Meeting Costa at Millen Farm

Mike & Costa - 10 May 2017

Meeting Costa at Millen Farm

By: Michael Fox

I visited Millen Farm at Samford yesterday for their International Compost Awareness Week event.

It was a real pleasure to listen as Costa, from Gardening Australia, shared his passion for everything from plants to people. Costa talk helped me understand how this community project really can show how we can create a sustainable urban farming system. Costa painted an inspiring word picture of small under utilised private and public places in our cities being recreated as productive food sources. Costa also highlighted the contribution, Millen Farm’s focus on training young people, is making to our future food security: Learn, Grow, Feast.

Eric Love ICAW - 10 May 2017

Eric Love, CORE Chairman

Costa was at Millen Farm in his role as Ambassador for International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW).

“Down to earth” inspiration also came from Eric Love, Chairman of not-for-profit Centre for Organic Research & Education Inc. (CORE). Eric spoke passionately about keeping our food and garden waste out of land fill and using this underappreciated resource in creative new ways to not only grow food but also clean our urban storm water runoff before it enters our rivers and bays. What is really powerful is discovering that this environmentally focused not-for-profit has translated research into products with an international market: Stormwater Treatment And Reuse – STAR Water Solutions.

Costa on compost pile - 10 May 2017

Costa the Composter ICAW Ambassador

ICAW Ambassador “Costa the Composter” understands that earth is the foundation for productive communities, farms, gardens, even innovative businesses like STAR Water Solutions.

In his own style Costa showed us how to get in touch with the important things by jumping up on a trailer load of beautiful rich compost.


Samford Eco-Corridor

I also met Peter Storer a passionate driving force behind the Samford Eco-Corridor project is focused on improving the area around the river at Samford Parklands. A long-­term project that involves clearing the area of invasive weeds, replanting with indigenous species, and creating a natural corridor that enhances the ecosystem, protects the river and provides a natural area for the benefit of people as well as wildlife.

Peter explained how the project has expanded to focus on researching local flora and fauna then applying that research in working with land owners along the waterways to recreate the original plant species diversity for the area.

Bob the Bee Man - 10 May 2017 collage

Bob The Bee Man demonstrating honey extraction for Stinglees Bee hives

Following the theme of passion and innovation, Bob The Bee Man demonstrated his hive design for Stingless Native Bees Tetragonula sp. that allows for easy honey extraction. Patented separators allow for simpler access, a panel of spikes is used to open the honey cells ready for loading into the centrifuge for extraction with a cordless drill. A classic story of Aussie innovation. Bob is running a Collecting stingless bee honey workshop at Millen Farm on May 28.

Debbie Needham - Zinnias - 10 May 2017

Debbie – Woggoon 


I also learnt about edible flowers from Debbie of Woggoon Farm who grows and sells Zinnias and Nasturtiums with petals that can be used in everything from icecream to wedding cakes.




Common Spotted Ladybird - Harmonia conformis - Larvae - 10 May 2017

Larvae of Common Spotted Ladybird 

Debbie is passionate about growing and selling her flowers, however, I think she would grow them just to feed her native bees if necessary.

Debbie also showed me a larvae of a
Common Spotted Ladybird Harmonia conformisLadybirds are valuable pest controllers in your garden eating Aphids, Mealy Bugs and other garden terrorists.




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Pollinator Link Display – Paten Park Native Nursery

By: Michael Fox

Pollinator Link display - 7 Feb 2017

Pollinator Link Display

I know Backyard Bee Homes are valuable Shelter for our native bees, however, I was still amazed to a prospective tenant checking out the accommodation before I even finished up setting up the Pollinator Link Display.

Pollinator Link gardens provide Water, Food and Shelter for our urban wildlife. Creating wildlife corridors and bringing a little bit of bush into backyards, balcony gardens and school grounds.

The Pollinator Link displays are available for community nurseries, events like bushcare days and Green Heart Fair or talks for kindergartens and schools.

