31 March 2023

From little things, in Queanbeyan, big things sure to grow

| Sally Hopman
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Group of people

The newly formed Queanbeyan Micro-Forest Group with co-founders Bec Gredley-Porteous and Mitch Porteous with daughter Hazel in front. Photo: Supplied.

The first steps towards establishing a micro-forest in the heart of Queanbeyan are now well underway.

The Queanbeyan Micro-Forest Group launched the crowdfunding campaign last week, after spending the past few months spreading the word into the community about the plan for a crowdfunded, people-powered, locally driven micro-forest for Queanbeyan.

The initial goal of $20,000 will help pay for project essentials like a master plan, earthworks and irrigation, joint project leader Mitch Porteous said.

Once that target is reached, the group will use additional funds to build an outdoor playscape for children and a forest classroom for outdoor learning.

“After seeing the successful micro-forests in the ACT, we thought Queanbeyan would be absolutely perfect for our own,” Mitch said.

READ ALSO Growing push for Queanbeyan’s own people-powered micro-forest

“We want everyone to be part of it and feel connected to the eco-forest,” he said.

Queanbeyan’s Blackall Park has been approved for the eco-forest, a perfect site where the Queanbeyan Micro-Forest Group can transform an under-utilised space into a mini ecosystem of trees, shrubs, climbers and ground covers.

Such urban micro-forests have been shown to reduce urban heat, provide safe habitat for native wildlife and create a shady place for community members to meet and relax.

Mitch estimates the micro-forest, when completed, will be home to more than 1500 climate resilient native plants.

“The micro-forest will be a green space that’s not only beautiful but useful,” he said.

Co-founder Bec Gredley Porteous said they were delighted with the way the Queanbeyan community had responded to the call for interest in the micro-forest.

READ ALSO Folk Festival back to what it does best as community embraces fully restored event

She said they had spent the past few months talking to people about the plans and encouraging input.

“There were also quite a few things we had to do before we could go any further, even though we knew the site was perfect for what we wanted. We had to do that Dial Before You Dig to make sure everything was OK underground because it is a pretty big site – about 20 metres by 30 metres.”

TV crew interviewing man in park

The news was already spreading about the Queanbeyan micro-forest last year when Costa Georgiadis from ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, visited Canberra – and ended up interviewing Mitch Porteous. The episode will air on 28 April. Photo: Supplied.

Bec said about 50 people had signed up to be part of the project already, offering different skills, with some simply keen to provide seeds while others wanted to help with planting. “It’s just all about how best people can utilise their skills,” she said.

Mud map of forest

The first draft plan, as created by the Climate Factory, for the Queanbeyan micro-forest, thanks to a great early community response. Photo: Supplied.

The local community is invited to contribute to the project at every stage, from its early days of planting to design and maintenance.

Before the crowdfunding campaign ends on Sunday 16 April, the group will host an Easter egg hunt on Saturday 8 April followed by a cake sale and barbecue on Saturday 15 April. Both events will be held at Blackall Park so visitors can tour the site and see where the micro-forest will grow.

For more information, visit the website.

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