IN YOUR PATCH
Myfanwy with carrots and beetroots she’s grown in her garden.
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DESIGN AND BUILD AN ECO-CUBBY
Words and photo by Morag Gamble
Building your own cubby – using things found in nature or your garden or scavenged from waste – is immensely satisfying. Depending on where you live, and the materials you can find, your cubby is going to look wonderfully distinctive: there are always different materials to find, and new designs to try out. Experiment – build a little one or a whole village!
You can try this in your yard, in a neighbourhood park, at a school or community garden, while you’re on a camping holiday or a bushwalk.
Keep it simple and do it with your friends – it’s a great group project. Most eco-cubbies last for at least a day or even a week; some are robust and last for years.
What makes eco-cubbies different from shop-bought ones is that you are the designer and builder; your local environment shapes design and material choices. Here some tips to help you get started.
Imagine how you’d like your cubby to be, including as many eco-features as possible (e.g. ‘solar panels’, water tanks, gardens). Draw up your ideas, and write down the features and materials needed:
- think about where to put the door – away from the wind, toward the morning sun?
- consider whether the roof is at a good angle for ‘solar panels’
- think about how to create good cross-ventilation and natural light.
Find a good spot to meet your design criteria, and perhaps where you could leave it up for a while.
Look for things to use:
- structural elements (big sticks, logs, driftwood, bamboo, rocks)
- connectors (vines, old baling twine)
- ‘solar panels’ (cardboard)
- water tanks (old buckets)
- wall and roof panels (large leaves, cardboard, woven branches or sticks, old sheets or posters)
- floor (large leaves, mulch, sand, soft leaves, old mat, swept dirt)
- garden and decorations (flowers, gumnuts, feathers, stones, leaves).
Depending on your design, you might need some tools (e.g. scissors, knife, saw, markers); you could ask for help with this bit. Start with the main structure. Experiment until you get it stable – it’s worth spending extra time at this step:
- for a teepee, make a tripod first
- for a lean-to, find a ‘V’ shape on a strong tree to hook the beam, or use a strong fence
- for a dome, find curved or flexible branches and tie them together at the top.
Add on the roof and walls, and make the floor. Decorate!
5. TIME TO PLAY!
WULAGI PAPER MAKING
Words by Class 3/4 Wakefield and Sophy Millard (sustainability and gardening educator) Photos by Sophy Millard
Wulagi Primary School is an urban school in Darwin, Northern Territory. The school has a history of close relationships with the wider community, and a focus on sustainability. A large community and school permaculture garden has been established on the school grounds. Students from preschool to year six have the opportunity to dig deep and learn permaculture inside the classroom and outside.
Our school is very creative and, as a result, produces a lot of wastepaper. Although we are not able to reuse all of it, one of our classes developed a process that turns some of our wastepaper into beautiful, colourful craft paper. The process has six ‘stations’.
1. COLLECTION STATION
We have collection stations placed around the school, designed to collect colourful wastepaper. They have monster heads to help students identify them.
2. RIPPING STATION
At the ripping station several pieces of paper, of select colours, are ripped into small pieces and placed in a bucket ready for the blending station.
3. BLENDING STATION
At the blending station each bucket of paper is placed into a food processor with lots of water. We don’t soak the paper for too long beforehand, and like to use different textures of paper. This makes interesting pulp that still has bits of colour in it.
4. DECKLE STATION
At the deckle station the pulp is poured over a deckle (frame) that is submerged in water. We then use our fingers to move the pulp so that it is spread evenly, and there are no holes, and pull the deckle out of the water slowly. We get our best paper from using only a very small amount of pulp. Otherwise the paper comes out thick and lumpy.
5. SPONGING STATION
At the sponging station the top frame is removed from the deckle, and a piece of cheesecloth is placed over the wet pulp with no wrinkles in it. The deckle, pulp and fabric sandwich is then put on a hard flat surface – deckle side up – where we use a sponge to remove as much of the water as possible. We then peel the gauzed deckle carefully off the pulp, and the pulp is left sticking to the cloth. This is the paper. Now it just needs to dry.
6. DRYING STATION
At the drying station we lay the paper and cloth on a hard surface – cloth side down – under some newspaper then heavy books to dry. After a week we take all the books and newspaper off, and carefully peel our paper off the cloth.
Now we have beautiful coloured paper that we can use to make cards, artwork and many other fun things.
THE KIDS OF KORINDERIE RIDGE
Words by Charlie MGee and Dalee Pierce
Photos by Dalee Pierce
Near Woodburn in New South Wales there is a little community up on a hill called Korinderie Ridge. There is a huge community garden, surrounded by massive mango trees and banana circles, with pigs and chickens. The kids there know a thing or two about gardening and grow heaps of food! Ochre (7) and Eltham (5) Moore, and April (7) and and Cedar (5) O’Reily told us all about what they do in their garden up on the Ridge.
So what’s your favourite thing about gardening?
Ochre: I like eating the vegetables we grow, and finding frogs in the leaves. Eltham: Playing in the dirt and finding worms. Cedar: Planting! April: I like planting seeds and watering the plants.
Which vegetable is your favourite to grow?
Ochre: Cucumber! Eltham: Cabbage! April and Cedar:
What kind of cucumbers do you grow?
Ochre: Giant Russian cucumbers – those big green spiky
ones – and wrinkly Lebanese cucumbers.
Do you like the surprise shapes you get when pulling up the carrots?
What is your favourite weather in the garden?
Eltham: Rainy days, because I like playing in the mud! We went for a walk around their garden and found lots of bugs. I asked what the bugs crawling on the squash were. All: Ladybirds! April: They’re my favourite! Some are yellow and some are orange and some are red. Cedar: I’ve got some ladybirds here on my hand!
What other bugs do you have working in your garden?
April: We have caterpillars sometimes. We also have a lot of bees.
What do the bees do that’s good for your garden?
April: They fertilise the flowers and spread the pollen around the garden. Ochre and Eltham have a native bee hive at their place.
And what’s different about the native bees and the honey bees?
Ochre: The honey bees sting and the native bees don’t.
What do you like about having pigs in your garden?
April: It’s really fun when we come up to feed them in the morning, but its kind of hard because Mum needs to come and get the containers out of the mud!