Sunday, 22 February 2015

Landcare brings together beekeepers, landowners and agroforestry

The South Gippsland Landcare Network (SGLN) is a very active Landcare group with a keen interest in the important role bees play in terms of food security.  To highlight the role bees play in agriculture, SGLN recently organised an event called "Do you want bees in your bushland? Opportunities for landowners and beekeepers" at Berry CreekWith an interest in bees and land in the area, we were keen to attend. Although we arrived on time, we were lucky to get a seat - a crowd of over 100 turned up!

One of the guest speakers, Mark Leech, author of the book "Bee Friendly: A planting guide for European honeybees and Australian native pollinators" came from Tasmania to present at the event. We have a copy of his book and can highly recommend it if you are considering planting for bee forage. Mark set the scene for why we should care about what's happening to bees and the problems they're facing. He then talked about how we could all help bees be strong and vital by planting abundant, quality pollen sources.

Mark taking the audience through why bees are important. (Photo SGLN)
Plants planted for a variety of outcomes such as pasture, crops, food, decorative plants, farm forestry, revegetation and restoration, can all be useful sources of pollen for bees. By taking that into consideration farmers, landowners and home gardeners can make planting choices to benefit bees. Mark is a forester with a strong interest in agroforestry. He is very enthusiastic about growing high-value timber on farms for multiple beneficial outcomes including encouraging bees for honey and pollination.

Another of the speakers, Howard Stevens from South Gippsland Beekeepers, gave a talk on local beekeeping and honey production. This was a great opportunity for farmers and landholders to get an idea of what beekeeping involves, how farming practices affect bees and the potential for beekeeping to act as an additional income stream. Local beekeepers, some of them farmers, spoke about how they got into beekeeping. They all stressed the importance of being able to hook up with an experienced mentor - something helped by joining a local beekeeping club. The synergy between bees, honey production and Landcare was also highlighted.

Howard Stevens (left) with local beekeepers
(Photo SGLN)

At the risk of making you all groan, there was a real buzz in the air at the end of the night, with farmers, landholders and beekeepers chatting about future possibilities.  As a direct result of community interest SGLN will soon be launching an online match-making service linking beekeepers with farmers in Gippsland.  Wouldn't it be great if this level of interest was nationwide?

This was the first of SGLN's events to focus on bees - stay tuned as there will be more events to come. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Learning to crochet

Years ago I bought a book full of crochet projects with the intention of teaching myself how to crochet.  Somehow I always got side-tracked with knitting and never seemed to find the time.

Over the Christmas break I dug out the book. Called Simple Crochet by Erika Knight, it really did have some nice things in it to make.

I thought I'd try and make the circular cushion on the cover:

Checking in the stash I found some 8 ply natural coloured cotton yarn and a crochet hook.  I started off by making a simple square in the 'double crochet' stitch - the same stitch used in the cushion pattern. The book has good instructions for each of the stitches:

 It took a me a few goes to get the hang of it. 

Once I was happy with the square I started on the cushion. It is made up of 2 circles that are 40 cm in diameter, joined at the edges by a row of crochet.  On those days where it was too hot to go outside I worked away on my circles.  Eventually I got them both done:

Now all I need is a round cushion insert so I can complete the project. That has proved pretty tricky to find so I think I'll end up having to make one.  Oh well, it'll get done...........eventually.