The work of a SAGE intern is never done. And for the last few days Leanne has been wading in manure… almost literally. While her mentor (and SAGE’s first ever intern) Kyle’s been away, she’s been busy keeping things going. Her first seedlings arrive in three weeks and she needs to prepare the beds in which she will plant them. The beds need to be prepared, for they are tired having been ruthlessly exploited by a series of Leanne’s predecessors. The soil needs to rest, its fertility needs restoring. Just like humans. Except we do not cover ourselves in manure. Or not usually.
Established local veggie growers Fraser Bayley (Old Mill Road BioFarm) and Tim Saffery (Queen Street Growers) have invested in a walk-behind tractor that they lent to Leanne and she used this to dig in a load of green manure (basically greenery), adding a biodynamic preparation made using cow manure as she goes. She then covered the whole thing with tarpaulin held down with tyres. When the time comes, she will remove the tarp to find beds that are rested and fertile and ready for her seedlings. The more you find out about what a market gardener does the more you realise that it’s hard work. Rewarding work, but hard work. But Leanne is young and hard work is character-forming.
She’s planting a range of veggies. “It’s important to grow things that people want to buy,” she told me, “I don’t want to grow cool stuff that doesn’t sell; that doesn’t make sense.” So she is planting silverbeet, beetroot, shallots, iceberg lettuce, celery and coriander. And when they’re grown, that combination would make a spectacular salad. I will be following their progress as they grow. To learn more of the SAGE Project visit their website at https://sageproject.org.au/
Above: Tarpaulin… as far as the eye can see. Photo T Moore