Volunteer Selection Project – Day 7, Environment Learning Centre Working Bee

Welcome to the God’s Way Volunteer Selection Project update.

In this post you will find information on the Environment Learning Centre road and swale maintenance  working bee.

This post contains:

  • Introduction to the working bee
  • Background information about the swales at the Environment Learning Centre
  • Photographs of the swale area at the Environment Learning Centre
    • Before and after images of swale site
    • Swale site aerial and ground images
    • Swale construction
    • Swales during a large rain event
    • Swales April 2018
  • What was involved in the Volunteer Selection Project road and swale maintenance working bee
  • Photos from the working bee day
  • Terraced rehabilitation site visit

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Thank you

Thank you to those of you who donate to God’s Way and those involved in the Volunteer Selection Project. We are grateful for your donations!

Thank you to the God’s Way volunteers and helpers who did preliminary work before the working bee and to those who took the photographs included in this post. The photographs are collected for documentation purposes so that God’s Way can create procedures and information to share with the world.

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Participants and Volunteers remove obstacles that may be dangerous projectiles or cause damage to whipper snippers

Introduction
During the volunteer Selection Project we involve participants in working bees on God’s Way Learning Centres.

This week God’s Way members, volunteers and participants in the selection project spent a day at the Cushnie Environment Learning Centre doing road maintenance and organising the swale site so that large amounts of waste matter can be easily dumped into the swales over the coming year.

The activity involved marking out, mowing and wood chipping the roadway where there will be high vehicle traffic until the project’s completion; Creating vehicle access to the swales; filling swales with matter from the surrounding area including piles of wood, windfall material and chop and drop matter* from the edges of the roadways.

Over the next years the swales will be filled with matter including waste matter from the local tip (*the waste is free, transport costs are covered by God’s Way). After the swales are full the roadways will be covered with a combination of hard and softwood in order to encourage re-growth and eventually the whole area will become a regeneration area that supports abundant flora and fauna.

*Chop and drop matter refers to flora that can be pruned (chopped) and used as mulch (dropped). Gods Way Learning Centres eventually want to have enough chop and  drop matter onsite that it meets all of the mulch requirement for the property. Currently waste products are used that are free or cheaply available in the community as a way to demonstrate how waste can be recycled and used to rehabilitate the environment. Ideally having all mulch and matter generated onsite would be great.

Jesus has great ideas about how to use waste and bi-products. He has done a lot of experimentation and now has methods that are working effectively with beneficial results. He has found that  what begins out as waste or waste byproducts and is given initially for free, people begin charging money for when they feel they can create a market for it. In regards to waste this becomes unsustainable to continue to purchase. God’s Way would like to see communities working together using all human waste to rehabilitate the environment.

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Participants and Volunteers cut matter into manageable pieces to be carried to swales

Background information

Approximately 5 years ago Jesus suggested to the previous owners of the Cushnie Environment Learning Centre to construct swales. A group of volunteers from the local community constructed six swales in a low lying area on the Environment Learning Centre. The area has a high amount of water that flows through it when there are heavy rains.

The swales were dug with the intention to be filled with matter and to hold and retain water on the land for as long as possible. The swales hold water on the land and act as “soaks” or “sponges” slowly leaching moisture and nutrients throughout the surrounding land. The swales are intended to hold large quantities of matter and water. Eventually if enough water is held on the land it could help maintain a consistent amount of ground water which would help the land remain hydrated.

Creating soaks and holding moisture on the land is an experiment God’s Way is conducting to demonstrate rehabilitation methods of re-hydrating damaged farmland.

Holding water on the land and encouraging ground water enables growth and abundance. Water is key to life and growth, without water nothing can grow.

Comparison photos of swale site, between 2011 2018

Photographs of the Environment Learning Centre swale site

  • Aerial photos before swales were constructed (2011)
  • Aerial photos of swale site in 2017
  • Photos of swale construction
  • Photos of swales during a large rain event
  • Photos of swales April 2018
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20110930 Environment Learning Centre damaged areas (where current swales are now). Before swales were created.

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20110930 Environment Learning Centre near main entrance. Before swales were created.

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20170307 Environment Learning Centre nursery and swale lines, aerial view. After swales were created.

