Living sustainably is an obvious goal of many people happy to call the beautiful Blue Mountains of New South Wales home. Go beyond the surface of any of the villages that stretch from Lapstone through to Hartley and you’ll find countless individuals and groups running services that make it easy to live more harmoniously with nature.
As well as food co-operatives and farmer’s markets held throughout the mountains each month, locals can tap into information on everything from beekeeping, food preserving and permaculture to DIY irrigation, cool-climate gardening and keeping chooks.
The following are just some of the region’s many eco initiatives worth exploring if you visit the beautiful Blue Mountains.
Flourishing since 2006, Slow Food Blue Mountains (SFBM) is led by an active committee committed to building networks between “grower and eater, agriculture and market, community and world”. Guided by Convivium Leader Anne Elliott, SFBM raises funds to implement and market its progressive grassroots projects, which include ‘A Kitchen Garden in Every Home’ – an initiative that sees SFBM working with Oasis Horticulture Winmalee to encourage Blue Mountains residents to grow some of their own food, and learn more about food miles, water efficiency, food security and climate change in the process.
This independent, not-for-profit organisation’s mission is to foster research, education and community engagement that supports the conservation of the Great Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Projects, forums and workshops are based around all areas of natural and cultural heritage, including biodiversity, geodiversity, water-catchment protection and integrity of the protected area. Volunteers are welcome.
Set up in 2011, BM Renew sees a group of passionate volunteers brainstorming on a regular basis to conjure up renewable-energy projects with a community focus. Free information evenings on installing solar power are held regularly and the group meets at the Mid Mountains Neighbourhood Centre in Lawson on the second Saturday of each month, from 11am till 1pm.
Small but perfectly formed, Crop & Swap is a new movement aimed at developing a “vibrant food trade between neighbours and locals in the lower Blue Mountains”. On the second Saturday of each month, anyone who grows their own fruit and veg, keeps chooks or makes bread, preserves, yoghurt, cheese, honey, healthy treats or craft items is invited to share and swap their goods at the Faulconbridge Community Hall from 10am.
Visit the Hartley Harvest website and you’ll find everything you need to start living more self-sufficiently. Owner Michael Mole (pictured right) delivers farm-fresh produce boxes, along with supplying worm-farm starter packs, a huge range of vegetable and herb seedlings, raised garden beds and chicken starter packs (two chooks, a feed pack and stylish accommodation). He’ll even look after your chooks for free while you’re away!
Photos supplied by David Hill, Blue Mountains, Lithgow & Oberon Tourism.