Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta – The Final Report

In 2008 Tim Darby and Shani Graham from The Painted Fish hosted the first Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta. The Fiesta featured the opening of The Painted Fish South Beach Eco Village with the Australian Open Garden Scheme, in conjunction with a series of stalls, demonstrations and activities with a sustainable focus, flavoured with food and music. This event was a great success, providing a focus for the creative and environmental efforts of the Hulbert Street community and attracting an estimated 2000 visitors. The 2009 Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta held on Saturday and Sunday September 19th and 20th 2009  built on this success, expanding the educative and participative content in response to a growing interest in sustainability of the Hulbert Street residents and the broader community. Despite a cloudy and cold weekend with several showers, this year over 5,000 people visited the street over the two day event. The vision behind the Fiesta was one of celebrating sustainable living, encouraging people to take on a more sustainable lifestyle by coming to visit us  and demonstrating the most sustainable accommodation option in WA – The Painted Fish and Fremantle’s “Sustainable Street” – Hulbert Street. Sustainability and community are an important aspect of life on Hulbert Street, with over 25% of the houses being connected to their own solar power, over 50% of the houses growing some of their own food, regular street movies, community gardening days and fun social events ensuring people in the street are well connected and in a perfect situation to host the Fiesta. This report outlines some of the major initiatives undertaken in 2009, describes some of the Fiesta highlights, provides a financial report and outlines some recommendations for the Fiesta next year. Funding the Fiesta – Sponsorship Applications to the City of Fremantle. Applications were made to the City of Fremantle for three different aspects of the Fiesta. (Please contact Shani Graham if you would like to see copies of these applications.) A Community Grant application was made for the pre Fiesta activities, including the street planting day, children’s scarecrow making workshop and Youth Tree Training Day. Although the Fiesta was successful in gaining funds from this source in 2008 for the Fiesta itself, the City has a policy of not funding the same event twice. While the application made was clearly for activities leading up to the Fiesta and not for the Fiesta itself, this application was not successful.  The reason given was that the activity had been funded previously. Freo First Funding was sought to pay for the coordination of the stalls over the weekend, part of the advertising costs and a marquee and seating over the weekend. An application was also made to Alex Hyndman, the City’s Sustainability Officer to pay for the Speakers Marquee and advertising for the Fiesta. Alex liased with officers from Freo First and a total of $4,400 (including GST) was granted for the Fiesta from the Sustainability Initiatives Budget. Other funding sources included stall holder fees, donations from a Melville Living Smart Group and local members of parliament, a percentage of door takings from the Australian Open Garden at The Painted Fish and donations received from people visiting Tim and Shani’s home at #21. The budget report contains a full breakdown of income and expenditure, including an estimated value of the in kind support donated by residents to run the Fiesta. Advertising the Fiesta This year’s Fiesta poster featured a painting by local artist Tim Darby, entitled “Growing Community”. His whimsical water colour caricatures are popular with adults and children. Tim donated the use of this image to the Fiesta. Kate Lindsay, a local graphic designer from Coagency and Hulbert Street resident, designed postcards and a poster advertising the Fiesta, and coordinated the printing of the this advertising material. All graphic design work was kindly donated by Kate. Postcards were distributed early in August to interested stall holders and others. Posters were displayed in prominent businesses and public spaces around Fremantle and the greater Perth metropolitan region. An article in the Herald newspaper about a month before the Fiesta featured information about some of the pre Fiesta activities and called for stall holders and buskers to participate. The Feista poster image was also used as the basis for a special “wrap around” the Fremantle Herald newspaper, which was distributed to all households in the Fremantle area the weekend before the Fiesta. This wrap had information about the Fiesta and articles featuring different aspects of the weekend including features about Sandra Black, a resident ceramic artist, Fiona Dunham and her efforts in recycling, Nadia and Kylie’s plans for the scarecrow making workshops, and interviews with Chris Ferriera from Great Gardens, emphasising the speakers at the Living Smart Speakers Tent. Full page ads were also purchased for other versions of the Herald newspaper in Cockburn and Melville, and a final full page ad on the weekend of the Fiesta. The Herald newspaper was very supportive of the event and provided organisers with discounted advertising opportunities. Local letter drops made sure all residents in the area around Hulbert Street were aware of the weekend, and informed of the expected increase in traffic etc over the weekend. Many local residents assisted before and over the weekend. All local schools advertised the Fiesta in their school newsletters. ABC 720 local radio was contacted about the event, and due consideration was given to broadcasting from the street on the Saturday morning of the Fiesta. While this did not eventuate, Shani was interviewed on the morning of the event and listeners were encouraged to attend during the popular “Roots and Shoots” program broadcast from 9- 10am on the Saturday of the Fiesta. The Fiesta was listed as a special event as part of the Australian Open Garden Scheme, and this meant it was not possible to make direct contact with other media. City of Fremantle media staff met with Shani and Tim and prepared a press release for the City’s website, but this was not taken

Chicken Soup – and no shops!

