Rooftop beekeeping, reclaimed food, cooperative housing, preserving sugar glider habitat and a primary school taking sustainability to new levels are among the winners announced last night at the biennial Banyule and Darebin Sustainability Awards.
The awards, held every second year since 2012, recognise the environmental and sustainable living achievements of residents, community groups, schools and businesses within the Banyule and Darebin Council areas.
Held at Preston City Hall, and hosted by Costa Georgiadis from ABC’s Gardening Australia, winners were announced in six categories: House and Garden; Community Group; Business; Education; Community Environmental Project; and Local Hero.
Banyule Mayor Cr Tom Melican said it was very important to support, empower and partner with residents, businesses and schools tackling local environmental issues with a range of innovative projects.
“All the nominations for these awards, and the winning initiatives, clearly demonstrate that people are increasingly thinking globally and acting locally,” he said.
“We are very fortunate to live in such supportive and engaged communities. Recognising and celebrating sustainable living and environmental success helps build the momentum, energy and collaboration required for individual residents, and our community as a whole, to improve environmental sustainability across a wide range of areas.”
“The award winners are only a few of the many people and organisations across Banyule that are part of a worldwide movement of people taking action to look after our natural environment and our human communities, with the two going hand in hand.”
HOUSE AND GARDEN
Murundaka (Giselle Wilkinson, Cate Grant)
Starting from an idea in 2006, Murundaka has grown into a community of 20 households showcasing best practice examples of sustainable living while reducing social isolation and alienation. Households consciously buy less stuff and work together to exchange, share, re-use and re-purpose items. The 20 households fill only five landfill bins each week and five recycle bins each fortnight.
Murundaka has also become a hub for social activity and learning, as well as a venue used by council and community groups. Recently Murundaka hosted a garden irrigation workshop and are currently hosting Mapping the Groundswell activities to document 100 sustainable living activities happening in Banyule.
Salt Foundation (Roger Donnelly, Catherine Donnelly)
Established in 2011, Salt Foundation sources local and reclaimed food to provide hundreds of meals a week to those in need and in the process reducing social isolation and food insecurity. During the meals, awareness is raised about reducing waste and sourcing sustainable food.
Most of the food used in the meals would otherwise end up in landfill and all leftovers and scraps are used for chicken food and composting. Salt Foundation thinks seasonally and locally, reducing the footprint of food by sourcing it from local gardens and growers.
Banyule Primary School (Courtney Deacon)
This primary school in Rosanna has worked hard to embed sustainability within its curriculum and throughout the school.
With the help of the school community, a greenhouse, water tanks, irrigation system and wicking beds have been built and installed. Children and parents are also involved in planting, nurturing and harvesting vegetables, even hosting markets to sell seedlings and vegetables.
Progress within the sustainability space is continually shared with others – at the Kids Teaching Kids conference, through their Sustainability Action Team meetings and in School Newsletters. The school recently won the Victorian Government’s 2016 Resource Smart School of the Year award.
Montmorency Sugar Glider Project (Jane Oldfield, Alan Cuthbertson, Alan Leenaerts)
This project involved building and installing nesting boxes for sugar gliders, as well as planting native vegetation to improve wildlife corridors. The major threat to these little possums is loss of habitat and predation by cats and foxes, so maintaining a robust interconnected habitat for them and other native animals gives them the best chance of survival.
Over a two year period, 45 boxes have been installed in parks and schools and 20 in private homes.
As well as providing improved habitat for sugar gliders, the group also gains a better understanding of the distribution of sugar gliders in the environment. It also raises awareness in schools and with residents and community groups on the need to develop and maintain a network of wildlife corridors.
Rooftop Honey (Vanessa Kwiatkowski, Mat Lumalasi)
Rooftop Honey is a Heidelberg based enterprise raising awareness of bees and the vital role they play in our ecosystems. Since 2010, Rooftop Honey has worked to re-home 80 bee hives to rooftops across Melbourne, caring for the hives using conventional and natural beekeeping methods. Importantly, the company regularly participates in community events and host workshops to educate others on the importance and value of bees, including for schools, councils and environmental community groups.
Robin Gale-Baker and Greta Gillies (dual winners)
In helping to build better connected communities, Robin and Greta have been involved in many initiatives developing many friendships and contacts as they work to improve sustainability locally.
Robin Gale-Baker co-founded Sustainable Macleod five years ago, leading its growth from three people to more than 300 families. She has developed partnerships with Macleod College and Macleod Village Traders, as well as relationships with other community groups supporting young people and people with disabilities. She founded the monthly Macleod Veggie Swap, has run dozens of workshops and talks on sustainability, written numerous successful grant applications, produced a monthly newsletter and regularly writes articles on sustainability issues.
Greta Gillies is a very active and inspiring community member, leading many environmental and social activities. She established the Banyule Bike Train to help promote cycling, especially for women, and also led the setup of Rough Trade 3081, a group providing an opportunity for people to trade, giveaway and receive items and services for free. Greta is also coordinator of Transition 3081, collaborating with a core group of active residents on activities, including the monthly Heidelberg Heights Community gathering, Grapevine Newsletter, and veggie swap, as well as numerous local events. She is also a founding member of the Speaking of Sustainability Club.