Garl Garl Walbu, a Community-run Shelter in Western Australia

Garl Garl Walbu (GGW) is a community-run sobering up shelter in Derby WA.

Derby is located in the dry tropics at the entrance to the Kimberley region in the north of WA. It is equidistant from Perth, Darwin & Denpasar. It is surrounded by tidal mudflats to the west, the Great Sandy Desert to the east and the rugged Kimberley to the north.

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It has an abundance of sunshine and water but very poor soil for growing the foods we are accustomed to eating. Thus every bite that most people eat has travelled for at least a week, over 1000 km by road.

The GGW centre has nearly an acre of land at its disposal. Its Board and management were keen to utilize this land for developing a community garden that would contribute to the health and wellbeing of its clients and the surrounding community.

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July 2015
July 2015

I have been developing a Permaculture demonstration site on 5 acres on the outskirts of Derby and, when the staff and management of GGW visited the property they were adamant that what they saw was what they wanted for their garden. They were especially impressed with the system and results of Bokashi composting, which has enriched our soil to an extraordinary degree.

The first step for staff and management was to attend a Bokashi workshop, where most of the participants used a power drill for the first time to make the ‘buckets’. We use a 20-litre plastic bucket with holes drilled in the base for the upper part and a 10 litre bucket with a hole drilled in the side to hold a tap for the lower part.

October 2015
October 2015

These can often be found where people use a lot of soap powder or are fairly cheap at the hardware store. It is important to ensure that the top bucket has a lid with a secure seal and the two buckets fit together snugly. We also made a supply of fermented bran and buried a well-fermented bucket of food waste.

Next was a site assessment at the Shelter and listing ‘things to be done before we start’. The list included lopping a huge African Mahogany, which provided a very nice stockpile of mulch. A few ornamental trees were moved to the front of the building, tools were purchased and we were ready to start.

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Given that underpinning any garden is the quality of the soil, the initial focus of activity has been that of creating healthy soil through the addition of substantial amounts of various forms of organic matter — specifically: Bokashi composting, collection and creation of organic manures and mulch, growing and harvesting green manure plants.

Ornamental trees were removed to the front of the building.

‘Lasagna’ beds were created by thoroughly wetting the ground, spreading cardboard or shredded paper to choke weeds, spreading a layer of fresh food scraps, followed by a layer of fermented Bokashi, a layer of cow dung, a layer of soil, and finally a thick layer of straw.

Beds were left for a week then small holes were made, filled with fresh compost and seedlings planted. All plants are given a weekly watering with a diluted mixture of fermented Bokashi liquid.

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Stage 2

* Will see the preparation of beds for larger scale vegetable production next dry season and the planting of fruit trees, both native and exotic, along the back fence line to create a food forest.
* A nursery and seedling preparation area next to the existing shed.
* Re-direction of greywater to the food forest.

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This has been an exciting project due to the enthusiasm of all participants and the joy of picking fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and greens for lunch and to take home. There is a feeling of great satisfaction that waste is being turned into fresh food, and the joy of coming to work each day and finding new growth is pretty special.

I have owned Bill Mollison’s books since they were first published, but only looked at the bits related to the tropics. I started to understand them after completing a PDC with Murujan in Kuala Lumpur, taught by Mustapha Bakir. The penny dropped and then, at the South East Asia Permaculture Convergence, I learned about Bokashi and haven’t looked back.

Wendy Albert
Windjana Wellness & Sustainability Services
18 Windjana Rd Derby WA 6728

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