After a long week of meetings, data collections and interviews with some pretty smart and committed people, it was time to soak up some Ballarat way of life. We as a team thought it was important to understand Ballarat, it’s landscape, it’s history, and cultural underpinning that makes it a great city that it is today. So as opposed to consuming data that we are gathering from our meetings and interactions, we decided to travel around, explore and talk to citizens, business owners and farmers and get their perception and point of view on, well… Rubbish handling!!
We started our weekend with the historic Sovereign hill – Ballarat’s historic outdoor museum, Sovereign Hill re-creates Ballarat’s early years after the discovery of gold in 1851. The gold rush era reminds me of the history of Alaska in the United States. Like any town with history around gold rush, Ballarat’s history is defined by thousands of international adventurers rushed to the Australian goldfields in search of fortune. Sovereign hill was an interesting visit; I did find some nuggets of data in the goldmine of information surrounding the history of Ballarat.
Next stop was visit to Ballarat Wildlife Park; this was visit to explore the other residents of Ballarat — the rich diaspora of wildlife who are very much a part waste management value chain. Here we got a chance to interact with Kangaroos (my favorite) koalas, wombats, and a variety of reptiles ranging from snakes to lizards and even a giant tortoise. It was interesting to witness the biology around these amazing creatures, many of which I had never seen before.
Last stop for the weekend research trip was to visit a sustainable farm and winery. The goal was to understand the landscape, farms, produce that contributes to the biomass of the region. We also wanted to meet the farmers and stewards of the lands to get their opinion on Waste and how they manage their rubbish. We drove to Captain Creeks organic farm. Captains Creek Organic Farm and winery is located on Kangaroo Hills Rd in Blampied, VIC (between Ballarat and Daylesford). We toured the farm; the family that owned the farm, the usual suspects of farm animals – Alpaca, Chickens, sheep and cows, welcomed us. It was a perfect day with warm sun, gentle breeze a Gorgeous view of Kangaroo hill in the background. We discussed the sustainable farming with Doug, who introduced us to his son Lachie – a 6th grader with an implied understanding of polyface farming. Polyface maintains a local and sustainable attitude towards their farm products – ranging from produce, fruits, eggs and Meats. Doug’s Captains creek farm and vineyard ecosystem on the sustaining principle of observing animals’ activities in nature and emulating those conditions as closely as possible. Doug and his family graze his sheep and cows in an established rotational grazing system. Animal manure fertilizes the pastures and enables Polyface Farm to graze many more cattle, compared to a conventional farm, thus also saving feed costs. Lachie – the 6th grader farm enthusiast managed the ‘ Chicken Trailer’ that was enclosed by electrified fencing that is easily and often moved. The idea was to allow Chicken to spread the manure while searching for grub larvae. While Lachie was explaining the mechanics and purpose of the mobile coop for free range laying hens on the farm, I realized there was very little waste, as this was a well-designed farm ecosystem that allows various farm occupants to express their physiological distinctiveness. The Farm also had a dining option with variety of locally grown organic food and wines. The Farm as an establishment also introduced ‘Vegie Boxes’ that includes sustainably grown seasonal produce to nearby residents in a subscription based delivery. I must say I did enjoy the conversation, learned a lot about the effort of a conscious farmer and his part to reduce waste. We also enjoyed the great food, Wine and cheese that did not come from very far.
Invitation for real time feedback – Smarter Cities Challenge Ballarat Public Forum.
I invite you to Drop by and talk about the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. Share your ideas and provide us with feedback for #Ballarat waste management with the world experts. No RSVP. 3:30 to 6:30pm, Wednesday 15 October, Town Hall. #SmarterCities http://ow.ly/C8LNo
Or Participate real time on a social Forum on Facebook.