Supported by parish priest Father Vinh Tran, parishioners have come up with practical and imaginative solutions to some of the challenges outlined in the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’ – including establishing a worm farm.
To get the ball rolling, a small group of volunteers purchased purpose-built bins with good drainage and air holes from the local council. A small box of tiger worms was next on the list and then began the ongoing collection of recycled kitchen waste to feed them.
As volunteers Mark Leaney, Mary Izzo and Fran Hanna discovered, worms eat most things – bread, green vegetables, fruit, even human hair and hessian – but citrus of all kinds, garlic, onions and most herbs were on the banned list.
After six months of tending the farm, the first batch of worm tea was produced. A natural liquid fertiliser made from soaking worm castings (manure) in water, the worm tea was snapped up by parishioners who were keen to use it in their gardens. Money raised from sales will support projects for those in need.
“Worm tea promotes soil enrichment and results in renewed growth in gardens and most importantly, the landfill option is avoided,” explained Ms Izzo.
“Over time the work has become much more a routine maintenance task and some parishioners have been so inspired they have also now started their own worm farms.”
Other environmental projects undertaken in the parish include the annual Season of Creation celebrations each September to mark the arrival of spring. In keeping with a different theme each week, parishioners share produce and flowers during the month.
To raise awareness about recycling a ‘What Goes Where?’ quiz was held during a Sunday morning cuppa after Mass. Participants were asked to identify assorted items and choose the correct bin for them by following charts/posters. Rubbish containers have been organised in the church areas to be consistent with proper recycling and a Monster Sale of recycled items was very successful.
In addition, aluminium candle holders and other types of aluminium are being collected and sold locally, with funds raised donated to help the needy.
The local Lutheran community, which shares the Goolwa church, has joined this initiative.
To further promote ecological sustainability, visits have been organised to a farm run by two parishioners that uses sustainable practices. Parishioners have enjoyed seeing a demonstration of preparing biochar which is used on the farm for earth enrichment.
Inspired by Fr Vinh, who nurtured a row of vines planted to commemorate the centenary of St Joan of Arc Church in Victor Harbor in 2020, parishioners are also heavily involved in caring for the gardens on the church grounds.
The parish is reducing its operating costs through the use of solar panels that were installed on the presbytery roof five years ago following a donation from the Social Club.
Besides church initiatives, several parishioners are involved in community events and groups that care for the environment, such as the Clean-Up Australia campaign and Coastcare.
“Laudato Si’ has helped to energise our church members,”
Ms Hanna said. “We now understand more deeply the imperative to care for the planet together.”
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