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Wild Food & Habitat Trails AT THE RANDWICK SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION HUB

What do you call a city park, permaculture demonstration garden, up-and-coming orchard, community centre retrofitted for energy and water efficiency, children’s playground, beehive enclosure, public open space, a classroom made largely of recycled building materials, reedbed water-recycling toilet, renewable energy systems, Wildfood and Habitat trails, 13 hectares of rare Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub including an ephemeral lake and a community resilience education program?

The answer: Randwick Sustainability Education Hub.

Meeting Place and Cottage Garden Habitat Trail

Stage 3 launched — 21 April 2018

It was for the official opening of the completed three-stage project that concludes the construction of the Hub. People gathered around Randwick mayor, Lindsay Shurey, and Costa Georgiardis, host of ABC Gardening Australia and promoter of permaculture design. Standing in the new Meeting Place, a pergola shelter and gathering area, attendees to International Permaculture Day 2018 watched as the mayor and Costa launched the conclusion of the final phase of construction.

Launch of the final stage of the Randwick Sustainability Education Hub Project at Randwick Community Centre, 27 Munda Street, Randwick with Randwick Council Mayor, Cr Lindsay Shurey and Costa Georgiadis, host of ABC Gardening Australia.

Randwick mayor, Lindsay Shurey (centre, white shirt), with council sustainability educator Fiona Campbell (black shirt behind plaque) launching the last stage in the development of the Randwick Sustainability Hub at the Randwick Community Centre. Horticultural educator Emma Daniell (yellow dress) co-leads the PermaBee garden volunteers and other initiatives in the Permaculture Interpretive Garden at the Hub. The others are some of the Permabee crew with landscape architect/permaculture educator, Steve Batley, behind.

The name, Randwick Sustainability Hub, includes the resilience education and schools excursion program, Wild Food Trail, Habitat Trail and Permaculture Interpretive Garden that are found in a place that has become a regional park attracting visitors from the Sydney Eastern Suburbs and beyond.

The Stage 3 works utilised recycled brick paving and reused hardwood in its construction. The role of the Meeting Place is to provide seating and a pleasant place for relaxing, for waiting for workshops and events and meeting with friends. As vines grow to cover the pergola and as the trees grow it will become a shady place during the warm months. Included in the design are a wayfinding noticboard directing people to different parts of the Hub. The structure and its immediate space provide an unimpeded link and easy access between the community centre building with the open space of Munda Street Reserve beyond.

The adjacent Cottage Garden Habitat Trail was planted out by the community and the PermaBee volunteers to create habitat for small birds, lizards and other creatures and food for the native bees.

Construction of the Meeting Place continued to the day before the official opening. At left is the pergola which will eventually be covered by a shady deciduous vine. Open space and seating at centre will be shaded by trees. The timber structure at right rear will hold information about creating habitats. At the entrance is wayfinding sign directing visitors to different features on site. Rain falling on the roof cascades into a rill that takes it into the garden for irrigation. The area around the eucalypts at right is planted to flowering plants — our cottage garden — including herbs and native plants adapted to the dry, sandy soils. There, they provide forage and home to birds, bees from the Sydney Bee Club's nearby hives and lizards.
On the day before the opening, looking from the southern side, we see landscape architect, Steve Batley preparing the Meeting Place landscaping. The installation provides unimpeded access from the community centre building to the open space. At right is the classroom-on-the-commons, build largely of recycled building materials. The grid-connected wind turbine and a photovoltaic array on the roof offsets energy use in the community centre. The sprinkler uses rainwater, and in in dry times draws from the aquifer.
The opening of the Meeting Place included a participatory public planting led by ABC Gardening Australia host, Costs Georgiardis (top).
Planting out is nothing new to horticulturist and landscape designer Emma Daniell. Emma is a permaculture educator at Randwick Sustainability Hub.
Rainwater falling on the roof of the entryway signage stand flows into a downpipe and cascades into a rill that takes it to a soak in the garden.