Email: to book display.

New tenant inspecting Bee Home - 7 Feb 2017

Prospective tenant for Bee Home

Different Bee Home designs support different solitary bee species.

  • Female Leaf Cutter and Resin bees Megachile sp. use hollows build a nest which they fill with pollen ready for when their eggs hatch in spring.
  • Blue Banded and Teddy Bear bees Amegilla sp. nest in the ground or earth banks.

Paul Ryan, Paten Park Nursery Manager tells me that a number of the holes were occupied within three hours.

Breakfast Enoggera CreekBee part of the solution.

Make a Bee Home to provide Shelter for the native bees visiting your garden.

Install a bird bath to provide Water and talk to Paul at Paten Park about plants that will provide Food for wildlife: Seed, Fruit, Nectar, Pollen plants for birds and a diversity of plants to support a range of butterflies.


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Are you ready to be a Pollinator Link Hero?

Pollinator Link Hero shirt

I want to be a Pollinator Link Hero

By: Michael Fox

To achieve our target of 30,000 Brisbane gardens by 2022 we are recruiting Pollinator Link® Heros to help.

Are you saying:

“I already have water, food and shelter in my garden for wildlife. So I don’t need to register as a Pollinator Link garden.”

You are already taking action. That is great … congratulations. However, we need your help to engage the wider community.

The core strategy is to build Pollinator Link® into a strong brand with high awareness that has marketing value for industry players like plant wholesalers, landscape architects and property developers.

Industry groups like Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) are already focused on the marketing value of proven sustainability with consumer focused projects like the EnviroDevelopment Consumer Guide.

EnviroDevelopment is a scientifically based assessment scheme that independently reviews development projects and awards certification to those that achieve outstanding performance across six sustainability elements – Ecosystem, Waste, Energy, Materials, Water and Community.” UDIA EnviroDeveloment Consumer Guide

EnvioDevelopmentThe Ecosystems element objectives align with the aims of the Pollinator Link® project: bringing a bit of bush to our backyards.

  • Extensive green spaces for conservation and recreation.
  • Landscaping in public areas that is tolerant to local conditions – meaning public areas and streetscapes that can look good year round.
  • Opportunities to observe native animals.
  • Locally native plants throughout your streets and parks.
  • Opportunities to interact with nature, providing benefits to your wellbeing.
  • Local waterways with good water quality that support a range of plant and animal species.
  • Reduced air, noise and light pollution.
  • Improved marketability of your home.

Building Pollinator Link® into a strong brand that has marketing value to property developers will increase our ability to influence provision of wildlife corridors, local plant species, water for wildlife and nest boxes in green spaces and parks.

How can you help?


You already have a water, food and shelter in your garden so the next step is to register your Pollinator Link® garden and display your fence sign.

Then become a Pollinator Link® Hero

Sign up another ten gardens and/or join the promotion team giving talks to schools, kindergartens or community groups. When you become a Hero you will receive your own quality polo shirt with our Blue-banded Bee mascot embroidered on the chest.

Email for more information. 

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Target 30,000 Brisbane Gardens

Leanne garden - 9 Aug 2016

Salvin Creek Pollinator Link

By: Michael Fox

Do you want to see more butterflies, birds and bees in parks and gardens around Brisbane?

Join others who are already bringing a bit of bush into their urban gardens; providing water, food and shelter for our native wildlife.


Blue-banded Bee Mascot

Our Pollinator Link mascot, the Blue-banded Bee Amegilla cingulatatypically flies up to 300 metres to forage for food. Australia has over 2,000 species of native bees pollinating everything from the iconic Queensland Nut Tree (Macadamia) to tomatoes in our vegetable patch.

The aim of the Pollinator Link project is to support important species like Blue-banded Bees with gardens providing water, food and shelter every 150 metres.