We live in a fairly high density street in South Freo WA. For the last two mornings we have been hearing a rooster at dawn. We lay in bed talking about how nice it was, hoped no one complained to the council (we all have chooks!), wondered where it was, if we could borrow it for breeding etc etc. The second morning I commented it sounded like it was still learning how to crow.  Tim suddenly said “what if it’s ours?” Friends had given us three baby bantams two weeks ago and sure enough – “Cauliflower” was crowing!   So I called my 65 year old mum (I grew up on an “urban farm” in Canada killing chickens and rabbits but I was only a child and so was not 100% sure I could remember what to do . . . .) Mum told us the first thing to do was relax the rooster by a process of hypnosis. Apparently chickens are not over endowed with intellect and so are excellent candidates for hypnosis. After about half an hour of my mum gently swinging a giant love heart bling in front of the chook, it was no  more relaxed but Tim was starting to look decidedly glassy eyed.   She and Tim had a lovely time “quieting” the rooster, plucking, gutting etc and today we had the most amazing chicken soup for lunch – all with veges from our suburban garden – potatoes, broccoli, spinach, carrots, corn (dried from last summer). What a feast (and not a shop in sight!!)   We invited a kid from down the road who was home sick – he commented that it felt a bit weird at first but he decided if you couldn’t kill your food you shouldn’t eat it!   But my favourite bit?  – seeing my mum and partner sitting side by side while they plucked the rooster, talking about growing food in your own backyard.

Busy Bee makes for a hive of activity

(written by Tim Darby) When you were a kid did your dad ever take you to a busy bee? I love ‘em.   When confronted with an insurmountable task, someone puts out the word, a whole bunch of people arrive and start running around (seemingly at random) and then, by beer o’clock, the wall has been built, the mountain of mulch has been moved or the playground has been installed. Everyone goes home tired but happy, wondering at the power of collaborative labour and puzzled as to why it doesn’t happen more often.   I guess that’s why we call it a busy bee – man following nature – a whole bunch of little critters buzzing about, working together.   So what could be a more appropriate for a busy bee activity than actually making a bee hive?   You’ve probably seen on TV how things works in a beehive – one of the bees with more information than the others will do a bit of a dance, shaking her tail around, telling everyone where to go.   In our case the guy shaking his tail was Peter. Pete’s a lovely bloke who luckily for us has a passion for relocalised food production (he only sells his honey within 65 kms of its production) and helping people to reconnect to where their food actually comes from.   We have been eating his honey for a while and he had been coming along to our community events for a while, when one day over a cup of tea (sweetened with his honey of course!) he offered to help me make my own bee hive. I invited one of the neighbourhood kids (who loves all things that creep and crawl), he invited some of his mates, and before long Shani sent out a street note and we invited everyone.   On the allotted day by the time Pete and his bee mates Ilka and Sangi arrived we had about 30 men, women and children buzzing about waving their borrowed battery drills like a dozen Dirty Harrys trying to make your day.   Amongst this noise and chaos, Pete’s beekeeper’s serenity calmed everyone down while he chatted about the pleasures and benefits of keeping bees. Did you know for instance that an average field bee works itself to death in just six weeks (it’s a bit like having a mortage) or that a well run hive can contribute up to 200 kilos of honey a year (enough for our whole street to share)?   Then Pete waggled his tail, and once again we flew into a frenzy of drilling screwing, hammering, threading stainless wire and working the wax into the frames. . . . .   One of the best things about the day was the age ranges of the people working together. Although our invitation called for kids with an adult to supervise them, Chloe (aged 20) brought her 47 year old mother because she was really interested in bees and Caroline (who is 84) came by herself because all her kids were busy.   Being a bit of a DIY guy, I also found it really exciting to see people of both genders and all ages getting hands on with the tools. Nobody lost any fingers and by the end of the day we were the proud producers of a solid and reasonably square bee hive.    Ah-  the power of collaboration.   But the story does not end there. Since the bee hive busy bee we have gone with Peter a few times to visit the hive, the first time to introduce a new queen. Apparently the queen provides the genetic material for the whole hive and  a well bred queen can keep the hive quite passive and easy to work with. The queen is introduced encased in candy so that the bees in the hive have to eat their way in to her. By the time they get to her they have become used to the smell and so they accept her (I wonder if I could get Shani to accept my smelly riding shorts if I coated them in candy?)   When we visit the hive Pete always brings a full size bee suit for himself and a little one so one of the kids in the street can get right amongst the action. Each time we visit I find I am fascinated by some new bee fact. The last time we opened the hive Pete took out some propolis (a waxy pinkish bee building material) which has a natural antiseptic. It cured a mouth ulcer I had in a day.   Having access to a hive has made us much more aware of bees in our own gardens and what blossoms attract them.  Last time we went to see the bees some of the kids took  flowers they had picked from their own gardens so the bees wouldn’t have to fly so far!   And now a final thought on working cooperatively and bees. Apparently when a new non aggressive queen is introduced to an aggressive hive the bee colony will become less warlike immediately, even before the queen gets a chance to breed her genes into the hive. It’s a phenomenon known as morphic resonance, sort of like social homeopathy.   And really  – if it can work for a beehive, why not in human communities?   Bring on world peace!

