Going Organic $3.50 Giant Sorghum — the first in a new

Going Organic
march–may ’11
$3.50 inc. GS
Giant Sorghum —
the first in a new
covercrop series
p 19
Fraccing - what is it
all about? p 15
how to get them
working for you p 6
printed on recycled paper
Bunya Pine Araucaria bidwillii
Bunya cones drop from January to March, cones can weigh up
10 kg containing as many as 100 nuts.
Trees mature at 12-15 years, producing exceptional crops (20
cones) every two or three years.
A nut weighs about 15 grams and contains 32 calories.
Once dropped the nuts should be processed within a week.
Price Bushfood retailers currently use frozen stock and sell for
$10-15/kg. Fresh nuts can be sold for $6/kg
www . tropo . org . au
Issue No 83 Official journal of Tweed Richmond Organic Producers’ Organisation, TROPO
Buying Organic on the North Coast
What is TROPO?
To help promote the sale of organic produce in the Tweed Richmond
region, Going Organic has compiled the following list of businesses,
markets and box order schemes selling organic foods. If you would like
your business added to this list, contact the editor.
TROPO, the Tweed Richmond
Organic Producers Organisation,
was established in 1989 as a
grassroots local action group
dedicated to fostering organic
agriculture and gardening on the
NSW North Coast.
Organic Fruit and Vegetable outlets
Go Vita
Naturalily Organic
Bangalow Basics
Brunswick Heads Brunswick Health Foods
Brunswick Heads The Village Greens
Byron Bay
Life’s a Beech
Byron Bay
Fundamental Foods
Byron Bay
Byron Bay
Byron Bay
Santos Warehouse
Fundamental Foods
Goanna Bakery
Lismore (Nth)Rainbow Wholefoods
Fresh Wholefoods
Nimbin Emporium
Nimbin Organics
19 Ballina Fair, Kerr St
2/28 Cherry St
29 Byron St
2/20 Fingal St
23 Old Pacific Hwy
44 Beech Drv
69 Jonson St
BP Service Bayshore Dr
105 Jonson St
7 Brigantine St
140 Keen St
171 Keen St
49 Terania St
51 Burringbar St
43 Wollumbin St
58 Cullen St
50 Cullen St
Box Deliveries
Byron Organic Boxes
Fiona O’Connor
0432 579 506
Naturalily Organics
Anna and Ray
6686 8955
Organics for Everyone Munch Crunch Organics
Coomera to Coolangata Byron Region
Eloise 0433 707 469
W: munchcrunchorganics.
Dolphin Organics
T: 6684 7605
Dolph Cooke
F: 6684 7931
07 5523 3082
If you would like your box deliver service listed or removed from Going Organic
please contact the editor, see the back for contact details.
(Rainbow Region) Lismore Organic Market — Tuesdays 7.30-11 am (rain
or shine), Lismore Showground. Contact Dave Roby 6628 1084
Gold Coast Organic Farmers’ Market — Sunday 6-11.30 am (rain, hail
or shine), Oval, Miami High School. www.gcorganicmarket.com
Byron Farmers’ Market — Thursdays 8-11 am, Butler Street Reserve.
Contact Vicki Rix 6629 1666
New Brighton Farmers Market — Tuesdays 8-11 am, 6684 5390
Grafton — Every second Thursday
Lismore Farmers’ Market — Saturday, 8 am-12 noon,
Lismore Showground
Since then, membership has
grown to over 150. Members
include commercial organic
producers, part-time farmers, home
gardeners, conventional farmers
considering converting to organic
methods, and many others with an
interest in supporting the kind of
agriculture that does not poison
people or the environment.
TROPO activities include
meetings and field days covering
practical organic farming and
gardening techniques and looking
at wider issues in sustainable
In the struggle for a cleaner,
healthier and more sustainable
world, your views count, and
TROPO helps make your voice
heard. TROPO members provide
input to a number of influential
institutions including NSW
Agriculture, OFA, organic
certification groups like NASAA
and BFA. The group also liaises
with produce wholesalers and
Annual membership costs only
$28 and includes regular meetings,
field days and four editions
of the Going Organic Journal.
Membership also provides access
to experienced organic growers
interested in sharing their expertise.
See our membership form on page
23 and a full list of contacts on the
back cover.
You can also find us at
Visit our new forum page,
and we’ve joined facebook.
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
Farmwalk - Sunflower Greens
Affairs of TROPO
President’s Report
Landscaping for Beneficials
Loradel Park
The floridation fight
Rita Oort’s Chooks
LOM Does coal gas mining fracc you off?
From floods to life coaching @ the market
Fracc off and leave us alone
Groundcovers for soil health — farm tour
Organic World News
Cover Crops: Dave Roby looks at Giant Sorgham19
Rita Oort’s Chooks
In the garden with Dave Forrest
Earth friendly fare
What to plant this quarter
TROPO membership form
Contact details
Front cover pic — Hugh Nicholson
Cartoon p6 - Gibbo
Saturday, 2nd April, 10 am- 12 noon
sunflower greens
The Boomsmas, Nimbin Rd, Coffee Camp
The next TROPO farmwalk will be held at Carol
and Ken Boomsma’s property at Coffee Camp. Carol,
a regular stallholder at Lismore Organic Market has
been supplying the local area with sunflower greens for
the last 9 years. The greens, more commonly known
as sprouts, are grown in soil filled trays in igloos. So if
you’ve always been curious about the growing cycle of
sunflower greens come along on the day and find out.
The day is open to everybody. Carol would
particularly like to invite our regular shoppers from the
organic market. As it’s a small area we will be looking
over it will be particularly suited for families with
younger children. Also, it is undercover so come even if
it is raining. Carpooling is encouraged.
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
The property is directly behind the Coffee Camp
Public School on the Nimbin Road. The driveway is
before the school when you’re coming from Lismore
direction. It is 18 km from Lismore and 8 kms from
Affairs of TRopo
President’s Report
he current “dry and
hot”conditions since
mid January are very
different to earlier
in the season when
the ducks got bogged, the pollen
drowned, and half the east coast
was washed into the creek. TROPO
applauds the resilience of food
producers in our region to get back
up and give it another go. The
recovery is not easy or without cost
so let’s hope our TROPO eaters
support the efforts of those growing
their sustenance. We should be
aware that certified Organic have
been audited to have preventative
David Forrest
strategies in place for soil erosion,
and don’t have chemical fertilisers
or pesticides leaching or washing
off their properties. They also don’t
use toxic chemicals to poison their
crops to obtain harvest. I understand
growers trying to get yield, but what
is the real cost of this. Think before
buying this stuff !
