area, which was once a bioswale is now to be a bike path.  The photo shows about half the area.

Marrickville Council is holding a meeting regarding the bioswale at the Bushpocket site on Victoria Road Marrickville.   Anyone who is interested is invited to attend.

  • Wednesday 24th April 2013 at 8am. Meet at the site.   Map below.

I last wrote about the swale here – http://bit.ly/XDgLlz

The red arrow shows the location of the Bushpocket & the meeting.

The red arrow shows the location of the meeting.

This is the Victoria Road Marrickville swale just after it was created in December 2009.  Once the plants grew it changed considerably.

This is the Victoria Road Marrickville swale just after it was created in December 2009. Once the plants grew it changed considerably.

This is how the Victoria Road Bushpocket swale looked like late in the day on the 21st March 2013.

This is how the Victoria Road Bushpocket swale looked like late in the day on the 21st March 2013.

On 21st March 2013 I drove down Victoria Road Marrickville & saw earth-moving equipment with Marrickville Council workers digging up the swale on the bushpocket site.  I returned at the end of the day specifically to have a close look.  The swale had been totally removed & what was left in its place was a large hole, a flattened area that looked suspiciously like a footpath & paint markings on the dirt also looking like the outline of a footpath.

As Marrickville Council have recently built what I call ‘a footpath to nowhere’ under the railway bridge & around the curve of Victoria Road to Myrtle Street, I assumed the swale was destroyed for an extension of this footpath.

The ‘footpath to nowhere’ ends in Myrtle Street where street trees start.  To continue the footpath three good-sized street trees planted around 8 to 10-years-ago will probably need to be removed.  That is unless Council make the footpath thinner in this area, but I doubt they will because the rest of it is wide & they tend to like wide paths.

There is a footpath on the opposite side of both Victoria Road & Myrtle Street so pedestrians are okay.  There has never been a footpath on the other side of this section of Victoria Road that I am aware of.  The area is located beside the goods line & coupled with the hill, made an excellent site for a swale & a bushpocket.  There are also 3-4 large mature trees here that screen the railway line.

The swale is a major part of the Victoria Road Bushpocket site.  It was built by Marrickville Council in 2009 as part of a community environmental initiative led by local resident Micheal Easton & supported by other local residents.  The residents met regularly to plant, weed & clean the bushpocket site. Together they transformed it from a relatively empty, verging on an unsightly litter-attracting patch of land to something that was green, functional & quite lovely.

Council even installed a park bench placed under the shade of a tree.  The pathways were loose gravel & it was nice to walk here & have a look to see what was in flower at the time.  In March 2011, the project was handed back to Marrickville Council who said they would continue to manage the bushpocket.

Apparently the swale has been destroyed to accommodate a bicycle path.  As a cyclist, I think a bike paths are very important & much needed.  I question however, with this section of Victoria Road being so wide & already a Council designated on-road cycle route, why Council would need to destroy a swale that was part of local stormwater management & important for biodiversity.  The swale was built in this location to capture & clean stormwater before it entered the Cooks River, less than a kilometer away.

Something else to consider is that the bushpocket was thriving & great for biodiversity & habitat creation.  Now we will have yet more concrete.

If it costs Council $1,000 to plant a sapling, imagine how much the Bushpocket & swale cost to create & manage & how much it cost to remove it.

Will this area be concreted?

Will this area be concreted?  

Showing Myrtle Street, the new footpath & the curve of the road going under the railway line.

Showing Myrtle Street, the new footpath that stops because trees are in the way.  The outside lanes are marked with bicycle symbols.

 

 

 

 

 

Free workshop on converting grass to a verge garden happening at Marrickville Library.  Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I was stunned when I first saw the size of this verge garden in Greenbank Street. You can see the original verge garden on the far left.

I was stunned when I first saw the size of this verge garden in Greenbank Street. You can see the original verge garden on the far left.  What a difference a verge garden makes.  It softens the streetscape & adds beauty.

I was taken to see another verge garden in Greenbank Street Marrickville recently.  It appears to have been organized by two houses, but it may be that the one house organized it & the other house didn’t mind their neighbour making improvements in front of their place.

