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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Trip to melbourne : Port Phillip Eco-Centre

Our trip to Melbourne in March was great, child free and relaxing, very inspiring seeing what other people are up to in the world of permaculture.
The Port Phillip Eco-Centre in St Kilda was probably the closest to what we are trying to achieve, they've retro-fitted an old caretakers house in the botanical gardens, to be fully self sustaining. It arose out of the amalgamation of councils in the area and the new council then convened a working group to see how various premises could be used, as they had some duplication of services. Funding came from philanthropic trusts, government grants and sponsors (see Favourite Web Links for more details).
They have their own blackwater treatment through reed beds on site, rainwater storeage under the deck, solar panels and grey water recycling.
There is a core committee of 10 people, with 16 affiliate groups, most using the premises i.e. toddler music, yoga, environmental protection, bulk buy produce, learning disability groups. They make enough out of ongoing grants, workshops ( there was a w/end permaculture course on while we were there), room hire , etc, to employ 3 FTE staff.
The garden beds were all raised, making it universally accessible, with a seeping hose watering system draining from containers filled at each garden bed. The
local community is encouraged to add to their compost piles and they have worm farms too.
Their main problem is ongoing care of the garden. They rely on a few retired volunteers, but hope ( and recommend), trying to get a permanent gardener 2 days a week to help co-ordinate work and upskill volunteers, as well as help start up local youth group gardens in schools, churches, etc.
They have a self serve kitchen, where people can pick and prepare the garden produce.
It had a great feel to it, with plenty of communal space and meeting areas - a fab bench under the tree and a kids climbing log pile and sandpit. Also heaps of info resources. All in the space of around 1/2 acre.

More on Melb. when i have time!!

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