The Habitat and Wild Food Trails

Habitat trail

Maintenance and planting out was carried out during the three Gardening on the Wildside Course and PermaBees garden volunteer sessions during 2017 and early 2018.

The Habitat Trail landscaped as wildlife habitat for birds, frogs, lizards and other creatures and for use by the schools excursion program in ecology. It forms the Zone 5 in a permaculture system.

The dip-netting pond on the Habitat Trail used for the school's program.
Left: Sandstone blocks provide seating for visitors and school groups on the schools excursion program where they gather around an educator. Middle: Native social bee hive. Right: View looking down into the bird habitat area.
Left: Elke Haege with one of five native social bee hives she made for installation at Randwick Sustainabiity Hub. She led a workshop in social and solitary native bees on International Permaculture Day 2018. Right: Accommodation for native solitary bees and other insects forming part of the integrated pest management of the adjacent Permaculture Interpretive Garden.

Wild Food Trail

Maintenance and planting out was carried out during the three Gardening on the Wild Side course and PermaBees garden volunteer sessions during 2017 and early 2018.

As it grows, the Wild Food Trail will demonstrate native and local plants suited to wild harvesting such as midyim berry, wombat berry, apple dumpling, davidson plum, native tamarind, macadamia, lemon myrtle, lomandra, acacia and warrigal greens.

The Wild Food Trail surrounding the timber Classroom.
The Habitat and Wild Food trails diversify the space for walkers.

School excursion program — new biodiveristy lessons developed in 2017

The schools excursion program development of new biodiversity lessons such as Life in the Scrub which explores lifecyles, pond ecology and the impact of urban develop on the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub.

One of the native social bee hives along the Habitat Trail that is used for the school's education program. The hives were painted by children attending the Eco Heroes Club for 5-11 year old. The hives are padlocked into gabions to prevent theft.

Courses and workshops — three Gardening on the Wild Side Course and three Backyard Bee workshops during 2017 and early 2018

Courses and workshops that educate people in strategies for resilient living that they can adopt in their lives, such as Gardening on the Wild Side, seven-session course covers landscape design techniques and plant knowledge to develop participant skills to create habitat for birds, bees, lizards and other creatures. Another workshop builds skills in urban beekeeping of both native and honey bees.

Eco Heroes Club — painting of native social bee boxes

The Eco Heroes Club for 5-11 year olds meets monthly and provides fun and skilling-up for children and their parents and carers who attend. The Club makes use of the classroom-on-the-commons and other facilities at the Randwick Sustainability Hub.

Top: Eco Heroes paint native beehives. Lower: Eco Heroes learn about native bees at the Sydney Bee Club apiary.

Volunteers program — PermaBees and Green Gym programs maintain and plant out habitat trails

The PermaBee program was started to help maintain the Permaculture Interpretive Garden and to provide gardening education and social contact for local people. Meeting Fridays, PermaBees are a relaxed social opportunity and led by qualified horticulturists.

In 2018, Australian Conservation Volunteers used the Permaculture Interpetive Garden, Wild Food and Habitat Trails for its Green Gym program to provide outdoor exercise for aged people.

Randwick mayor, Lindsay Shurey (red jacket at centre) thanked the Green Gym team at a dinner in their honour. At right: horticultural educator Jon Kingston, Randwick Council sustainability educator Fiona Campbell who organises activities at the Sustainabity Hub (orange shirt). In rear row second from right, horticultural educator Emma Daniell.
Left: The Permabees garden volunteer program provides learning, active recreation and social contact for local people. Right: The Hub's trailer used by Randwick Council's summer activities program.

Those who have been coming to the Hub over its eight years of existence have seen the change to the community centre building and the conversion of the adjacent large, low-grade lawn area into a truly multiple-purpose regional park, community and learning centre and biodiverse garden. It was this that mayor Lindsay Shurey opened the final stage of the Hub project on International Permaculture Day 21 April 2018.

Created By
Russ Grayson
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Photos and story by Russ Grayson — https://pacific-edge.info

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