Whatever the details, this verge is really special & shows just what can be done.  They have obviously paid for Marrickville Council to remove the concrete. Three verge gardens have been created – two of around 5-metres each long & another of around 2.5-metres & they span two adjoining properties.  Concrete has been left roadside for car doors & there is a path between each garden for pedestrians.

Verge garden close-up

Verge garden close-up

The garden beds have been planted with a mix of natives & ornamentals & covered with mulch.  Except for the occasional weeding, it looks like that these verge gardens will pretty much look after themselves.

Around the corner in a nameless lane (at least on Google maps), the residents have planted a row of Lilly Pillies in the small space between the house & the kerb & covered the visible soil with mulch.  These places traditionally look not so good as they collect weeds & litter, but these residents have demonstrated that such a difficult place can look very attractive.  Lilly Pillies can be pruned to form a hedge & I expect this is what is planned.   The Lilly Pillies have the added benefit of preventing graffiti tags on what is a vulnerable wall because of its location.

Lilly Pillies adding greenery in a difficult space in the laneway.  This looks great now & will look even better once they have grown.

Lilly Pillies adding greenery in a difficult space in the laneway. This looks great now & will look even better once they have grown.

Further down the land is the entrance to another property, which is bordered by small native trees & the back fence is covered with a vine.

The residents on one side of Greenbank Street have planted around almost every street tree & it looks nice.  It’s when you come to the larger verge gardens & the lane way that you see the potential many of us have to radically improve our streetscape.

It doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive either.  If you can encourage a good number of residents in a street to embrace verge gardens & become a Sustainable Street, you can apply to Council to come & depave for you as happened in Lincoln Street recently. See –  http://bit.ly/YpZmrH  Council might even throw in some plants.

If it’s just you, then there is a cost involved for Council to depave, but they do all the work like check for hidden infrastructure & take away the concrete, which saves you effort & skip fees.

Very cheap plants suitable for verge gardens can be sourced at Marrickville Council Nursery – native tube stock only – http://bit.ly/ZhY4kS

Randwick City Council Nursery – established plants – both native & non-native – http://bit.ly/SnKwUo

& Rockdale Council Nursery – established plants – both native & non-native –  http://bit.ly/SVe4ai

If you find yourself near Greenbank Street, I think it’s worthwhile to stop & have a look at these verge gardens as well as a look in the laneway.  I say this because good gardens & less hard surfaces changes the way an area feels & it is good to feel this whenever you can.  You may not like some of the plants, but that’s the beauty of a verge garden – as long as it doesn’t become as hazard to cars or pedestrians, you can plant what you like.  I think they have done something wonderful & inspiring.

This view shows the concrete left on the side of the kerb.   Imagine streets that looked green like this instead of harsh concrete expanses.

This view shows the concrete strip beside the kerb. Imagine streets that looked green like this, instead of harsh concrete expanses.

The laneway is transformed on this side & clearly shows how even suh difficult sites can be made beautiful as well as useful for wildlife.

The laneway is transformed on this side & clearly shows how even such difficult sites can be made beautiful, as well as useful for wildlife.

 

I saw the new verge garden a week ago.  It is impressively long while still giving plenty of room for pedestrians.

I saw the work on the new verge garden a week ago. It is impressively long while still giving plenty of room for pedestrians.

I was told I must go to see recent Council works on Grove Street Marrickville.  When I got there I could understand my friend’s enthusiasm.    People do get enthusiastic about verge gardens in this municipality.  To me it demonstrates that the acceptance of concrete is waning.

Marrickville Council have removed & replaced the concrete in front of two houses in Grove Street.  I presume the roots of the street tree had damaged the concrete footpath.  So instead of resurfacing the whole area with concrete, Council went all out & left a much bigger than usual space for a verge garden.

The residents had previously planted flowers around the street tree, so I imagine they will add more to whatever Council plants.  This will further improve the streetscape & add value to the properties close to it.  I hope that whenever Marrickville Council gets a chance, they will make larger verge gardens like this one.  It is better for the trees, better for stormwater management & it also adds beauty while still allowing people, prams & wheelchairs to travel safely.

