September 2011

For our September activity, Women on Farms West Gippsland, was enlightened by a most informative day at Chisholm Institute’s Cranbourne campus. Here, the very informative staff made all feel  welcome.

After an introductory presentation in the auditorium, there was a tour of the campus library, classrooms, nursery and plant propagation department, and landscaping area (focus of one of the most popular courses taught).

The glass house covering 1500sq metres intensively grows vegetables in a controlled environment.  Computerised, the facility operates 24/7, 365 days a year, using the latest technology to monitor carbon dioxide, temperature, pH levels, light, drainage and nutrients.  The Institute concentrates on growing tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum, which are sold to wholesale and farm gate markets.  The tomato crop is planted in July and grown through to June the next year. There is a capacity to produce 30 tonnes of tomatoes, with plants to 12 metres high!

Also of great interest was the newly constructed Centre for Sustainable Water Management.  The Department of Health requires all water treatment plant operators to be fully qualified, therefore the primary purpose of the Centre is to train students in water management. Not only does Chisholm provide such training on water treatment, recycling and efficient water usage, but also on laying pipes for drainage.  Another benefit of this operation is water for the irrigation of the Institute’s crops.

The day at Chisholm was completed with a tour around the little known campus wetlands.  This was planted out by students in 2003/2004 and consists of a sequence of 4 ponds through which waste  water filters to render  it re-usable.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women, you do not have to be a farmer to participate.  Our  Tuesday 4th October activity is a farm visit to ‘Seven Oaks’ historic property at Pakenham.  For more details contact our secretary, Jenny Stephenson on 9700 0282 or visit our web site at www.womenonfarms.org for the 2011 monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.