Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

We would like to thank this incredible young family for allowing us to visit their utopia in suburban New Farm.

Two of the friendliest and healthiest looking young people you could meet, Roman (an engineer) and Jana are full of ideas for "inventions" using all sorts of re-purposed bits and bobs to help their sustainable lifestyle.

See their website SPURTOPIA - OUR SUSTAINABLE LIVING STORY for more information, recipes, workshops and more.

Here's our experience today with Roman's workshop and garden tour:

Quite a big group, of BLF'ers and others, being welcomed to Spurtopia and having Roman's ideas of energy saving explained.

Roman makes various solar cookers using leftover materials, including this one made from a satellite dish and stand using old office chair. Roman and Jana made a cake for sharing today using another version of solar cooker.

Yoghurt maker made from pizza box lined with alfoil. Yoghurt made from organic milk and a bit of the last batch is put in a jar, placed in a black plastic bag and left in the sun all day. This box is used for extra heat in winter.

Home made washing liquid made with borax, soap flakes, water and washing soda. See website for full recipe and instructions.

Citrus fabric softener. Recipe on website.

Jams, chutneys and preserves made from their own and neighbours produce. Bartering is encouraged.

Kitchen worm farm bucket with holes in the sides for permanent plantings, these are Brazilian Spinach. No need for added water, the worms create their own liquid in the form of worm juice.

Small wicking pot made from recycled milk container cut in half and cloth for wicking.

One tiered wicking bed made from styrofoam box. Lid is cut to make the bottom, fitted with PVC pipe and poked full of holes. Another PVC pipe is down the side for watering and an overflow hole created for excess water to escape.

Good for shallow rooted greens such as lettuce.

Two tiered versions doubles the root space and water holding capacity. Good for root veg.

And even a three tiered version with the bottom cut out of the top box. These are big enough to grow small fruit trees in.

Out in the garden with Roman. He has an old bathtub for water loving greens such as Kangkong and fitted with a solar pump to keep the water ticking over. Small fish in the tub eat the mosquito larvae.

Bamboo teepee for beans to grow on and shade other veg below during the heat.

Roman talking about the Naranjilla Solanum quitoense , a most unusual plant with lots of spikes and edible orange fruit.

Passionfruit grown against the house is possum safe whereas those grown on the fence get eaten.

Some of the pawpaw crop! Also needs to be protected from the possums using split milk containers or wire cage.

Honey hives provide many kgs of pure quality honey each year. Roman knew nothing about bee keeping when he first obtained the hives and is self taught through books.

Home made watering system using gravity fed water via re-purposed vac hose and pipe.

Maggot tin for the chooks provides extra protein - bones in, maggots out through the holes.

Wet coffee grounds prove attractive for flies to lay their eggs and produce lots of maggots for the chooks.

The inside of the home made no-spill chook feeder (below). PVC pipe allows the food to trickle out as needed, chooks help themselves through the holes in the sides. Helps prevent rats as the chook food isn't broadcast over such a broad area.

The nesting box is made totally from recycled materials.

Home made champagne bottle in PVC pipe chook waterer.

Chook run is under the incredibly productive avocado, macadamia and a few stone fruit trees.

Roman, an engineer, explaining his water harvesting method which involves a string attached to a brick to block the pipes when he wants to harvest.

Bananas started thriving once they began to be fertilised using the nappy soak water.

Back to check  out the styrofoam wicking bed "garden" growing all sorts of goodies including pawpaw trees and rockmelons. The boxes act as insulation from the hot cement underneath and are very portable as the seasons change.

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Special thanks to Lissa for organizing this garden visit. Thanks to all for coming. We had such as enjoyable morning with you.

For those who couldn't make it check our website for upcoming events & workshops.

What an eye-opener! There is always something to learn!

Roman and Jana made us very welcome - it was a mixed group including some BLF-ers. Roman lead the discussion with some history of his and Jana's involvement in food growing on their rented property at New Farm. He showed us some home-made versions of solar cookers. Then went on to demonstrate variations on the wicking-bed theme. Including some made with extra water storage for a longer time between drinks (handy if the gardener goes on holidays).

Those BLFers really interested in wicking beds or boxes would benefit from attending one of Roman's presentations on the subject. He has taken the experimental nature of wicking beds to a whole new level.

There were bottles and bottles of dried beans, all home-grown. Used for cooking and for sprouting. A quick demo of sprouting using just a bottle with a perforated lid. Sprouts (or micro-greens) are so easy to do and so nutritious, everyone can grow them even if they don't have access to a garden.

Roman described a basic cooking method - the cob oven you're having when you don't have a cob oven ;-) Meaning really a small bbq plate with a cover which cooked amazing pizzas. Roman and Jana are keen sharers and with their fellow tenants and neighbours, have sharing parties, the pizza night being just one of them.

We were shown around the extensive garden. That sounds like acres, doesn't it? I don't know the real area of the back yard, but every inch of it had something growing on or in it. As did the steps, the landings, the driveway and the nooks and crannies. There's even a small chook run with (surprise!) one of Roman's no-spill-no-rodent chook feeders made from a pail with lid and inserts. No photos of that, I hope that another attender took some photos - those with chooks could make one for themselves.

Towering over the centre of the garden is a bamboo pyramid. Not only used as a trellis but there to impart its own brand of energy to the space. There was a solar-powered pump aerating a bath full of edible water plants. There were wheelie-compost or worm bins (not sure which). A two-year-old fruitful Pumpkin sprawling over the lawn. Who needs a lawn?

There is an extensive system of grey-water so all the in-ground plants are watered. There's no installed tanks but Roman has an IBC with fresh water captured from the garage roof.

There's more ... much more that I didn't see or photograph. Other members of BLF will add their observations and photos.

I should mention that most of what we saw by way of garden beds, the chook run and other structures was made from re-purposed or recycled materials. Innovative uses for other folk's junk ;-)

It was a seriously-interesting morning and I'm so pleased I went. Thank you to Roman and Jana for your hospitality and for sharing some of your experiences.


First of the 3 solar cookers:

One style of wicking bin (using a Salmon box):

And another style:

The Cob Oven you're having ...

Some waterplants:

The compost (or worm?) bins:

Part of the in-ground garden and part of the pyramid:

Plants on the driveway (with guest appearance of Albert pushing baby Damon):

Small selection of discussions over solar-baked cake and other goodies:

And the final chortle from the butcher bird:

Found a couple of pics of the chook feeder and have added them Elaine :)

From Susan Cook who went along on the Sunday for the workshop:

Thank you to Roman, Jana and Lada for your hospitality and for a fun day learning how to make self- watering planter boxes.  Roman gave lots of wonderful advice and this information will save hours and hours of watering!  We finished with a yummy cake made in their solar oven.  Their garden is such an inspiration.  A few photos from the day.



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