4 November 2022

Growing push for Queanbeyan's own crowdfunded and people-powered micro-forest

| Sally Hopman
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Couple in a forest

Bec Gredley-Porteous and her partner Mitch Porteous with baby Hazel at the Watson micro-forest in Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

Bec Gredley-Porteous and her partner Mitch Porteous had been thinking of setting up a micro-forest in Queanbeyan. They’d seen how creating a public plot of land, planting it out densely with a mix of natives, was not only a great asset for the environment but also for the community – bringing people and nature together in the most natural of causes.

They knew that such micro-forests had already been set up in Downer and Watson in Canberra in partnership with the Climate Factory as well as Moruya down on the South Coast – and even went along as “extras” when Costa Georgiadis from ABC TV’s Gardening Australia was in Canberra recently to film a segment on the Climate Factory’s work in the nation’s capital.

“Mitch was talking about our idea for a micro-forest in Queanbeyan,” said Bec, who lives in Jerrabomberra with Mitch and their new baby Hazel, “and the next thing we knew, Costa was talking about it on camera.

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“Turns out when you tell Costa something, you can’t take it back. He is so enthusiastic about everything, it’s contagious. So the more we thought about it, the more interested we became.

“It just all happened a little sooner than we planned,” Bec, a journalist who is currently on maternity leave, laughed.

Since Costa helped cement the decision for them, plans are now beginning to take shape for a micro-forest in Jerrabomberra. They’re keen to spread the word about the micro-forest, encouraging interested people that for it to be a success, it needs its local community behind it.

First item on the agenda is community consultation. Encouraging people with different skills to get involved, says Bec.

“Water, horticulture experts, anyone with skills that will help with this project,” she said.

“It will take some time to set it all up, but once it’s established we can do monthly working bees for weeding or whatever work needs getting done.”

Man interviewed by TV crew

Costa Georgiadis from ABC TV’s Gardening Australia interviews Mitch Porteous about the planned eco-forest project for Queanbeyan. Photo: Supplied.

The planting plan is for a mixture of natives and others that are good for the climate, the hardier the better. For the eco-forest to work, at least 1000 trees must be planted, closely together – dense enough to create its own eco-system.

The first step is to find the right piece of land on which to build the forest. The perfect site would be about 20 metres by 30 metres in a cool and shady area, somewhere that could become a central meeting place for locals and visitors, where children could play – where the true spirit of community could grow.

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“At the Watson forest, they do great things like organise these Sunday sessions with live music, food vans, fun for the kids,” Bec said.

“It’s a wonderful way to bring the community together as well as being great for the environment.”

Bec said they were working with the Queanbeyan-Palerang Council to find the best block of land for the eco-forest.

The plan is for the micro-forest to be “crowdfunded and people-powered” – run by locals for locals.

People interested in becoming involved in the project should go to the website.

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