Northey Street City Farm tour

Northey Farm Tours sign

Northey Street City Farm is a permaculture garden in the centre of Brisbane. It is located on 2 hectares of flood-prone area, which is leased from the Brisbane City Council.

buliding

In Zone One is the cafe, kitchen gardens and building. The building has been positioned on poles so that it is at the highest point of a 1 in 100 years flood so that it will not be flooded. The kitchen gardens are for demonstration purposes and are in the shape of keyholes to maximise the output.

There are at least three large meeting places which can be used by visiting groups, but in particular school groups.

Bob gave us an eye-opening demonstration of earth art.

Across the road, there is a regeneration area, which is maintained by the local Bush Care group. There are also groves of native fruit trees in outer zones.

compost

There is a dedicated green waste recycling centre, which includes a large worm farm and compost tunnels. They use the worm liquid to fertilise their plants, rather than as castings. Northey St uses a three bay compost system to rotate the waste matter.

chicken

There are three chicken tractors and these are moved every fortnight.

Also across the road are the productive gardens for the markets and lunches. The new vegetable beds are made up of cardboard, compost and straw. Northey St use the no-dig technique and the beds are raised to make the most of mini-floods. They plant open-pollinated seeds and collect them again for saving.

allotments

Nearby are the allotments which are available for hire. Some people are using nets to keep the bush turkeys away.

orchard

There is also a citrus orchard and this area includes sub-tropical fruit trees. As an investment in the future, there is a grove of hardwood trees which will be harvested in 20 years time.

Northey Street Farm sign

There is a nursery on site called Edible Landscapes Organic Nursery. The organic markets are held in the car park on every Sunday.

Thank you to Northey Street City Farm for the free tour. Tours are held every Tuesday at 9:30pm and highly recommended. 

How to use a worm tower

worm-tower

Since abandoning our worm farm a few years ago (the weather was too hot in Brisbane), we decided to try a worm tower. This one is by Birdies Garden Products. The beauty of this method is the temperature is lower as the soil acts as an insulator.

When you first set up the tower, you may like to add a handful of composting worms and some pre-soaked coconut coir as bedding material.

You use it just like a compost bin but you leave out the big bits. We have a container on our bench top where we place some of our fruit and vegetable scraps and this then gets emptied into the worm farm which has a removable lid. Don’t forget worms do not like onions or citrus so keep these things out and put them in your normal compost bin. You can also add leaves, grass clippings, material from your garden, paper, small pieces of cardboard, and hair.

We’ve had no problems with our worm farm, but if it is starting to smell add a handful of lime to neutralise the food scraps.

The tower itself sits in one of our raised vegetable beds and is slightly higher than the soil and edge of the bed. It’s just less than my hand wide with lots of holes at the bottom to allow the composting worms to move freely between the garden bed and the compost. Worm poo (what is left after the worms have digested the material) is a rich source of nutrients and an excellent fertiliser for your vegetable plants.

After the compost has decomposed enough you can top it up or move it to a new location in the vegetable bed to spread the nutrients around. We would recommend moving the worm tower every six months to a new spot. The benefit of placing it in the bed is that the plants are receiving nutrients right at the root zone.

Worm towers are an easy way to keep a worm farm in a hot or cold location.

Thank you to Birdies Garden Products for providing us with the worm tower.

Book review: Share – The Northey Street City Farm Cookbook

Another one of our recipes is featured in “Share – The Northey Street City Farm Cookbook”.

It’s a well-designed cookbook with full colour pages. There is a distinct Australian influence and the recipes feature unusual fruit and vegetables typically found in a permaculture garden. The majority of the recipes are vegetarian and I’m looking forward to trying the stir-fried bush greens with lemon myrtle dressing, macadamia plum cookies and wattleseed scones.

Share retails for $20 plus $3 per copy postage and handling. You can also buy your books  at the Northey Street City Farm (NSCF) Nursery to save postage costs. Or pick one up at the weekly Sunday organic markets. Alternatively, download an order form and send or fax it to Kym at NSCF, or email: cookbook@nscf.org.au.

Review: Farm Fresh Organics delivery

I’ve been keen to trial organic box delivery, but when I did my research awhile ago our suburb wasn’t included in the drop-off zone. I’ve since found Farm Fresh Organics and we’ve had two deliveries so far.

The first week we ordered a mixed medium box of organic fruit and vegetables on the Tuesday. A Styrofoam box with ice packs was delivered a few days later containing: 1 leek, 1 cos lettuce, 3 zucchini, 1kg carrots, 4 onions, 8 mushrooms, 1/4 kent pumpkin, 1/2 cauliflower, 1 1/2 broccoli, 1/4 cabbage, 1 corn cob, 4 apples, 4 bananas, 3 sweet mandarins and 8 oranges. Phew.

Matt was concerned that he liked to feel, smell and select what he wanted to buy, but we were more then happy with the quality of the produce. One night Mattt steamed some grocery carrots mixed with organic carrots. He then asked me which where the organic ones! I selected the wrong ones based on colour. The grocery ones were bright orange and quite hard. The organic ones were duller but softer and tasted nicer.

Another concern was the cost. Organics can quickly add up, but we found that we could keep the price down by selecting produce in season and sticking to a spending limit. We also found that some things had a similar price to non-organic produce in the supermarkets. We ate everything, except the lettuce and some onions. I like to think of it as an investment in our health, and the mixed box is a good deal.

This week we decided to select individual items for our order. This time we got a bigger box, so it wan’t as packed. Matt got the scales out, but everything ended up being a little over what we were charged. A rare occurrence these days.

We also ordered some organic lamb chops, which were more gamey, with visible marbled fat. Matt said he’d order a different cut next time. I ordered my usual gluten-free loaf of bread and was impressed by how fresh it was!

The only draw back is now that we are eating more fruit and vegetables, we are probably making it harder on ourselves to become self sufficient!

Highly recommended.