The duality of human nature is
a continuing reality. All those local
growers at Farmers’ Markets or
supplying locally are great because
they’re local - even though they
use all the same array of pesticides
(without scrutiny) as the bad-ass
maca growers who are put through
the wringer. TROPO readers would
know my views on the pesticide
issue, and I remain progressive,
I hope, trying to get growers and
their representative bodies to adopt
better strategies in managing real
risks. But the pervasive “buy local
or Organic” is ridiculous. I can’t see
how pesticide use in our immediate
environment is preferable to use
further away-in fact its always
in our planetary backyard (ref.
Endosulphans’ deregistration).
The certified conventional growers
described in the big colour adverts
with an asterix are certified chemical
users*, is that comforting? The
Rural Buying Service Pty Ltd
Simply the best ...
• The best advice • The best service • The best prices
For a great deal, see the experts at the Rural Buying Service where it pays to be a member.
More than 40 stores in Lismore offer discounts to our members yet membership costs only $25 a year.
Pumps & Irrigation equipment
Polypipe & fittings
PVC pipe and drain coil
Irrigation design
Water filters
White oil
Derris dust
Garlic spray
Soap spray
Yeast Autolysate
Wild May attractant
Spray Tech oil
Symbex microbial spray
Blood and bone
Dynamic Lifter
Soft Rock Phosphate
Reactive phosphate rock
Fish emulsion
Humic acid
Soil pH kits
Full soil & plant tissue analysis kits
Grafting & pruning equipment
Fruit picking sticks
Crates & cartons
Brush cutters
Chipping hoes
Windbreak & weedmat
Shadecloth & greenhouse film
Nursery equipment
Plant pots & planter bags
Work clothes & boots
Bee-keeping equipment
145 Casino St, South Lismore. Ph 6621 2853
Kays Lane, Alstonville. Ph 6628 5444
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
Affairs of tropo
seduction of chemicals is a fatal attraction, “local” is a
subtle seduction that there is no chemical use - or what?
We all want to be in the comfort zone.
This month there has been a ground cover tour
with TAFE Organic students, Soilcare members and
farmers interested to see how to hold soil and influence
beneficials (pollinators, parasites and predators). If that
sounds like you, we’re going to keep you in check with
biocontrol. This is followed by Dr Linda Thompson
telling it like it is to farmscape for beneficials. Have
a look at what she has found from her research in this
issue. Keep your mouse on the TROPO web for Richard
Llewellyn who has provided Trichogramma wasps
against all species of caterpillar pests for decades,
describing his journey in ID of, and rearing predators
and parasites of the infamous Fruit Spotting Bug. If you
think all the spraying will stop just because Endo’s off
the list in 2 years, think again, because there’s a new
chemical replacement with a different modus operandi,
but just as harmful, already in use. It is notable that as
a residual, it interferes with biocontrols. Did you know
that your levy money to your industry body is paying,
matched $ for $ by government, for an ongoing program
to lobby for retention use of pesticides?
TROPO’s seasonal farm walk will show local people
doing the growing thing as best they can for you and
the environment, and they’re happy to share their
experience of how and why. Check the TROPO web for
We should remember the salient words of Professor
Paul Hepperly, “since chemical fertiliser and pesticide
use has become widespread food is cheaper and
family farms have declined, food is less nutritious
and supplements have boomed, the environment more
polluted and health care costs have skyrocketed.” We
could add that globalisation has become all powerful
but millions more starve (40 million increase in the last
two years) and chemical pesticides and fertilisers are
used increasingly with strong share price growth (even
on GM crops – mythbusted!). They help provide a warm
globe and a fuzzy feeling the doctor can’t explain.
World Leaders in Sustainable Agriculture
High performance, highly concentrated:
Your local NTS Distributor:
• Liquid Fertilisers
• Microbial & Microbe Culturing Products
• Humate & Dry Minerals
• Fish and Kelp Products
• Bio-Management
Geoff & Debbie Bugden
Ph: 66243085 or 0410531561
email: [email protected]
Plus educational courses for sustainable
and biological farming practices
BFA Registered Products
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
affairs of tropo
Farmscaping for beneficials
r Linda Thompson lectures on Zoology/
Entomology at the Uni. of Melbourne as
she has done for the last 25 years. She
was introduced to us by Alanna Danne,
who completed her Honours studies
under her direction, and who is currently carrying out
her PhD research into our infamous Fruit Spotting Bug
on local TROPO and Soilcare farms.
Dr Thompson has been active in research to
determine whether beneficials in farm areas contribute
to productivity, and also if crop chemical sprays have
an impact on this potential. To measure this takes much
time and resources and consumer pressure on producers
has been important in industry bodies allotting funds for
these types of projects. Farmers, their families and staff,
are also becoming increasingly aware that chemicals are
a risk and from recognising that they work and live in
this environment are interested in reducing/eliminating
its use. Also there is a growing requirement to back up
“clean and green”with real data for export markets.
Her work has consistently shown that retaining
natural areas, planting habitat and food source, and
managing living groundcover contribute ssignificantly
to pest species control. This is shown by counting
beneficials on yellow sticky traps and also counting
ground living species in pitfall traps, both positioned
throughout the crop area. This concurs with many
worldwide studies showing reduced need for pesticide
sprays, or the capability
of these features to
reduce the need for
pesticide sprays.
Managing groundcovers
and/or mulching
provides for much
higher biocontrol
potential than the
ubiquitous kill strip.
Her work proves this
is true. Thus spraying
out under the canopy
increases the need for
pest management in
the crop! Spraying out
ground cover increases
David Forrest
the need for added fertilisers due to the loss of roots
and the biological organisms which live around them!
Holy holism, maybe Organic farming practises are an
ecologically sound food production system.
Importantly, this work shows that we can retain
efficiencies in producing single crops by retaining
or enhancing the diversity surrounding it (natural
vegetation or windbreaks), and within it (internal
windbreaks, planted unsuitable slopes, watercourses,
managed groundcovers) which are far more influential
to diversity than growing more species as crops.