While smaller roots were chopped, Council took great care around this root when building the kerb.

Council took great care around this root when building the kerb.

This is how the new verge garden looked today.  I imagine this will be quite beautiful once it is full of plants.

This is how the new verge garden looked today. I imagine this will be quite beautiful once it is full of plants.

 

golden-flower-photo-by-Saving-Our-Trees

Early November 2012 I posted about a small verge garden in Waverley that had been given an eviction order by Waverley Council.  See – http://bit.ly/QlTNfX

Five years ago Nicolette Boaz planted a verge garden on her adjoining neighbour’s side nature strip on Simpson Street Waverley.  According to the interview in the Wentworth Courier, she said the verge, “wasn’t being used & resembled a sandy wasteland.”

Unfortunately I forgot to post a link to the newspaper article that had a photo of the verge garden until later after this was brought to my attention.  So here it is – http://bit.ly/SUeCh0   It is worth having a look as a picture tells more than words can.

Today Nicolette Boaz the creator of the verge garden left a comment on SoT.  She wrote, The Council has since hurriedly backed down- muttering’ er- review of verge gardens – um — is in order. They were stunned by the outcry which appears to have gone international. Not bad for a tiny little footpath garden.  Well done for noticing everyone!”

I love a good news story.  Well done Waverley Council for recognizing that our city needs as many well kept verge gardens as we can have to lower the urban heat island effect & add beauty to our streetscapes.  That Ms Boaz grows food that she generously shares with the community is an added benefit.  Congratulations to Ms Boaz for choosing to fight the eviction.

These verge gardens must have been created by Marrickville Coucil as they continue the length of this Marrickville street.  It looks great & feel even better to be amongst greenery as you walk along the street.

These verge gardens must have been created by Marrickville Council as they continue the length of this Marrickville street.  The streetscape looks great & it feels even better to be amongst greenery as you walk along the street.

FIVE YEARS AGO Nicolette Boaz planted a verge garden on her adjoining neighbour’s side nature strip on Simpson Street Waverley.  According to the interview in the Wentworth Courier, she said the verge, “wasn’t being used & resembled a “sandy wasteland.”

So she planted veggies & herbs & allowed anyone to take what they wanted.  As what tends to happen with verge gardens, people came & told her how great the garden looked – because verge gardens improve the streetscape.

Two weeks ago Ms Boaz received an order from Waverley Council to remove the verge garden because she did not get approval.

“The neighbour must give consent.  In this case, the neighbour has complained & brought the matter to council’s attention requesting removal of the garden.”

This is a wide verge with a small garden planted.  The garden has been here for 5-years.  It brings beauty to the street.  It doesn’t appear to obstruct anyone’s use of the land, including the person who complained.

Obviously, if people started planting trees in front of other people’s homes without permission it may be a problem.  Same if they decided to hold a garage sale on someone else’s verge it may be a problem.  But a small veggie patch & to insist that it be removed?  I find this very sad.

Ms Boaz was doing something that was beneficial to the community on public land & the community was responding positively.  What hope do we have for the future with this idea that the area outside one’s land is also theirs to do with what they wish, even if it is to leave it as a sandy wasteland?

“Ms Boaz said it was important to keep community gardens. “(It’s) not just for me … It represents a way that I think we’ll all have to head towards, otherwise we’ll be in crisis.”  

To read the article & see a photo of the verge garden – http://bit.ly/SUeCh0

There are actually tons of spaces around Marrickville LGA where vegetables could be grown. The space doesn’t even need to be big for it to be productive & add beauty to the streetscape.

I found a wonderful TED video of a talk by Pam Warhurst from Todmorden England.  Ms Warhurst & a group of friends decided to start a social movement, which they called, ‘Incredible Edible’ & do this bypassing bureaucracy, which they felt would hold them back.  The plan was to grow food locally by planting on unused land throughout the community – so they just did it.

