I will happily be working in Australia for the next six months until about April 25th. In the past three years, during Boston’s winter months, I have enjoyed hands-on learning through a volunteer program called WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms). Many of the farms I work on employ sustainable farming practices and each farm teaches me new skills and methods of producing food. Although the climate is very different, many of the things I learn can be applied to Home Harvest.
I am currently working on Dangar Island, a small island an hour north of Sydney. My host family grows many vegetables commonly found in the Boston area, as well as tropical fruit trees such as bananas, avocados, mangos and more. The soil here is extremely nutrient deficient, the only suitable planting area is on a steep slope, and water is both scarce and expensive.
To address the slope issue, my WWOOF hosts use terraces made from stones found on-site to level the soil. They make swales to collect precious rainwater and selectively irrigate. They use rainwater tanks and select drought-tolerant species to cut down on water costs.
Using and recycling on-site materials is very important, considering the high costs necessary to transport materials to the island. All food scraps are fed to the chickens. All manure and weeds are composted to add fertility to the soil. All human urine, which I have learned is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and trace minerals, gets diluted in a rain water tank and is then fed to the plants via foliar application. Western social conditioning can make us squeamish when viewing urine as a precious resource, however, it can be as potent or more than costly fish emulsion fertilizer.
I’ve been working on dry stone wall terraces, cement retaining walls, brick walkways and general garden work. I’m happy to be learning so much and look forward to returning to Boston with my newly acquired skills.
Working on a path