Her work has attempted to quantify the values of
habitat and she has extrapolated measured data to show
how many beneficials are hosted. This is given value
when the purchase costs of either buying beneficials or
chemical spray applications are calculated. Alternatively
this can also give benefit values against the cost of
planting farm areas. She has also shown that enhancing
biological control potential lessens the risk of new
pests becoming established in an area, inhibits the rise
of secondary pests and lowers the level of resistance in
She has devised a formula to total harmful affects
of sprays on beneficials using toxicity ratings and the
number of pesticide applications to score harm. This can
be used by growers to back up decisions not to spray, as
there are strong correlations found in her research data
that biocontrol is harmed. This helps growers get off
the pesticide roundabout as increased biocontrol stops
pest populations from resurgence after sprays. It also
encourages moves to less broadspectrum, low residual
more specific materials or methods. Interestingly her
work has also shown pesticide use debilitates the
reproductive function of beneficials. There is much
data from other work to show the same correlation with
fauna including humans.
The work Dr Thompson has done is an example of
real opportunity for food security, lowering production
risk, pesticide need, and creating synergism with soil
fertility and environmental enhancement. If only the
money spent inventing and registering new chemicals
for crops was spent wisely to further work like this.
Let’s support Alana Danne to carry this further
throughout her career.
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
affairs of tropo
Loradel Park
e started Loradel Park over ten
years ago from a virgin bush block
which made organic certification
relatively easy. The property was
selectively cleared and segregated
into 6 rotational cell grazing paddocks, a quarantine
area, an olive grove, market garden and a small airstrip
that can also be grazed.
The paddocks have been pasture improved by
aeration, slashing before weed flowering and adding
lime. Each paddock has its own dam filled by on farm
catchment. The boundary fencing is 7 strand barb, plain
and electric to deter feral pests, the separation fencing
is electric, also solar powered. Our livestock’s main
function is manure production. The cattle are in rotation
with our horses which helps interrupt the worm life
cycle and all manure is collected to deter parasite reinfestation.
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
The olive grove and market garden have been fenced
with stock mesh as a physical barrier against rabbits
and kangaroos. There is a mobile chicken tractor pen
that is moved daily and fertilises the olive trees while
protecting the chooks who produce eggs.
The market garden consists of 24, 80 x 10m beds
on a 5 degree slope to the north to ensure optimum
sun penetration and drainage. Irrigation is piped
underground from inter connected dams to 154 impact
sprinklers. There are four cross spoon drains to limit
erosion and return any surplus water to the main dam.
We utilise a row
crop system in
raised beds so all
crops can be worked
with standardised
implements. Our
summer crops are
mainly zucchini and
button squash in
rotation with green
manure and our winter
crop is russian garlic
also in rotation with
green manure.
Fertiliser is supplied from
our livestock manure, soiled
nest box material from
chickens, worm castings
from our worm farm and
biochar manufactured on
farm. These ingredients are
incorporated and shredded.
Plant residue is composted,
mulched and returned to the
A 20 x 8 m grow tunnel has been constructed that produces
mainly tomatoes in rotation with beans. It has a solar powered
irrigation system that delivers the rain water captured from our
machine shed.
We have our own refrigerated transport to ensure freshness.
We have designated on-farm tracks for vehicle and machinery
movement to limit soil compaction and a wildlife refuge to which
we have added more native plantings.
Loradel Park has developed as planned even if a little
behind schedule, at least we have had a glimpse of the
light at the end of the tunnel! We have a more efficient
process and packing area to build and amenities to put
into place before we can open to the public. Mother
nature willing we will see you at the market.
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
The fluoridation fight
Lismore and the Northern Rivers have a long history
of opposition to the fluoridation of the water supply. It
is one of the last bastions in preventing the complete
coverage of NSW being fluoridated.
In the last five years the NSW Government, through
the Department of Health, have placed unprecedented
pressure on Councils and individual Councillors to
fluoridate the Rous Water supply. This climaxed last
year when Rous Councillors were threatened that they
would be personally liable and would be acting illegally
if they did not approve the construction of four Fluoride
plants at Corndale, Clunes, Dourrougby and Marom
Creek. Finally a Councillor acceded to the stand-over
bully tactics and changed his vote to push it through.
Notwithstanding the health issues and environmental
uncertainty of releasing tonnes of highly toxic Fluoride
waste into the river system the fact remains that the
community was never consulted and our elected
representatives have succumbed to allegedly illegal
A court case bought by local resident Al Oshlack has
commenced challenging the Rous decision and that the
Lismore Council’s 2006 approval for the go ahead to
fluoridate the water supply within the LCC boundaries
had lapsed.
Rous have retained Senior and Junior counsel
Barrister ($10k per day) and Blakes Dawson one of the
biggest legal (and not cheap) legal firms in the country.
The capital costs of constructing of the Fluoridation
plants is well in excess of $2.2 million plus Rous will
be spending around $250k upwards for the case set
down for June 21st in the Land and Environment Court.
On March 14 Rous lawyers are attempting to strike
out the proceedings on grounds that there is no law
in NSW, including all environmental and planning
legislation, that overides the Fluoridation Act 1957.
Mr Oshlack has retained a Barrister and is in the
midst of fundraising to cover his legal costs of around
$7k to defend the right to have the Court determine
the challenge against Rous, Lismore and Ballina Shire
Council decision to construct the fluoridation plants and
add fluoride to the water supply.
When asked how it was all going, Al replied, “I
think we have a strong case, but what gets me is how
Rous and Department of Health can spend millions on
constructing and legally defending these toxic fluoride
plants while the Lismore Hospital, which is screaming
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
out for funding, resources and medical staff, is told
there is no money.
“ Fluoridation along with tobacco, uranium and
asbestos are part of the elaborate dirty secret cover up’s
of the 20th century and should be halted once and for
“ I am so appreciative of how our community is
standing up to these stand over merchants who come
into town after town and just force fluoridation against
popular will.”
his is the story about Roger. A scrawny
little rooster, who was bullied by roosters
and chickens alike. One day we found him
in a pen, cowering in a corner, his head
all bleeding from the attacks he suffered.
