WORDS: Karin Holzknecht, PHOTO: Julianna Rozek
A bunch of keen beans met up on Sunday to see a movie called Good Things Await, and helped our club live up to the 'cultured' part of its name by participating in one of the most cultured festivals in Victoria, the Melbourne International Film Festival (or MIFF).
We gazed around at the geometric lighting of the Victorian Treasury Theatre while waiting for the film to start and also decided that the comfy lecture theatre chairs would be quite nice installed at Burnley. Then the lights dimmed, and with a big pink OINK our viewing experience began.
OINK is a short film following a New Zealand pig farmer as he walks around his farm. He moves pigs from one concrete steel-barred shed to another, visits the birthing suite, gathers piglets into a barrow and throws them into pens with piles of fresh straw and primes sows with bags of semen - all the while giving out his honest unassuming philosophy on his style of farming and how demand drives supply. White Balance Films, who made OINK, are apparently going to further explore the themes of this short film and another called I Kill, and produce a feature length film called We Kill trying to break down the barrier between packaged meat and the living animal (here's the source for my rumour mill).
It certainly made an interesting juxtaposition for the main feature film, Good Things Await. The film opens with beautiful bucolic scenery accompanied by the a cappella Danish crooning of a choir. A herd of cows, the last of the original Danish red cattle breed, are shown moving through long grass backlight by a mellow sun. And then one bellows, and you see the hooves of her about-to-be-born calf poking out from under her tail, and a very tense breach-birth sequence ensues involving a rope, one camera man and the bellows of an anguished cow. Apart from giving my knuckles a good whitening it certainly served as a character introduction to Niels, the elderly biodynamic farmer who runs the place.
The film ostensibly follows Niels' struggles to keep farming biodynamically despite rules and regulations attached to his 'organic' status and reduction of carbon emissions, and the slow demise of the buildings on the farm due to lack of funds - while managing to feel like a long slow walk through a year with the cows. Niels' philosophical musings about how everything is interconnected and how the flowers act like a parabolic dish and how everything passes through the spirit of a worm combine with the seasonal shots and some great close-ups on PLANTS to convey a real sense of ecology. You could be a little unsure about his reasoning sometimes, but there's no doubting Niels loves his cows and the feeling is mutual. There are lots of tender, funny moments courtesy of the interactions between farmer and farmed. And ultimately it's an uplifting film because despite all the struggles and people not getting it, Niels really believes that his way of farming belongs to the future, rather than the past.
Having canvassed the masses, my conclusion is: 4 out of 5 carrots (thanks Jenny!). But don't take my word for it, why not see it for yourselves? See trailer tease below.
Are you sad you missed out on this Horticultured outing? Keep an eye on our Facebook and sign up to the Google Calendar to keep up to date on events.
WORDS & PHOTOS: Julianna Rozek
A few dedicated members of Horticultured have been digging away at the community garden at Burnley. This event was a chance for our Community Gardens Officers (Brett and Bridey) to share their plans and the progress so far, and for interested folk to share their own hopes and dreams. There was also free pizza involved.
The forum started off with a brief intro into what the gardens looked like before (a hot weedy mess) and what they look like now (a slick empty canvas ready for planting). Bridey shared her plans for the gardens which she did as part of an assignment. It included a very thorough spring planting guide for the rotating crop raised beds, ideas for seating, shelter and a rhubarb/artichoke border.
Brett shared a potential idea to move the Red Container currently sitting between the nursery and SAB into the gardens and use it as a shed and additional planting area (green roof and walls). The container was previously part of a Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show exhibit, but is now unused.
Then the pizza arrived so it was pizza time, followed by breaking up into small groups and talking about ideas. There were colourful markers and big pieces of paper so it was just like being back at school. Finally, groups shared their hopes and dreams - giving Bridey and Brett some new things to mull over.
It was great to see 25-odd excited people show up. Most were new, and some were from Parkville (at Burnley for the very first time!). It was too wet and dreary to do any actual gardening, but a group went down to have a look. Spring planting starts soon, get excited and stay tuned for working bees!
WORDS: Julianna Rozek, PHOTOS: Julianna and Lambros
On a cold and clear day Horticultured ventured up to Macedon on our first official club outing. We car-pooled from Parkville and Burnley up to the Mount Macedon Trading Post for a cheerful lunch. Just next door is Dicksonia Rare Plants, and we couldn’t help ourselves. Apart from 2000 plants you’ve probably never even heard of, there were strange tools none of us could figure out (does anyone have any suggestions??).
The final destination was Tugurium, the legendary Stephen Ryan’s garden (best known for hosting Gardening Australia, but also being a generally awesome plant dude). The garden was accessible to the public as part of Open Gardens Australia, which has sadly shut down after 27 years. However an Open Gardens Victoria is starting up soon. Long live Open Gardens!
Despite being winter, cold and somewhat dreary, the gardens still had plenty of delight. The green roof provoked lots of comments - it was a DIY attempt on a pitched roof much different from the slick ones at Burnley. Despite some slumping and plant failures, the roof still looked green and is according to Stephen a favourite with design magazines.
We spent a while wandering about the gardens, trying to identify things. There were many noses poked into plants. Stephen gave a short talk describing his gardening philosophies and the development of Tugurium. Twenty-five years ago the garden was a bare, degraded grass-and-Eucalypt block with a hard yellow clay and no topsoil. Stephen imported organic matter and used a crowbar to dig out trenches and planted whatever caught his fancy at the time.
The trip was a great way to get away from the stress of exams (did we mention this was during swotvac?). Garden trips are also much more fun when shared with friends to ponder over plant names.
We are looking at organising more garden trips in the future, so keep an eye on the events page!
Read all about it: MUC Garden and Burnley Student Association share updates on their activities.