The group asked themselves, “can you find a unifying language that cuts across, age, income & culture that will help people themselves find a new way of living, see spaces around them differently, think about the resources around them differently, interact differently? Can we find that language & then can we replicate those actions?  The answer would appear to be yes & the language would appear to be food.”

There was no consulting & no submission writing. They simply organised a community meeting & from this ‘Incredible Edible’ was born. And they “did it all without a flipping strategy document, no permission & not waiting for a cheque to start. None of this demands bureaucracy or takes more money.”

Their motto is  – “If You Eat – You’re In.”  You can’t get more inclusive than this.

The movement went well beyond verge gardening outside your own property.  They approached businesses & local services asking to be able to garden their land that was often planted with useless & often prickly plants. The businesses said yes & so the people moved in, removed existing plants or weeds & planted the area with food.  They made it look good by bringing in artistic people (not just artists) to design the area so that the streetscapes looked better.

“Food is popping up all over the place.  They call it ‘Propaganda Gardening.’  Vegetables are planted in people’s front gardens, in the corner of a car park & in front of the Police Station & in the cemetery.  People are visiting from all over the world to look.”

More people became involved so they involved all the local schools. They set up a Board of Management & allowed children to be decision-makers on the Board.  They set up a market garden training centre.  The local university/TAFE took it further by designing a local horticulture course.  Suddenly, this movement was helping people to get training & jobs.

“People want positive actions they can take. They want more kindness towards each other & the environment.”  She used terms like, “educate & inspire……sharing…..investing in kindness……increasing public spiritedness.”

The people designed the ‘Incredible Edible Route’ to take tourists through the town to all the verge gardens.  They took it a step further & connected the route with all the local food producers & promoted their products.

Locals started buying local & making new local products.  64 local products are now on the ‘Incredible Edible Route’ & 49% of local producers said their profit had increased as a result of this movement.  That’s 49% more business than before, all from gardening the verges & other wasted spaces.

The ‘Incredible Edible’ movement is spreading with more than 30 towns in England doing their own verge gardening & cities like Christchurch in New Zealand coming to learn how they can start this as part of their rebuild post-earthquakes.

I find this incredibly inspiring & think it would be quite easy to do in Marrickville LGA.  People are already verge gardening.  Wilga Avenue in Dulwich Hill has most of the street involved & received a major award for it.  Community gardens are popping up here & there & quite a few people do spontaneous guerilla gardening to try & improve their immediate streetscape.

We can’t wait for Marrickville Council to do it, nor is it in our best interest to let the vandals & thieves make it so we are left living in ugliness; not when propagating is so cheap & easy.  We can all benefit from sharing plants, energy & knowledge & we will certainly benefit from better-looking, greener streetscapes.

I know of one woman in her late 60s who is a guerilla gardener. She has created two beautiful spaces on public land & the whole community benefits.  Visit her & she will offer food freshly picked in front of you or eggs still warm from her hen house.

Spare land should be used for community gardens. I am not the only one frustrated at looking at all the Railcorp land that just sits there to be slashed or mown once a year.  These areas could be transformed into community gardens or orchards.  Nothing ever happens on them anyway.  If in a decade’s time Railcorp does want the land to use for something, then we would just have to move on.  Railcorp would benefit hugely with the positive publicity from allowing the community to use certain spaces & train travelers would have something great to look at instead of the desolation that they see out the window.

Edible landscapes could be in all sorts of places, big or small.  Gardeners could rove between sites or stay with the one that most interests them.  Food should be shared with anyone who wants it.  It’s working at the verge gardens of Chippendale. Sometimes someone comes & takes everything, but on the whole, produce is shared.

Ms Warhurst says, edible landscapes are about “building a different & kinder future.”  I believe this.  I also want this.

You can watch this inspiring talk here – http://www.ted.com/talks/pam_warhurst_how_we_can_eat_our_landscapes.html

This area off Illawarra Road Marrickville is a great example of public land that is wasted. No-one uses it & Council mows the grass when needed. It could easily be transformed into a vegetable garden. Small suitable plants could also be grown at the side of the pathway as well. There are many places like this across the municipality just waiting to be transformed into something lovely & useful.

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