We took pity on him and adopted him in a pen near the
Roger became so tame, he would scamper in the
house, eat the cat food and preen himself in the mirror.
He stopped being shy and often came to talk to us.
We decided to give him a silky hen for company. Her
name was Babette. She was a talkative girl and always
rushing here and there.
The life of our chickens
and the chickens in our life
Roger and Babette had their little differences but they
managed to produce six baby Silkeys. Roger proved to
be a perfect father, allowing his kids to sit on his back,
or under his wings when they were cold.
Roger is the only rooster to be a father to his
offspring as far as I know. He got to the ripe old age of
twelve years when he died in his sleep.
Here is Roger and his floozie in a cartoon made by
my friend Sophie. Sophie was enchanted by Roger
and Babette, she watched, sketched and immortalised
our favourite Roger and his floozie Babette, in many
Rita Oort
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
This week V
“Does C
Sarah and Jyoti — Unequivocally
Jane and Josie — It seems to be a big thing happening
now, I had no idea it was happening until lately and I’m
glad that there are lots of people looking into it.
Georgina — Apart from the environmental
issue, the simple fact that farmers love their
land and they have the amenity of their
land taken away by
someone else who
hasn’t paid for it and
gives a piss poor
royalty and we have to
put up with the residue
and all the fraccing.
Tom and Arlen (left)
— Absolutely. Given
the serious threats of
climate change it is
irresponsible to be
investing any money in
fossil fuels at expense of
investment in renewable
energy. Australia needs
to be users of 100%
renewable energy in 10
years, AND WE CAN
Dave — An
is causing tr
water don’t
Don’t use a
it’s more im
than where
we have to
Cat — Yes
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
Vanessa Eden asked,
Coal Gas Mining fracc you off”
David — I don’t know an awful lot about it but if they using
unethical practices, which I’m sure they are ... then yes - it’s all
really dirty stuff
ny one messing with water
rouble, don’t mess with
t mess with farm land.
as much energy as you do,
mportant to use less energy
that energy comes from ...
learn to use less energy.
Susie (right) — As far as I can tell coal
seam gas has no positives, it is incredibly
disappointing that we continue to have policies
made by governments that support moneycentric organisations. Can anything good come
out of it? Only if the momentum garnered
by stopping this will carry us forward to
stop some of the other
ridiculous things our
society puts up with.
Jasper — Yes
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
local community
From floods to life coaching @ the market
f you recently visited the organic market in
Lismore on Tuesday morning you may have
noticed a little round table with tablecloth in
the middle of the market away from the other
tables. You may also have noticed a green sign
and leaflets that proclaim a new free community service,
“Life Coaching sessions on a topic of your choice”. So
what’s all that about?
It all started when Gwen Channer, an organic
gardener who is also a certified life coach, felt due to
the major floods that she wanted to reach out and offer
a chance to anyone interested to experience and be
helped by life coaching, whether they could afford to or
not. And so she decided to set up this free community
service at the Lismore organic market.
Normally Gwen does her coaching work
internationally via the phone or Skype (internet phone).
To be able to work internationally while at the same
time living on a rural property is a definite advantage of
our modern day technology. However, it is the barefoot
in the garden (ancient technology) that fuels Gwen’s
batteries so that she can have full attention for her
Life coaching is a strongly growing profession as
life coaches are more and more in demand in not only
the corporate and business worlds but also for personal
situations. Gwen feels that one cannot really separate
working life from personal life as they are part of the
total sum of one’s life.
A life coach is not a therapist nor a consultant. An
important difference is that a coach does not need to
know more than their clients. It is all about listening
and responding to the client rather than advising or
Share your tips
We would love to hear about your
labour-saving hints
[email protected] or
PO Box 5076 ,
East Lismore NSW 2480
fixing. A life coach will listen deeply and ask questions
to draw the answers out of the client’s own knowing.
Of course a coach can offer suggestions that the coach
feels could be beneficial for the client.
Life coaching can be very effective because it is a cocreative relationship without an authority figure. Both
client and coach use all of their knowledge, skills and
intuition to come to solutions and plans of action (or
less or no action as the case may be).
Gwen’s life coaching is all about truthful dialogue
and inspiring new perspectives which create big shifts
in thinking, action and life in general. To be most
effective coaching is best done on a regular basis
as this continuity builds a foundation of trust and
forward movement. Even so a one off session alone,
or occasional sessions, can be very enlightening and is
better than none.
A coach holds no agenda other than the client’s
and this offers a great opportunity to find clarity and
inspiration. You do not need to have a problem to
benefit from coaching. In fact many very successful
people out in the big wide world use personal life
coaches. They see it as an investment in a process that
gets them where they want to be more quickly.
So if you are interested come to the Tuesday Lismore
Organic Market for a free 15 minute life coaching
session on a topic of your choice; personal, parenting,
career, health, business, relationships, work, etc. All
sessions are 100% confidential. Sessions are available
from 9am to 11am.
wanted: Organic certified citrus (all), watermelon
(pref sugar baby), rhubarb (deep crimson / red only),
strawberries, mango, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, etc ... or any local fruit that’s a good colour and
taste, call to discuss. Fair price paid. Spray free considered for some fruit. 04 0607 5266 John or Benna [email protected]
NEW fruit and Veg Manager at Santos, Byron Bay.
Local, fresh, Certified Organic produce wanted.
Andrew Woods 0415 039 618
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
Fracc off and leave us alone
he Northern Rivers
Region now finds itself
contemporary with the
national situation, the
monster is in the room
and there is no doubt about who the
monster is: It is the Coal Seam Gas
Mining Industry!
Many people ask why
particular concern with CSG.
That is the question and we will
revisit it shortly, but first let’s
contextualise our local situation.
In the last few years we have
seen (simply by watching the
news) state governments sign
away hundreds of billions, yes
billions of dollars worth of gas
all across the continent in every
state of Australia. The market
is basically China and Japan.
The gas is to be delivered in the
next thirty years by pipeline to
the vessel delivery; that is to
ships waiting offshore. Amidst
much fanfare we are gearing up
for a new clean gas era; we are
gearing up nationally for a new
national mining industry.