Jen and Mike Bartlet - 2 Jul 2016

Stable Swamp Creek Pollinator Link

30,000 Brisbane Pollinator Link gardens will create virtual wildlife corridors connecting all the small parcels of remnant bushland and bringing birds, butterflies and bees to add colour, sound and movement in our urban habitat.

If you already have a birdbath, or other water for wildlife, check the Certification guidelines and register your garden to help build awareness and support to reach the target 30,000 gardens.

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Students + Bunnings + Men’s Shed .. what a team!


Bare earth and planting team ready

By: Michael Fox

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” 
Henry Ford

This morning I experienced an inspiring example of our community working together to create a special experience and a special place for students at Mt Gravatt State High School(SHS). Looking at the team picture with all the red shirts, it is hard to tell students from the Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed and local Bunnings team members.


“Ok, who here has dug a hole?” Gaz

School yards are often hot dry concrete inhabited by Crows. With strong environmental leadership Mt Gravatt SHS is different, and now Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed members have constructed raised garden beds to create a living heart to the school yard. Teacher and environmental hero, Andrew Walsh told me that students were already very interested and looking forward to the garden being created.


Community working together

With the garden beds in place Community Liaison Officer, Irene Healy, engaged the support of three local Bunnings stores and Bunnings State Office. The Bunnings team arrived with plants, tools, hoses and ready for work. Power Garden Expert, Gaz did an outstanding job helping the students believe they could build a garden and it was a real pleasure to watch all the Bunnings team members working alongside students digging, planting, watering and mulching.

I was particularly impressed with the plants the Bunnings team selected.marigold-flowers-for-mosquito-control-31-jan-2016-lowres-collageThe planting will grow into a real kitchen garden with different types of lettuce, squash, fig tree and lots of citrus to feed both students and Orchard Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Marigold flowers will add a dash of colour and, importantly in Queensland, help keep mosquitoes away. Research is showing that volatiles in plants like marigold have high vapour toxicity for mosquitoes.(Debboun, M., Frances, S.P., Strickman, D.A. Insects Repellents Handbook, Second Edition(2015), CRC Press, London)

margaret-goulden-31-jan-2017-lowresJeff Goulden and his family were also at the event as the new garden is dedicated to the memory of another special community Margaret.










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Coffs Harbour Butterfly House – Get close to nature

By: Michael Fox


Up close with Varied Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina

Traveling in Northern NSW over Christmas?

Consider visiting Coffs Harbour Butterfly House.

I visited the Butterfly House on the way to Sydney in June. I also had the honour meeting the owners Ian & Ros  Bryant, an inspiring pair who share their love of butterflies with visitors young and old.



Red Lacewing Cethosia cydippe meeting a young butterfly fan

It is amazing to enter this space, alive with colour, wings flashing colour as the butterflies flit from flower to flower.

And seeing kids eyes light up as butterfly alights on their hand is something particularly special. Really getting close to nature.




Red Lacewing just hatched

Maintaining the butterfly population in this enclosed space means taking delivery of chrysalis and setting them up in special hatching spaces.




Cruiser Vindula arsinoe feeding on nectar




Specialised feeding stations with coloured disks allow observation of the butterfly’s proboscis (feeding straw) unrolled and dipped in the food.





I am planning to try coloured disks with the Puddling Place experiment. The objective is to have way to deliver Water at bushcare plantings and perhaps backyards. The engineering issues are solved with the five litre water supply lasting a month between refills. Now I am experimenting with ways to attract butterflies and bees.




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Building community and training the next generation

By: Laurie Deacon15129920_10154296974994825_1418271102_n1

Twelve community members and one dog – 34 hours of volunteer work. It is a real pleasure to be out getting my hands dirty building habitat and building community.

The team were busy setting up irrigation systems for the summer. Planting, weeding, mulching and log stabilisation for the banks is all preparation for our stormy summers: managing erosion and retaining water means the new plants will make the most of the growing season.

15058546_10154296974614825_889295254_n1Education of a two year old on how to plant and use tools safely, as well as, how to keep dog on lead when walking in the bush.

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