Guerilla Gardening – Beg For Forgiveness

Once upon a time I used to be a school principal. I first became a principal in an era of devolved responsibility to schools, and my favourite boss used to constantly say “You know what needs to be done – just do it. Beg me for forgiveness later, don’t waste your time with permission now”. Later I worked in our local education district office, as a manager of operations. I often would find myself saying “are you officially asking me permission to do that?, hoping people would get the message that while we couldn’t officially say yes it sounded like a great idea! It was a salient lesson in working with bureaucracy, who often want to say yes but just can’t. Once you get into growing food in your backyard, most people run out of space quite quickly, and you find yourself eyeing off neighbours’ yards, verges and nearby parks. A morning walk leads to new thoughts of “gee that gets good northern light – wonder how I could get water to it?”. It only takes a movie like “The Power of Community” about the Cuban peoples’ response to their own oil crisis in the form of urban agriculture; soon you find yourself googling “guerrilla gardening” and  . . . .   Our first attempt at guerrilla gardening found us using a space between our property and the walkway down to the beach. It was well screened with native scrub so we thought no one would notice. We used this area to plant fruit trees, a few vege beds and hide our five bay composting system. A fellow gardener (who actually knows what she is doing!) used to walk past with her dog every day – “looks a bit shady there, it will be interesting to see how you go”. Two years later she very generously is not saying “I told you so” as we replant the fruit trees onto a sunny verge and replace them with shade loving coastal indigenous plants for greater biodiversity and establish a street bee hive behind the coastal tea trees. Our second attempt was really an experiment to win an argument. With a spare section of water tank Shani planted up some winter veges on a very exposed part of the walkway and bucketed water to them on the odd day they needed it over winter. “You can’t plant there – people will steal the tank and take the veges” said Tim. Funnily enough nobody did, and in fact months later we discovered one lady stopped every day for a bit of weeding and to pick off the caterpillars! The highlight of our Street Fiesta in 2008 was harvesting that small garden and distributing the bounty.   So this year work on our Hulbert Street Living Smarties Garden began in earnest. In autumn people attending a Living Smarties course we were running provided the people power and motivation and we created four beds made from old tin –  creating two as no dig beds and bought organic vege mix from the great Green Life Soil Company for the other two. Two round beds for potatoes were added a while later and each time we run a Living Smart course we expand the number of beds. Now we have a total of 10 garden beds or about 25 square metres of garden . But what about water? – Anna’s place is the closest house to the garden. Anna is now 84 and while her husband was a keen gardener his death 16 years ago has meant there is not much action in her backyard recently. She has generously allowed us to hook up a watering system to her outside tap so that no more bucketing is needed, and we are looking forward to watering her husband’s grapevines this summer (yup they are still surviving after 16 years with no water!) Six months on we have just harvested the potatoes, and eat daily from the garden – peas, carrots, beetroot, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spring onion, leeks . . . all the usual winter garden fare. More than a hundred people walk past the garden with their dogs, bikes or kids on the way to the beach every day. If we are working there they always stop and say hello. Generally the response goes like this  – “Wow this is fantastic, so inspirational, good on you for doing this, I love checking this garden out every day . . . . ”  Last week a lady told me about the garden she had established at home inspired by our efforts – it made my day.  In fact when I am feeling a bit down I often head up to the garden for a potter and chat with whoever is going past. Sometimes people ask “is it your garden?” “Well sort of” I usually reply, “ but Jet and Banjo helped me plant those carrots, Ronan has been helping with the potato harvest, Jenny helps weed when she can, and Karin is keen to start her own bed up here soon . . .  you can join in if you like. I usually try and find some local kids to help out when I’m planting or doing fun stuff” People usually follow quickly with the same question Tim worried about – “but won’t people steal it?” “Well it hasn’t happened yet” I reply, “unless you count Ellie and Zoe whose mum lets them have a snow pea or two every day in exchange for finding snails, or my mum Joy who gets all her greens from here in exchange for worm wee, or the horse who ate half a cabbage before its rider could stop it . . . .. But see those herb beds – there is marjoram, oregano, thyme, basil and coriander – help yourself! Rebecca comes up from Hickory Street every day but she tells me they need to be picked more often” As they wander off some people pause before asking a final question