We in the Clarence-Moreton
Basin, which underlies the surface
biology from Grafton through
the Northern Rivers, then up into
Southern Queensland, are living
over the most abundant gas seams
in NSW. There has been at least 47
penetrations of the aquifers to date
or drill sites put in across the region
in Keerrong, Lismore, Tabulam,
Casino, Urbenville, Woodenbong to
name a few. The capture and release
of this gas will depend on hydraulic
fracturing. To put it simply, they
have already geared up to rip up the
northern rivers simultaneously with
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
the rest of the country. We consider
it the greatest threat that Australia
has ever faced and will explain why.
The national gas industry will be
80 percent dependent on hydraulic
fracturing to be economically viable.
Fraccing is the process of blasting
open aquifers under pressure with
sand, water and a highly toxic mix
of chemicals. We understand that
the use of chemicals is a huge issue
in itself but we in the Keerrong gas
squad do not want to be led away
from the heart of the issue — the
opening up of aquifers on a spring
fed, aquifer dependant continent.
At any given moment 70-80% of
Australia’s sweet water is under
the ground, water held by rock at
various depths within the geological
strata created over aeons. There
are various rock strata composed
naturally of different rock types
eg. basalt, quartzite, sandstone and
shale to name a few; it is these
geological rock strata that hold
water at a stasis under pressure. The
pressure can vary according to the
density and porosity and the level of
Doug of the Antigassquad
interference on the aquifer. The coal
seam is surrounded by gas at layers
from 400 metres to two kilometres
down. To reach the gas all aquifers
between the surface and the gas
have already been punctured, when
the geological strata that hold the
gas are shattered under pressure
what happens to the aquifers is
simply unknowable. One site can be
repeatedly fracced. They can drill
laterally as well as vertically. All
aquifers are inter-connected. The
findings of the Atomic Energy
Commission in 1978 revealed
that underground water is very,
very old, on the western edge
of the Great Artesian Basin it
was found to be upwards of half
a million years old and in the
Maitland aquifers it was found
to be one hundred thousand
years old. Seen through the
time frame of a larger lens we
can appreciate that this water is
hardly a renewable resource in
any immediate sense.
J. Habermahl and K.
Waterhouse writing ironically
for the mines department in the
sixties and seventies urged a harvest
of water based on the patterns of
recharge. The major recharge areas
of the GAB are the great divide
from the northern rivers to north
Queensland. Poison can travel
slowly and insidiously underground
and not be detected for decades. All
Australians pay for water. A farmer
wishing to put down a bore has to
get both a license and a quota and
the reason for this is to assure a
longevity of our most abundant and
precious resource, aquifer driven
underground water.
Evaporation pond near Casino
However, the mining companies
have all of these regulations and
checks and balances waived even
though they are fast becoming
the biggest users of sweet water
in the country. There are simply
no statistics able to measure
their use and abuse of water. In
the first instance they are in fact
mining water!!! And up to now
the government oversight as
to what they are signing away
has been negligible and their
investigation into the results of
the fraccing process have been
non-existent; We, the people, have
become responsible for this. The
government simply accepts the
assurances of the mining industry
whilst our survival possibilities are
being leached away.
When the water was found
to be polluted with heavy
carcinogens in recently fracced
sites in Queensland, the Queensland
Farmers Federation, the NSW
Farmers Federation and the National
Feedlot Association spearheaded
the process of demanding a
moratorium on the Coal seam Gas.
The farmers understand all too well
what damage to the underground
water systems means for us all and
we are with them but ask not for
a moratorium but simply an end
to this process. Fraccing aquifers
is an aberration! The process is
irremediable and the toxins that
are locked into the coal gas are
being and will be spread throughout
our aquifer system threatening all
waterways and
water systems
on a spring fed
continent, thus
all biological
life forms are threatened, not least
our own. In the Clarence Moreton Basin
we have as part of the water
management system Rous Water
administered by two councillors
from each council of the integrated
system — Richmond Valley
(Casino), Lismore, Ballina and
Byron Bay. They are currently
involved in the Reconnect To
Country Programme together with
the community to devise a system
that will offer long term water
quality and supply in the region.
The invasion by Red Sky, Arrow
Energy and the big one Metgasco
with the spectre of Shell-Petro
China standing behind them
puts this whole endeavour under
threat. We are waiting to see if the
Casino Council will approve the
construction of holding ponds, 12
hectares of them next to the Casino
airport. We believe that no council
within the Rous water system can
take independent decisions over
the entirety of our water supply.
Imagine 12 hectares of toxic water
balanced over a floodplain that
washes out in Ballina. The approach
by Rous Water has been varied but
the attempt is to clean the regional
water systems. We are in accord
with Rous with their intention to
extend operations further north to
extend water management into a
bioregional process as it was in the
past. We believe that our system
of government should be bio-
regionally based and bio-regions are
best understood through catchment
and integrated water management.
Of course our support is contingent
on their stance towards coal seam
gas mining and on the measures
they wish to adopt. And so is the
situation across the nation. We
have known of the alternatives
for decades but the complicity of
all levels of government with the
mining industry will not allow,
in fact ensures, that none of these
endeavours can flourish.
Doug and the Antigassquad can
be contacted on [email protected]
hotmail.com, they are also Keerrong
Gas Squad on facebook.
All Welcome
All TROPO members
are invited to attend
committee meetings which
are now held on the second
Tuesday of each month
after the LOM.
All members of the public
interested or involved in organic
gardening, farming and food —
and willing to be immediately
forced into slavery — are
welcome to become TROPO
members (see membership form,
page 23).
Seriously, even if you are not a
member but are just interested in
finding out more about organics
on the North Coast— or want
to help see it spread — call a
committee member.
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
Groundcovers for a soil health — farm tour
oilcare members, TAFE
Organic students and
interested farmers
were treated to a bus
tour of participating
biological and Organic farms
improving soil and farm health
with groundcovers.The Northern
Rivers CMA has supported this
and many other projects which
demonstrate environmental benefits
in farming systems. This active
interest, particularly by Gerry Ryan
our CMA officer, is an important
partnership to create real outcomes.
Bonnie Walker, Chair of Soilcare,
deserves praise for her consistent
hard work as catalyst for these
Geoff and Debbie Bugden
showed off their pecan orchard.
