Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mt Murrindal Co-Operative

Mt Murrindal was the original birthplace of the Wwoof movement in Australia! This small, relaxed co-op north of Buchan, Victoria is home to three permanent residents (by chance all women) who live in three separate houses on the property.
Here I Wwoofed with Pam, a retired Melbournite and her three dogs! This community is very relaxed in its expectations of members; there is an assumed commitment to environmentally friendly living. Community connections stretch throughout the local area with people living non-communally and with nearby communities "Sunrise Farm" and the establishing Ashram Siba (formerly Ontos) a little way up the road.


As there are no structured co-op events (apart from an AGM) Mt Murrindal could be confused with a standard country share-lot. So, what is shared? The permiculture garden provides the women with much of their veggies. Time working in the garden isn't a scheduled expectation but an spontaneous pleasure. A communal tool shed is another resource that expands individual wealth whilst reducing their global impact.

These marigolds (which are used to as a natural bug repellent) are blessed by a high monk!

The black mesh on the ground is weed mat. This is a favorite amongst organic gardeners as a non-chemical way to defend against weeds. This doesn't stop renegade seeds arriving through compost or animal manure. The biggest weed in Mt Murrindal garden is Sorrel.
Here is Beth's pride and joy: The three stages compost. The chooks were big fans of the first stage.

In the Co-op building (a functioning house) everyone's mail is distributed along with eggs donated by the communal chooks.

During my visit two prospective members, a couple, Mark and Moira had just moved into the co-op building. Prospective members rent (living in the co-op house) for a minimum of one year. The proceeds of rent goes to the Co-op. After a year if the community and prospective members still get along they officially join!
This “getting to know you” recruitment technique is a popular and successful one. Communities can avoid problematic members and new members (who may be moving from cities and living communally for the first time) can see if the interconnection suits them. It can however, be slow: Recruiting is limited to how many free houses are up for rent. New members may also take a long time after their initial “getting to know you” period to build their house, again, slowing the influx. However, this is only a problem if the community wants new members fast!

It is an exciting time for Mt Murrindal! Mark and Moira come with knowledge and plans for sustainable infrastructure, they also have a baby in the makings!

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