by Sandra Tuszynska
As a biological scientist, I am always excited about new ways in which we can clean up, restore and support our soils and natural habitats. This is why I feel so passionate about the Planting Festival. It is a place of learning in a fun and engaging way through workshops, presentations and comical debates. The Planting Workshops are my idea of education. The experts that come to share their own passions, provide practical solutions to make our lives and those of the creatures, which support us, more symbiotic and sustainable.
I have been fortunate this year to have been a part of the environmental workshops organising team. We have invited experts who provide a jigsaw piece of the puzzle, collaborating in conserving and increasing biodiversity in our habitats. If you are a continuous learner, interested in science that is ever evolving with new applications in the real world like I am, here are some workshops that I am extremely excited about:
- Let’s Make Biochar, the soil amendment that your soil and the atmosphere will love. This charcoal-like structure provides exceptional habitat for beneficial soil microbes, which are essential for healthy plant growth. Creating biochar helps to fertilise soils and sequester carbon for potentially thousands of years, dramatically helping to reduce carbon, methane and nitrous oxide emissions. If this idea tickles your fancy, join Dr. Paul Taylor, the author of The Biochar Revolution, who will show you how it’s done.
- Create a Frog Pond and Wildlife Habitat. Water is one of the most important resources for wildlife, especially for breeding frogs. Sean Morrow has the passion and the experience, to teach us about how to create a permanent water supply in our own backyards. If you would like to hear, observe and interact with frogs and other wildlife in your own habitat, this workshop is for you.
- Attract birds, bees, and butterflies to your garden. Michael Fox, the founder of Pollinator-Link, is passionate about inviting wildlife to our urban habitats. If you love nature, Michael will help you to bring it closer to home, no matter how tiny your habitat might be.
- Survey insect diversity with an entomologist Christopher Carr. If you are like me and just love the small creatures, that are so essential to our survival, then the Insect Biodiversity workshops are for you. We will learn how to find, capture, count and perhaps identify some of these fascinating creatures that sustain Woodfordia. With thousands still to be identified, you might be in luck.
If you wish to participate in any of these workshops, don’t forget that you need to book into them here, as spots are limited and filling up fast. And if you are Smart Enough to Know Better, you will want to join Greg Wah and Dan Beeston, of the podcast devoted to exploring science, comedy and ignorance, on Saturday evening at the Bunya. Feel free to participate and challenge some of the biggest scientific questions or discoveries of our time.
Finally, if you are interested in the wonders of healthy soil biology and the microbes that support and sustain all other terrestrial life forms, then join me at The Grove, at 9.15AM on Sunday. I’ll be presenting some of the most fascinating discoveries about fungi, the Soil Superheroes. Fungi are crucial to our survival, they devour disease causing microbes, oil spills, toxins, pesticides, heavy metals and even plastic. There is a never ending potential in using fungi in environmental remediation, medicine, design and architecture. I would love to hear your ideas about how we can use these fungal superheroes to help restore our planet into health.