Their objective three years ago was
to establish ground covers (nitrogen
fixing legumes along with a range
of other grasses including smother
grass) to improve soil health and
reduce the amount of purchased
fertilizers, irrigation requirements
and fungal problems. Today they
have achieved some of the above
and are now improving what has
worked, along with making their
own compost, refining their fertilizer
program and establishing insectary
plantings. With this they hope to
establish a low risk farming method
for orchards on river flats.
Judy and Bob Howard conducted
a variety of ground cover trials
on their macadamia orchard, with
emphasis on improving biodiversity,
soil health and beneficial insect
Pam and Brian's macadamia
orchard is also planted with
groundcovers to promote
sustainability and productivity.
We don't have the detailed reports
here but the information sheets are
posted online for you to peruse at
your leisure, wiserearth.org/group/
tropo. If the internet doesn't do it for
you, drop the editor a line and she'll
see if she can work out another way
to get the information to you.
✓ 7iÊ«>ÞÊ̜«Ê«ÀˆViÃÊvœÀʵÕ>ˆÌÞÊ«Àœ`ÕVi
✓ ->Ûiʜ˜Ê«>VŽ>}ˆ˜}Ê>˜`ÊvÀiˆ}…Ì
✓ ii«ÊޜÕÀÊ«Àœ`ÕViÊ>˜`ʜÕÀʓœ˜iÞʏœV>
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
Organic News Snippets
A new report launched by the Worldwatch Institute
recognizes that the fight against hunger and climate
change will not be won using industrial agriculture.
‘State of the world: Innovations that nourish the
planet’ strongly supports the role of agroecological
farming methods in developing food security,
concurring with the International Assessment of
Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for
Development (IAASTD) report written by 400 scientists
and approved by 60 countries.
Emma Hockridge, head of policy at the Soil
Association (UK), said ‘This excellent and timely report
provides overwhelming evidence for the expansion
of agroecological farming systems such as organic, to
achieve food security for all. Organic farming systems
benefit biodiversity, are resilient in the face of climate
change, and have been shown to improve yields and the
ability of poor communities ... to feed themselves.’
Timothy LaSalle former Rodale Institute chief
executive officer estimates that if 434 million acres
of cropland in the United States shifted to organic
production, nearly 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide
could be sequestered annually, mitigating close to one
quarter of the country’s total fossil fuel emissions.
According to a Dutch government funded study —
Organic milk is the most researched with significant
findings in its favor. Organic milk and dairy products
contain more beneficial nutrients than non-organic —
because organic cows eat more grass (and conserved
grass in winter) and less unnatural feed like maize and
In total six studies have now found that organic milk
has more fat-soluble nutrients-omega 3 fatty acids,
vitamin E and beta-carotene than non-organic milk.
The most scientifically robust study is by Glasgow and
Liverpool Universities, which found that UK (whole)
organic milk has on average 68% higher levels of the
essential fatty acid omega 3 and a healthier omega 3:6
profile than non-organic milk.
Tropo News is brought to you by Cath ford from various
sources including The Ecologist, New Scientist, The
Independent Newspaper (UK); The New York Times
(USA)The Soil Association (UK); CBS and NBC news;
local and international internet services;
Western Farm Press.
The Dutch research provides us with proof of an actual
health impact from organic food.
Lack of support for organic farming in Wales has
prompted farming unions to demand that the Welsh
Assembly government recognize the extra proven
environmental benefits delivered by organic farmers
by increasing the agri-environmental payments under
Glastir. Under the proposed Glastir scheme farmers
in England will be getting more than double the
maintenance payments of their Welsh counterparts –
receiving £60 per hectare under the Organic Entry Level
Scheme rather than £28.
As the GM industry continues to peddle the myth
that GM crops are needed to ‘feed the world’ scientific
evidence is proving otherwise. The recent Foresight
report on the future of food and farming, published by
the UK government’s Office of Science, estimated that
the application of existing knowledge and technology
could increase yields two to three fold in many parts of
Africa. It too supported research in agroecology, as a
way of getting substantial increases in productivity and
Evidence is mounting too of the problems for
farming caused by growing GM crops. Weed resistance
to glyphosate has become a major problem in GM
herbicide tolerant crops in North and South America,
whilst the cost of GM seeds is cutting into farmers’
incomes is the USA.
The GM FREE label is the fastest growing grocery
label in the USA and the earths second largest
supermarket, Carrefour, recently made the move to label
foods derived from animals fed on non-GM diets after
research revealed that 96% of consumers backed honest
labeling and 63% would stop eating products from
animals reared on GM feed.
Boca Burgers - a popular so-called ‘natural’ brand
of veggie burgers owned by Kraft foods work hand
in hand with Monsanto to lace common foods with
genetically modified ingredients, with absolutely no
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
labeling or safety-testing required and in many cases
these products are marketed as ‘natural’. Kraft, one of
the USA’s largest food companies, has perfected the
art of turning GM crops and animals raised in factory
farms on GMO feed and injected with Monsanto’s (now
Elanco’s) rBGH, into food. Whilst Kraft or Boca claims
to offer what they describe as ‘non-gmo’ version of its
soy foods, these products are neither certified organic or
monitored by the Non-GMO Project, so it’s impossible
to verify their claims. Likewise Back to Nature, another
so called ‘natural’ Kraft Brand claims that some of the
corn and soy ingredients in their non-organic foods
are ‘non-genetically modified’, however – again, these
claims are not verifiable.
Every bride wants to look stunning on her wedding
day, and princess-to-be, Kate Middleton, seems to be no
exception. For the last year or so, she has reformed her
habits. She reportedly makes sure she is not tempted by
fattening snacks by always eating and cooking healthy
organic food. Organic porridge in the morning, organic
fruit and nuts at morning tea, salads, chicken, turkey and
tuna. She is sure to get the ‘royal’ tick of approval from
her future father in law Prince Charles!
‘The Mind, once stretched by an empowering idea,
can never fully shrink to its original dimensions’- Oliver
Wendell Holmes, paraphrased.
A leading organic charity has raised concerns
about misleading labeling on supposedly eco-friendly
garden centre products. In a survey conducted by
Garden Organic and consumer watchdogs, found
consumers have been confounded by products labelled
‘natural’ or ‘organic’ and thought that the two were
Dr. Margi Lenartsson of Garden Organic said
consumers were being ‘duped’ into buying products.
