Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Get a Big Buzz from Your Garden

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Get a Big Buzz from Your Garden

Article excerpt

THERE is in many people's minds a link between food security and sustainable, resilient and fair food systems that build greater levels of self-sufficiency among growing numbers of people. In other words, raising our individual and collective capacities to meet at least some of our own food needs, and so reducing our levels of dependence on external market actors and systems.

A few weeks ago I profiled Steve McGrane, newly appointed co-ordinator of the 5000sq m Coffs Harbour Community Garden in Combine St. His vision is of a growing network of thriving, diverse and self-sustaining food gardens across Coffs Harbour's suburbs, and he's putting this vision into practice with his own garden in Korora.

Steve doesn't do it all alone. He's working closely with his neighbours and a small army of tiny helpers in the form native bees.

The bees' main job is to pollinate the many species in Steve's expanding fruit and nut orchard. The bees only have a range of about 500m and athe further they have to fly, the greater the amount of energy they use, so the more food you can provide locally, the bettera.

Because of their small size, relative to the European honey bee, native bees have a high commercial value in pollinating fruit and vegetables with small flowers, such as tomatoes and blueberries. And they're much more efficient and productive workers than European bee, which Steve says pollinate about 30% of plants, compared to a pollination rate of around 70-80% for the native bee.

While the native bee has not, so far as Steve is aware, suffered the colony collapse disorder that is decimating many populations of European bees, it is under threat from its larger cousin.

aEuropean bees are very messy in the way they obtain the pollen a they buzz and they just destroy the flower. When the native bee comes along, it's very delicate, and there's no pollen left for it, so they're actually killing the food sources of the native bees,a Steve said. …

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