Food garden developments at The Living Classroom

July 20, 2016

After the Orange Festival, two more exciting food garden stories are taking shape at The Living Classroom.

Bingara’s Orange Trees are part of our heritage. As a living War Memorial they are unique, and as proven every year they generate a sense of respect and enthusiasm from all ages. Of course there are also the oranges to eat. Freshly picked from the trees by eager hands, they are sweet and juicy and full of nutrients only fresh fruit can be. Costa Georgiadis, the ABC TV Gardening Australia presenter, described them as “The real deal!” and “the best tasting fruit trees I have experienced!”

There are two more food related local garden stories happening in Bingara now. At The Living Classroom (TLC) work has begun on ‘Paradise Found’ – The Mediterranean Garden, and ‘Nourish’ – The Bush Tucker Garden and Kangaroo Classroom. Both of these projects began as major works by Landscape Architecture students from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

QUT students have been coming to Bingara for several years and using The Living Classroom site as the base for their work. The wonderful names ‘Paradise Found’ and ‘Nourish’ were chosen by the students to headline their major design work.

Along with other exotically titled projects such as ‘The Aussie Farm Dam Makeover’, ‘Continuance – The Vineyard Project’, and ‘Vagabond Chooks’, the students have combined imagination, detailed research, and a bit of whimsical fun into their designs.

The Living Classroom Management has selected some of these projects to be implemented at TLC with ‘The Aussie Farm Dam Makeover’ nearing completion, and ‘Paradise Found’ and ‘Nourish’ now underway.

Glen Pereira from Gwydir Shire Council heads the site development team at TLC. Glen was delighted to secure more than two hundred mature olive trees for the site this year. “The trees have come from the Olive Grove Orchard near Biniguy,” Glen explained.

“The Olive Grove Orchard has been purchased by the new owners of the Stahmann’s Pecan Farm on the south bank of the Gwydir opposite the Olive Orchard. The new owners want to expand their pecan production and were removing the olives. Their plan was to bulldoze and burn the trees, so I asked if we might have them for TLC!” he said.

The olive trees average about 18 years of age and are mostly the Kalamata eating variety. “Nearly 60 of the trees have been planted along the ‘Olive Tree Memorial Walk’ from the Cunningham Street entry point at TLC site near West Street, up the hill to the buildings,” Glen said. “The balance of this season’s delivery, making up about 220 in total, have been planted in rows as part of the Olive Grove in ‘Paradise Found’ – The Mediterranean Garden,” he added.

Council has overseen the delivery and planting of the trees, with each tree being placed into individually excavated holes and orientated to face the same direction as they were at Biniguy.

They have had soil placed back over their root ball and have been watered in and had a thirty centimetre layer of compost mulch from the Bingara Landfill site placed on top.

As well as producing olives from the trees it is planned to grow companion herbs and vegetables around and under the trees. Expect to see peas and beans and beneficial insect- attracting flowers growing as companions to the olives this spring.

‘Nourish’ – The Bush Tucker Garden and Kangaroo Classroom is an adjoining project at TLC on the eastern side of the stream that runs between the two main dams. About 5 hectares of land has been set aside for ‘Nourish’ with six (6) distinctive landscape ‘pods’ being created to start the bush tucker foods growing.

The GLR Training Manager at Gwydir Shire Council Rick Hutton, is co-ordinating this project.

‘Nourish’ involves Bingara Central School, Bingara Preschool, Northern Slopes Landcare Association and Gwydir Shire. “Expect to see Bush Tucker plants with wonderful names and stories like Quandong, Nardoo, Murnong, Garaar and Burrarra, growing at TLC and maybe on a dinner plate near you in the not too distant future,” Rick said.

The Living Classroom is a community project. The site is open to the public, and visitors are always welcome.

If you would like to know more about these projects, and maybe lend a hand or have a conducted tour, please contact Rick Hutton on 0438 355 197.