‘It’s great that the industry is addressing the need and
demand for more sustainable products, but the current
approach to labeling is leading to a lack of clarity and
this needs to be addressed.’
Cheers Cath
* The editor would like to note that something labelled
organic doesn’t mean certified organic. Only something
with a certifiying bodies logo on it is certified organic.
Hot off the press ... by the Editor
An open letter has been sent to US Secretary of
Agriculture outlining the discovery of a, ‘previously
unknown organism’. At the size of a medium-size
virus this reproducing micro-fungal-like organism
appears the be the first of it’s kind. There is evidence
that it promotes disease in both plants and animals,
and is found in high concentrations in Roundup Ready
soybean meal ... find out more at our wiserearth site or
on facebook.
Germany is the biggest consumer in
Europe of organic produce with a share
of 32% in the region. Asian organic food
markets are set to grow at an estimated
CAGR of 20.6% from 2010 to 2015. Japan
leads the Asian countries in terms of organic
food consumption with nearly 54% of the
share in 2010.
The Global organic food and beverages
market is expected to grow from US$57.2
billion in 2010 to US$104.5 billion in 2015 at
an estimated CAGR of 12.8%
The organic food and beverages market
is also expected to benefit from subsidies,
financial aids and R&D programmes
conducted by different government and
non-government organizations such as FiBL
(Switzerland), APEDA (India) and USDA
(US) to support conventional farmers switch
to organic farming.
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
cover crops
Giant sorgham
o me a cover crop is a monoculture species
used as a farming tool to allow another
crop to benefit. Two that I have used
successfully are giant sorghum and lablab. Here I am going to discuss my uses of
giant sorghum and in the next magazine I will discuss
Lab-lab. I will discuss how the use of these species
benefitted me at the time, place and conditions of use. It
doesn’t necessarily follow that they will benefit you at
the time, place and conditions of your use.
I first used giant sorghum when I grew tomatoes. My
main interest was that sorghum wasn’t a host to root
knot nematodes, a major pest for tomatoes. By monoculturing my tomato growing area with the sorghum
I left no host crop for the nematodes. The cover crop
doesn’t kill nematodes, it simply deprives the nematodes
of food and a home. If the area is nematode rich they
will return. By rotating sorghum and tomatoes you get
to sneak in a crop before the nematodes repopulate. Of
course, tomatoes have more pests than nematodes and a
7 year rotation gives much better overall results.
The books all tell you that marigolds kill nematodes.
Before I tried the sorghum approach I planted 50 000
marigolds on my tomato growing area. The sorghum
was totally effective while the marigolds showed no
discernable benefit.
Growing sorghum had many more benefits than just
lessening the nematode numbers but at that stage of my
agricultural knowledge one win was enough.
David Roby
move very slowly down through the soil profile so you
need to be able to make use of every soil incorporation
to help them.
I should note here that this orchard was planted on
flat ground. Orchards on slopes may need different
approaches. Also I will refrain from giving application
quantities as they would be pertinent to my soil and
conditions and understanding and may be very different
for you.
First, I devegetated the whole block by forage
harvesting. I made compost with the vegetation and
returned it to the tree sites after the construction process.
I then gave the block its background fertilizer – metal
dust, rock phosphate, dolomite and composted chicken
I then deep ploughed the block resulting in mounds
slightly higher than the in-between gaps. Nowadays
I would probably forget the mounds and disc the soil
instead of ploughing.
Then I seeded the whole block with giant sorghum.
From memory, I think this was done in spring.
Nowadays I would probably add some winter ground
covers to the seeding process so that when the sorghum
dies off in winter the clovers and peanuts etc will
The third time I planted an avocado orchard I made
use of the successes and the failures of the first two
Next I deep ripped the tree rows. If you tie a fertilizer
bag around the top of the ripper shaft you end up with
an open furrow. I measured out, staked and fertilized
each tree site, pulling in the sides of the furrow with a
chipping hoe around each site. Now the furrow is still
open except where the tree will be planted. Irrigation
lines are laid in the furrow but they come out of the
ground with a loose loop a metre each side of the tree
stake. This allows two metres of exposed line around
each tree so that when the tree trunk is a metre thick it
doesn’t compromise the irrigation line. It also allows
you to start with one sprinkler per young tree and move
to multiples as the tree ages.
When you plant an orchard there are some jobs
that are better and easier done before you plant the
trees. Spreading metal dust from a spreader truck, for
example, allows you to apply 10 tonne to the acre easily
without harming sensitive young trees. Some fertilizers
By this stage the sorghum should be getting some
useful height. A good time for tree planting would
be when the soil at the planting site has settled
and absorbed the nutrient, the sorghum is at least a
metre high and the conditions are mild. This type of
Over the years I have planted avocado orchards on 3
separate occasions, mainly because I couldn’t afford all
the trees in one hit. I’m a great believer in doing things
three times. Like focusing a camera, you go too far in
one direction then too far in the opposite direction and
then settle in the sweet spot.
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
cover crops
preparation means that the tree holes can be dug by
hand easily. The planted trees should now be protected
from sun and wind by the sorghum which will grow to
three or four metres high.
light to penetrate germinating the ground covers that
were spread with the sorghum. I have also at times re
broadcast sorghum seed in spring and got a second crop
without attempting to cover the seed.
As soon as the sorghum reaches these heights I slash
one side of the tree row. The sorghum can be cut 2 or
3 times and still reach its tallest position before dying
in the winter. After I cut one side of the row I rake the
mulch onto the avocado mound. This constant mulching
really gets the biological organisms happening in the
mound. As the cut side regenerates the other side is cut
and added to the mound. Now the tree is being protected
from one side at a time but it is enough to protect the
tree until it develops its own structural integrity.
One season of sorghum is enough to overcome
grasses like kikuyu if you get a good enough strike rate.
I’ve never tried to calculate the enormous amount of
organic matter that is added to the soil but when you
consider three cuts of 4 metre crop, it must be huge and
greatly appreciated by the soil population.
When the sorghum dies in winter it remains
standing and protecting the young trees but allows
Giant sorghum is readily available at any agricultural
supply business. None of the seed produced by the crop
is viable so after winter the sorghum has disappeared
leaving organic matter and happy micro-organisms.
Fruit Fly Exclusion Bags
Fruit flies are a common problem around most Australian gardens.
