Sus­tain­abil­ity work­shops show how to grow your own food

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Marissa Ge­or­gopou­los

MORE peo­ple are go­ing green and turn­ing to sus­tain­able ways of liv­ing – and the first step is do-it-your­self classes.

Sus­tain­able liv­ing work­shops are held reg­u­larly in Pen­rith and Black­town.

St Clair res­i­dent Nevin Sweeney, 60, is well-versed in sus­tain­abil­ity and hosts sev­eral of these across western Syd­ney, in­clud­ing the Grow Our Own Food, Grow Our Own Fu­ture series.

Mr Sweeney, the Per­ma­cul­ture Syd­ney West pres­i­dent, has spent close to 40 years transforming his prop­erty into a pro­duc­tive, year-round crop sup­ply.

Mr Sweeney and wife Linda spend less than $50 a week on gro­ceries as they grow all the herbs they con­sume, 80 per cent of veg­eta­bles and 50 per cent of fruit.

“To start small and then build up is re­ally, re­ally im­por­tant,” Mr Sweeney said. “A 1m x 1m patch is ideal.”

“Re­search is great and you can do so much on the in­ter­net these days, but it all comes down to be­ing pre­pared to give it a go.”

The cou­ple’s yards show a quirky and in­trigu­ing mix of pro­duce and green meth­ods.

Out front is a worm­ing tower among plants, in­clud­ing the tree which pro­duces tea tree leaves. They are steamed to make tea-tree oil.

The back­yard is filled with veg­etable patches, a ba­nana cir­cle, a con­structed wet­land and “chook trac­tor sys­tem”.

“We have a grain mill and I’ve got or­ganic wheat so I grind it to make bread,” Mr Sweeney said.

A food warmer is one way they cook meals while an­other is with the so­lar oven Mr Sweeney made. “You can save money. It is all about knowl­edge, un­der­stand­ing how things work and set­ting things up right,” he said.

The Sweeneys open their home to the pub­lic on Sus­tain­able House Day and Per­ma­cul­ture Day.

You can save money. It is all about knowl­edge, un­der­stand­ing how things work and set­ting things up right.

Nevin Sweeney uses a mix of sus­tain­able meth­ods to be largely self-suf­fi­cient in food and power. Pic­tures: Carmela Roche

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