Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Biodynamic prep at Glendhu Bay

My friend Su Hoskins has recently started doing some work for John McRae out at Gelndhu Bay Station. I'm a big fan of both of these people and really support what they are doing in our town in terms of organic growing. Su asked if I would like to take the Wanaka Young Change Makers down to Johns place to learn about the biodynamic prep she is making and applying to his land. How could we say no?

After what seemed an age we eventually managed to leave a warm and dryish town only to drive down the road into what looked like a pretty thick purple rain cloud. Thankfully the rain bated.

Su did an amazing job of explaining to us about how you use a combination of poo, plants, water, cow horns and human energy to make this liquid inoculent. What really stuck in my head was her description of why weeds appear. She explained that when a plant grows it is the lands way of providing the nutrients it needs. After the plant has died it will compost into the ground adding the nutrients within it back into the soil. What these preps do is speed up this process a little. Soil it seems is not only amazing, but also very clever.

We helped stir the prep, a very important part of the process to develop the right constituency. Once it was right we applied it to the land in two different ways.

Throughout the afternoon Su and Si had been plating potatoes and armed with buckets full of the inoculent we threw it all over the potato patch. Once this was done we refilled the buckets, found a brush and took a walk around the paddock. The process was pretty simple, dip the brush into the liquid then with a flick of the wrist distribute it around the paddock.

We had a ball, thank you so much Su and John for making this happen for us!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Waste Audit at MAC

The Regeneration Otago Quaranteen Island weekend inspired Meg & Violet to start plans to get some kind of level upon their school recycling system. One of the actions that came out of producing these plans was to do a waste audit at school. We needed some data about what exactly Mount Aspiring College were throwing away before we could design a system to direct it to the best stream and then reducing it.

Megan has done a fantastic job of motivating Luke, Rob and Jarrod into helping out with the waste audit which we did after school. Massive props to you all, it's one of the stinky jobs and it's real impressive to see you all step up to get it done in your own time.

We had a conversation with the property manager the week before and found out that we could easily get access to a weeks worth of waste on a Thursday. The blue bags come from classrooms and the black bags are from communal areas and bins outside.

I brought along a stack of crates with labels to sort the waste into, a tarp, some scales and most importantly a box of latex gloves. With everything we needed it was time to empty the waste, bag by bag onto the tarp and get measuring.

The thing that struck me was the amount of plastic bags that were being used. Inside each of these blue bags could be up to 8 other blue bags. I'm not so much a fan of plastic bags as it is, so this seemed something that we needed to get on top of. How could a collection system change to stop the use of literally hundreds of plastic bags every month??? I'm sure it won't be that hard.

I was expecting lots and lots of food and paper. I certainly got what I expected. Again, all this requires is the correct easy to use and collect system in place to ensure this waste goes to the appropriate stream. It looks like we need a pretty big worm farm / bokashi / compost system. Or in fact we could just finish the food we bring to school rather than throw it all away.

There were a lot of food wrappers, although they are light and take up relatively little volume it is still a significant problem. It seems that MAC is like most other communities in NZ, they love their pies.....mind you, so do I. When you see the empty pie wrappers on mass it really shows you what a problem it is. Does a pie really have to come in a plastic wrapper? I'm not sure it does. I always thought the point of the pastry was to be a wrapper of some sorts.

We noticed the issue of having all the waste muddled up together. The food scraps had contaminated everything else in the bags. It was certainly yuck, and so easily avoidable. The bag of dog poo, and it was a massive bag, that Kim found was certainly the most yuck thing I've experienced for a long while. It also didn't really fit into what I expected to find in the school bins.

A small ish pile of 'oh my god I can't believe they threw that away' started to accumulate. A full can of coke, unopened instant noodles, a bunch of bananas, some badminton rackets, a football......I'm sure there was a reason why they got biffed but perhaps we could encourage that they were biffed in a more productive reusable way?