With the help of our reusable exclusion bags you can protect your fruit from
these pests without using any harmful chemicals.
300 x 350 - Small - $2
600 x 500 - Large - $3
600 x 300 - Small - $2
900 x 350 - Large - $3
(Reduced prices on orders of 10 or more)
Bigger orders better prices
*Commercial organic growers wanted for trial*
Contact David on: 0240327158 or 0419594697
[email protected]
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
the home gardener
What to plant
March to May
In my garden
oping with extremes
of continuous wet
and then hot and
dry conditions takes
the comfort from
our garden plants. The benefit of
having developed well structured,
humic topsoil makes the difference
under these conditions. Not that
all is perfect, but plants can cope
rather than cark it. When drainage is
paramount it’s this soil structure that
gives aeration and allows water to
move through the profile, instead of
backing up and fostering pathogens
to feed on a stressed root system.
This water, though, doesn’t leach
nutrients because the humus has
10 times the ability to hold them
as does clay. So the plants remain
well fed, with the important macro
and trace elements, the plant uses
to protect itself, available. The
same effects help in the reverse
situation of hot and dry. Foliar top
ups become useful in the wet and
the dry to assist this process, and
as they are applied in an Organic
Beans, beetroot, all cabbage
family, carrots, endives, herb
cuttings, kohl rabi, lettuce, leeks,
onions, garlic, parsnip, peas,
radish, rhubarb crowns, silverbeet,
strawberries, tomatoes.
Dave Forrest
form also carry and feed foliage
microbes. Having this background
fertility particularly comes to the
fore when there are extremes. Of
course adding water in dry times is
possible, whereas stopping rainfall
is not. A dry space to start seedlings
increases their health rather than
being stressed and susceptible. The
foliars of fish hydrolysate, liquid
calcium and potassium silicate
promote strong cells, having boron
through the fish or foliar Solubor
allows the plant to make its natural
protective compounds.
All this has helped the zuchinnis,
beans, tomatoes and cucumbers
make it through and keep bearing
even though they are all disease
susceptible with the continuous
wet. Two weeks into the heat the
broccoli was ready from “Early
Risers”. What it needs, apart from
a bit of shade from pole beans, is
protection from Cluster caterpillars.
They’ll take out the growing point
and there’s no recovery, so get on
their case and keep the Bt weekly
until they back off as it cools down
in March. Then you only need to
monitor for cabbage white which
eats big leaves but is less threat.
Some plants, like Snake beans,
thrive in the heat. They have a
different growth and flowering habit
to the others but are prolific. As it
cools a move to the winter bearing
plants gets easier, but if you have
a warm frost free position all the
summer types can be planted until
early April. Check out the planting
guide for all these types.
At the moment there is a mild
spell with good sun and a little rain,
plants that had help to get going
are now powering, and big enough
to take advantage. Don’t forget to
weed them before they need it —
it’s the only way to succeed.
earth friendly fare
Bunya nut pesto
Sue Mangan
1 bunch of basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
200 ml macadamia or olive oil
200g finely chopped cooked bunya
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
To serve
Blend basil, garlic and olive oil. Add
bunya nuts, parmesan cheese, salt and
pepper, and mix well.
Stir through cooked pasta, over steamed
or baked potatoes, through steamed rice
Use as a dip, on a pizza base
or a cheese plate
To cook bunya nuts, boil
in water for 20 minutes, until
they split at the pointed end
.Insert sharp heavy knife into
the split and cut open into
halves. Remove the yellow
‘sprout’ and then use the nut
as you would any nut or as a
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
Get into organics — join TROPO now
TROPO Membership Form
To join the Tweed Richmond Organic Producers’
Organisation (ABN: 43 805 045 275), fill out the
following form and send cheque or money order for
$28 to: TROPO, PO Box 5076, East Lismore, NSW
2480. Please make cheques and money orders payable
to ‘TROPO’.
Organic certification type
Total Land area (ha)
Producing now (ha)
To be developed (ha)
Would you like to be included in a list of members
available to other members? YES/NO
Phone (wk)
Phone (hm)
Going Organic #83, March-May 2011
Can you help in TROPO organisational activities?
Skills to share
Information/experience wanted
Special Interests
Alternative Technology — Paul Jessop 6621 2465
Avocados — David Roby 6628 1084
[email protected]
Bananas — Tony Lattanzi 6676 4264
Citrus — Phil Buck 6677 1421
Coffee — Rod Bruin 6679 2012
Food Nutrition — Tony Stillone 6621 8007
Macadamias/Custard Apples — Dave Forrest 6688 4346
[email protected]
Permaculture/Small Crops/Sheep — Hogan Gleeson
6689 9217
Poultry — Rita Oort 6688 8307
Organic Foods — Russell Scott 6689 1668
Climate Change Action Network — Alan Roberts
6663 5224 [email protected]
Going Organic
Maureen Pedersen 6636 4307 [email protected]
Dave Forrest 6688 4346 (ah) [email protected]
Dave Roby 6628 1084 [email protected]
Steve McAlpin [email protected]
Alan Dow [email protected]
Alan Roberts 6663 5224 [email protected]
Carol Boomsma
Registered by Australia Post Print Post No.
TROPO Committee 2011-12
TROPO ABN 43 805 045 275
Those listed below generally give a lot of time to TROPO
and make their phone numbers available for contact by
members and other interested in organics. Please remember
all have ongoing commitments to their families, farms or jobs
so phone between 8.30 am and 8.30 pm.
If unclaimed please return to
Tweed Richmond Organic Producers’ Organisation
PO Box 5076, East Lismore, NSW 2480
Get in touch with TROPO
Going Organic Magazine
Editor — Susie Godden 6689 9338
[email protected]
Advertising — 6689 9338
[email protected]
Contributions welcome
Winter ’11 Contributions due: May 10, 2011
Copyright 2011 TROPO and individual authors. Material in Going
Organic may not be reproduced without permission. Please consult
the editor.
Opinions expressed by contributors to Going Organic are not
necessarily those of the editor or of other TROPO committee
Every effort is made to publish accurate information and
stimulating opinion, but neither TROPO nor the editor accepts
responsibility for statements made or opinions expressed or implied
on these pages.
Such statements or opinions should not be taken as professional
TROPO on the Web