Growing Community – Hulbert Street Gets Ready For the Fiesta September 19 and 20th

Last weekend saw neighbour helping neighbour as residents of Hulbert Street spent the morning readying their verges for the annual Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta, before a shared lunch right out of the street Living Smart garden!   This year the Fiesta theme is “Growing Community” and there is a great deal of evidence of growing and community in the little culdesac street in South Fremantle. Recently dubbed “Fremantle’s Sustainability Street” by councillor Les Lauder, the street boasts productive vege gardens on the verge or front yard of over 50% of the homes in the street, and their own community allotment garden around the corner. Last Sunday two more households prepared vege gardens, while other residents weeded and shared  the big street mulch pile! “The Fiesta will be a ripper this year,” said co-coordinator Tim Darby. “There will be 2 open houses, seven open gardens and five open artist studios. Our street also boasts 20% of houses with photovoltaics, a growing number of rain water tanks and the majority of homes are growing some of their own food” “With a Living Smart speaker’s tent, buskers corner, cafe, family activities, and street stalls for community groups, local artists and businesses selling sustainable products, you should be able to spend the whole weekend here, and learn heaps about making your life more sustainable.” “And the whole thing is carbon neutral” added fellow coordinator Shani Graham, “thanks to great support from the City of Fremantle.”   This is one of three preparation days planned before the big event on September 19th and 20th 2009. “On August 22nd we will be joining with the Youth Tree network for an extended tour of two houses in our street – The Painted Fish and our home at #21, before a gardening day where four more raised beds will be made.” Participants will then be encouraged to join in over the weekend sharing what they have learnt with others! (you don’t have to be youth to come along!!) “And on Sunday September 13th we are hoping local families will join with us and community artist Nadia Rasheed in making two big street scarecrows for the Fiesta Scarecrow competition.” If you are interested in a having a stall at the Fiesta, want to busk or participate in any of the pre Fiesta events, or came last year and are willing to help out over the weekend contact Shani on  And put the date in your diary. With an estimated 2,000 people visiting, last year’s event was described as “more Freo than Freo” and this year is set to be even bigger and better!