Something we also have to remember is that Wastebusters collected on wheelie bin (240l) of paper and a wool sack of cardboard (480l) from MAC this week. So it's happening in some places, we just need to get the same thing happening everywhere.

Next steps? Meg and the rest of the crew will be analysing the figures and will have details of what's to follow soon.

Whoop whoop, amazing work from these young change makers!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Outlook for Someday

Wanaka Young Change Makers have been making a short film to enter in the Outlook for Someday film challenge this year.

We've spent the last few Tuesday sessions at the Crib working on this as well as Megan's MAC waste audit. Last night filming was done! It's gonna be SICK!!!!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

What happens when you get all the Enviroschools together in one place?

Aside from lots and lots of work, it tends to go a little crazy. On the first night of our Wellington national hui the Wellington Team put together an amazing skit / play / thing?????? Who knows what to call it, but it certainly was fun.

Roles were swapped and the story was told of one facilitators plans for a student hui casued himself and his new girlfriend a fair amount of stress on evening.

Listening to the story I couldn't help but draw connections between Charles' hui and the one we had at Rippon. Thankfully the atua were smiling down upon us and granted good weather for the day.

This was a really great way to illustrate how the facilitators and rc's work together, even more fitting running along side the eco-system activity we'd all taken part in during the day where we investigated what the facilitators, rc's and national team all needed from each other in order to create the most amazing ecosystem for us to all live in.

And what better way to end a show than with a gigantic organic people powered machine......wooo hooo!

Raumati South Kindergarten

If anyone tries to tell you that you can't do EfS with kindergarten aged children, tell then to check out Raumati South Kindergarten. Their place is AMAZING! One of the first things you notice are the incredible grounds. There is evidence of reuse everywhere. Which ever way you turn then you'll find some food growing, even at the start of winter. They even have their own aviary, how cool is that?

Inside the walls are plastered with truly inspirational work by the children. You can find out about how Maui tamed the sun. What is and isn't important when you are making houses. Some uber cool water experiments and heaps more.

The staff and students love being part of Enviroschools and haver certainly embraced it into their kaupapa. Well done Raumati South Kindergarten!!!!!

Muritai School - Petone, Wellington

The day before the Enviroschools National Hui for 2010 I went on a tour of some of the local schools. First stop was Muritai School in Petone.

We were welcomed onto the school with an amazing powhiri and listened to some very empowered students talk about their Enviroschools journey. Being seated in the green room, a class room block that has a focus on sustainability, was also really inspirational. At the back of the room you can see the control box for their PVC's that are on t he roof and information about how they are hooked into the Schoolgen programme from Genesis energy, the excess energy they generate goes back into the grid and they can claim it back when they need it. Awesome!

Muritai school is up to year 8 and it is mostly the year 7 and 8's that act as leaders in their enviroschools work. But don't go thinking it is just them that do the work. They have a fantastic buddy system that puts the senior students with younger students, acting as mentors, advisor's and general inspirational young people.

I'm uploading the pictures as large as possible, so if you want to read the displays click on the image and it will hopefully open large enough to be able to read.......If you want to find out more about the ES work being done at Muritai visit their Enviroschool's blog page, it's mean burgers!

Edible Gardens with QPS Seniors

Miss Reed, ex Glenorchy now QPS, asked me to work with a crew of her senior students to help them with their edible gardening inquiry. As seems to happen so often in school it is really hard to get someone to help out doing these things, which makes my job super rad because I can go in and help them out.There are 9 of them in the group and as you can see the other six were busy doing other things. Another thing that happens so often in school, so many things to do, so many things to learn, how do you choose?

We'd already had one afternoon session where we checked out the area that it may go, plus the results of  their inquiry that they'd already done. The principal and property manager were asked about locations and garden types. The location confirmed and then the frame purchased, a very nice kit set from Placemakers.

With the kit set on site it was time for four of us to level the ground and assemble. Even though it's an easy kit set, it still takes time to figure it out. Good job everyone.

Next step, compost!