First of the berries planted at The Living Classroom

November 15, 2017

When it is time to take a break in a conference, what better thing can you do than to plant something to eat?

Berry good work: Some of the GrowthLink members planting in the Berry Patch.

Berry good work: Some of the GrowthLink members planting in the Berry Patch.

Recently 26 members of the Resource Consultancy Services ‘GrowthLink’ group attended The Living Classroom (TLC) in Bingara for their annual gathering.

They had a series of workshops and presentations looking at regenerative agriculture systems and the current trends and issues in the agricultural industry. A break in the Sunday morning session saw the delegates taking time out to plant some food crops into the newly formed Berry Patch.

Over the past two months the TLC gardener and the Work for Dole crew members have constructed the Berry Patch ready for a Spring planting. The plants have been raised in the Nursery on the site.

The soil was prepared by mixing local loam, composted material from the Bingara Landfill, and stable straw from the Bingara Showground to form the garden bed. On planting day, blueberries, strawberries and cherry tomatoes were lovingly placed into the soil.

Gwydir Learning Region Manager, Rick Hutton explained how the soil preparation was done, how the soil was treated by the Steam Weeder to remove any weeds, and then lightly cultivated to provide a bed.

Work for the dole crew preparing berry patch.

Work for the dole crew preparing berry patch.

Rick explained that while cherry tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries may all be considered as ‘berries’, the strawberry is not a true berry, and that the blueberry requires a very specific soil type in order to thrive.  The blueberries, of which five varieties were selected, require a soil pH of between 4 and 5 and that is quite an acidic soil.  The Berry Patch at TLC has been graded to provide a variety of soil pH and nutrient base so that a wide variety of berries can be accommodated.

It is intended that the three classes of students from Cavendish Road High School in Brisbane, who will be staying at TLC next week, will add their contributions to the Berry Patch as a legacy of their visit. They will be staying at the Bunkhouse on-site and visiting the Myall Creek Memorial Site where they are undertaking units in Frontier Studies.