Garden of Tegan

This morning I visited the Garden of Tegan in Balberra, about thirty minutes south of Mackay city, where there was an open house for the recently established permaculture market garden. Tegan and her partner are now living their dream of growing organic food and are currently experimenting with different crops to gauge their suitability for commercial production. Currently they’re selling their food through the Wednesday and Sunday farmers markets in Mackay.

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Participants inspecting the organic crops at the Garden of Tegan

About twenty people attended the event. I had met some of the folks the other day at the Greater Whitsunday Food Network, a group of people who are dedicated to growing good local produce and promoting it in the region.

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Garden of Tegan grows fruit. legumes, greens, root vegies

Tegan kicked off the event with a story about how she became a permaculture practitioner. Previously she had worked in a government job – this shift to a permaculture business aligns with her lifelong interest in nature. She said “Nature is really important to me…..I want to be outside working in the garden, experiencing the seasons.”

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Tegan says “healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy people”

She’s done quite a bit of ‘groundwork’, testing the soil for carbon content which generally aligns with the carbon content of sugar cane farms soils. The garden is on land surrounded by cane farms. Their challenge over time is to build the soil quality to support their venture, using permaculture principles.

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Chooks doing their work in a temporary pen

I’ve heard the term carbon sequestration many times, but until today I hadn’t ever really understood what it means and how it works. It took Simon Mattsson’s patient and clear explanation of carbon sequestration, based on his deep knowledge of soil biology, to finally make sense to me. Here’s a link to Simon’s Nuffield Scholarship report.

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Tabitha and Kellie discuss soils with Simon

Though I’ve only been here in Mackay for one week, I’ve now met a number of people through Lucas who are key to this project. The visit to the Garden of Tegan was an opportunity to meet a few more people who have similar interests in food production and agriculture. In turn, most of the people I’ve spoken to so far are keenly interested in our project.