Living Smarties Body Care Night August 2009

Although Bea , our expert home soap maker was not able to make it, sisters Steph and Maritza did a great job, and inspired many in attendance. A list of people interested in learning more about soap making has been taken, and it is hoped that Bea will run a “hands on” session soon at our local Meeting Place. Please email Shani if you want to join the group of people interested in this session. Steph and Maritza began their session sharing the different ways they dealt with their monthly periods – Steph showing us her “moon cup” and Maritza taking about her home made menstrual pads. She shared a pattern she obtained from There was strong interest in holding a “pad sewing day” so keep your eye out for that in the near future, and again let Shani know if you are keen. (Shani’s mum has already ordered her “plastic” lining –her first on line purchase!) Steph shared her recipe for leg wax and there were a few ladies (and the odd man!) keen to try this cheaper and more environmentally friendly option to salon visits. The recipe consisted of  1.5 cups of white sugar ,½ cup strained lemon juice and 1 tbsp glycerine . Heat sugar and lemon juice slowly and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Brush sugar crystals from the sides of the saucepan with water. Once sugar is dissolved, increase heat until the sugar syrup is at a gentle boil. Take off the heat when the syrup turns a caramel colour. Add glycerine and store in a jar. Can be heated in a microwave or in a pot of boiling water. Use with cloth strips. Steph also talked about how she makes her own moisturisers. She recommended a book she bought online called The Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty Hair and Skin Care and the online store New Directions for ingredients. Steph shared some great tips for those interested in making their own face creams , including being specific with the measurements, investing in a set of digital scales and a good thermometer, and emphasised that it is a more exact science than you might think. Everyone enjoyed the session and the excitement Steph and Maritza shared in what they were doing. Steph described it like cooking – she loved taking very simple ingredients and making something really nice from them. She shared the joy she derived from this process, and it was quite contagious! Steph forgot to share her toothpaste recipe but I have contacted her to find out what she does. A quick google search brings up lots of recipes! Next month our session will focus on Living Smart in the office – at home and work. Angela will share some of her tips for streamlining your waste in the office and members of the Gull Environmental Sustainability Team will share how they have been encouraging their whole workplace to live more simply. Please come along on Wednesday September 2nd and share any successes you have had in your work place or home office. Meet as usual at Beconsfield Primary School library at 7pm, bringing a snack to share and a mug for a cuppa.

Hulbert Street Verge Planting Day

Hulbert Street Verge Planting Day And shared lunch afterwards!  Sunday August 2nd 2009 In the morning we will dig and weed and plant and mulch and  . . .  . . then enjoy lunch together! Ken and Kate will be making some raised beds. Let Tim know if you want to join in (we have some spare tin!) A street soil and compost order will be made – see Shani if you want to order soil. There is still mulch at the end of the street. Please supply your own seedlings or plants. SUSTAINABILITY FIESTA NEWS Don’t forget the weekend of the year – September 19th and 20th If you want to get involved (stall? open garden or house? Volunteer?) please see Shani ASAP Youth Tree Training Day – Free tour of the Painted Fish and gardening workshop. See Shani if you want to join in with the Youth Tree Crew.   Saturday August 22nd Scarecrow Making Afternoon – Sunday September 13th 1-4pm We will be making two big street scarecrows with a community artist and/ bring stuff to make your own scarecrow! AND IN OTHER NEWS! The bees are in position with a queen to keep them happy and are ready to start doing their thing – check out Eli and Asher!  Sophie, Nic, Tully, Ellie and Zoe from # 20 have gone back to Walpole and Kio is back – Welcome home! See Shani if you have not filled in a street contact sheet!

Living Smarties “Excess Night”

For our July Freo Living Smarties and Friends Night we had what started as a “waste” night. We soon decided it need to be changed to an “excess” night. People brought along things they had at home that they wanted to give away or swap, we watched the fantastic Story of Stuff  (you can download it for free!) and we had two speakers. Alex H talked about the month that he and his mates went plastic free – what that meant, how they did it, and what things they could not avoid. He shared that the most interesting bit for him was the awareness raising of just how much we use plastic. I think a few people left thinking it might be a nice thing to try amongst friends or work colleagues. Alex M shared the different ways he has tried to reduce the waste in his household – from shredding newspaper to composting everthing, buying in bulk and making bread he was full of great tips and good humour. It was interesting to see how much paper a household collects.   We also had a bit of a “share what you have made with something that you thought was ‘waste’ Shani’s mum won the night with the hat and skirt she made out of the blanket she was given when she left home at age 12!   Next month’s topic is Body Care, and Bea has promised to share her tips for making soap at home, while Steph shares some of the ways she reduced her waste and uses less chemicals making her own toothpaste etc. For details or to go on the Freo Living Smarties Mailing List email Shani

Shani’s First Ever Cauliflower!

There is great excitement for dinner tonight! As I headed up to the guerilla garden vege patch for snow peas and bok choy for tea, I thought I would just have a check of what I thought was some rather large cabbage. Imagine my delight to find a fully grown and healthy cauliflower (you do need to check everything every day!) Even better our neighbour was busily installing two new vege beds on the verge – one from tin offcuts and one from and old papasan.    So it’s cauliflower cheese for tea tonight and seedling planting on the weekend!