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20170307 Environment Centre swale lines. Aerial view

Swale Construction

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Swale site when first constructed

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Swale site when first constructed

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Swale site when first constructed

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Swale site when first constructed

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Swale site when first constructed

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Swale site when first constructed

Swales during a large rain event

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Swales full of water (no organic matter in them at the time)

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Flooding in the swale area

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Swales full of water (no organic matter in the swales at the time which reduced their impact as soaks)

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Swales after water had dried up

Swales April 2018

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Swales April 2018. Swales are partially filled with matter including cardboard, hay, green waste, logs and other organic matter. This acts as a soak and leaches nutrients as the matter decomposes. The matter retains moisture which feeds the flora in the surrounding area.

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Swales April 2018. The trees that were planted approximately five years ago are flourishing due to being fed by the nutrients from decomposing matter and water that leaches slowly from the swales.

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Chopped and dropped matter, volunteers and participants have deposited in swales

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Swales April 2018

What was involved in the road and swale maintenance working bee

A lot of the work in the swale area has to be done by hand so as not to damage the regrowth and regeneration that has begun at the site.

God’s Way members, volunteers and participants partook in the following on Thursday:

  • Marking out and clearing debris from roadway
  • Picking up rocks, sticks, debris that may become flying projectiles or damage mowing equipment
  • Removing stumps and protruding sticks that may puncture vehicle tires
  • Whipper snipping and mowing roadway and swale access
  • Raking up the grass clippings to put into the swales
  • Chopping up pruned matter and putting it into the swales to decompose\
  • Flattening entrances to swales for easy vehicle access
  • Removing tree stumps
  • Spreading hard wood chip over roadway

Thank you to the members, volunteers, participants and helpers for all the work you did during the day!

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Swales April 2018

Photos from the working bee day

Marking out and clearing debris from roadway

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Roadway clearing and marking out pre mowing

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Removing branches from the roadway

Picking up rocks, sticks, debris that may become flying projectiles or damage mowing equipment

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Debris removing team ahead of mowing team

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Removing debris team

Removing stumps and protruding sticks that may puncture vehicle tires

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Digging out protruding stumps from the roadway

Whipper snipping and mowing roadway and swale access

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whipper snipping roadway

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Whipper snippering and spreading wood chip along roadway

Raking up the grass clippings to put into the swales

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Raking up grass left by mowing team

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Grass raking team

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Grass raking crew transporting matter to the swales

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Grass raking crew dump matter into the swales

Roadways cleared and mowed

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Roads after mowing and before woodchip

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Cleared and whipper snippered roadway

Chopping up pruned matter and putting it into the swales to decompose

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Sawing up branches that have been pruned from roadway to put into swales

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Volunteer and participants chopping matter into smaller pieces and carrying them to fill the swales

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Participants and Volunteers move matter from roadways to swales

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Volunteer move matter from roadways to swales

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Chopping branches into smaller pieces to put into the swales

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Tris and Elo consult about workflow

Spreading hard wood chip over roadway

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Tiny tipper delivering a load of mulch

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Jesus and Mary spreading hard wood chip on the roadway

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Jesus spreading wood chip

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Participants committed to spreading wood chip

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Lunch break

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Jesus and Mary heading up the new roadway

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Participants and volunteers lunch break

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Lunch break

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Flattening entrances to swales for easy vehicle access

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Cutting branches and leveling swale bank for easy vehicle access

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Leveling swale bank for easy vehicle access

Woodchip delivery & matter processing

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Delivering wood chip to swale entrance

Chainsawing, lopping and chopping trees, saplings and vegetation that was growing on the roadway

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Chainsawing fallen trees

Removing tree stumps

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Removing tree stumps with tiny tipper

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Removing tree stump with little tipper

Delivering and spreading more mulch

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Tiny Tipper spreading mulch on roadway

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Swale entrance complete

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Spreading wood chip

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Swale entrance complete

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Swales April 2018

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Gear for road maintenance packed up and ready for transportation


Terraced rehabilitation site visit

The participants in the Volunteer Selection Project visited the terraced rehabilitation site to see how it was progressing. Images below:

Before rehabilitation

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20110930 Environment Learning Centre cleared shed site (now terraced rehabilition site)

Site beginning to be excavated

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Environment Centre Terracing site

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Environment Centre terracing site part way through

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Site being terraced

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Environment Centre Terracing site, leveling terraces

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Terraced rehabilitation site holding water after rain

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Terraced site retaining water that leaches through the bank and down the hill to surrounding area

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12th April 2018, Participants of the Volunteer Selection Project and volunteers inspect terraced rehabilitation site

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Tiny tipper has many uses from woodchip carrier, stump remover to people carrier and more….

Until next time,

All the best from Eloisa and the Volunteer Selection Project Team

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