Farm Closure Update

Posted on August 19th, 2014

The markets, nursery and café are all open, and we urge people to support us through their patronage of these businesses.

Soil investigation results

A number of soil samples were recently taken by council for testing from various sites around the farm. The main findings of this soil testing at the Farm were:-

- A number of areas of the site are contaminated by asbestos

- Some areas of the site have higher than recommended levels of lead present in the soil. No contamination was detected in the areas used by the Farm’s playgroups and children’s art activities.

- The ashes in the healing circle fire site had significant contamination (most likely from treated timber) and this area will be remediated by the Council.

 What are the risks?

Recent media articles have not been completely accurate and it is important to correct some misinformation that may have been generated. Some key points that should be noted are:-

- Queensland Health has assessed that “the level of exposure is quite low”.

- Soil samples were taken from ground soil, rather than our garden beds, which have been built up with compost produced largely from off-site materials over the years.

- There is no indication that the Farm’s produce has been contaminated.

- The main risk from asbestos is from breathing fibers that have been exposed when asbestos is broken down. Air test samples were also carried out and no detectable air borne asbestos was identified.

- Lead can be taken up by plants, but it binds to organic matter in soil and so higher levels of organic compost will limit the amount taken up by plants.

- The greater risk is from lead contaminated dust being present on the outer surface of plants. This risk can be minimized by ensuring mulching or coverage of any dusty soil areas and by washing and peeling vegetables.

- As a follow up from the Council results we have arranged for testing of our garden bed soil as well as produce samples from different areas of the farm. We will let people know the results of this when complete.

- Produce at the Sunday markets come from local farms throughout South East Queensland and Northern NSW, and not from Northey Street gardens or allotments. While Northey Street has had a small stall at the markets in the past, no farm produce has been harvested or sold since the investigations began in June

What is being done to manage the contamination?

The Farm has prepared a management plan to prevent contact by people and food plants with the contaminants. It includes:-

- all gardens to be in raised beds lined by semi-permeable cloth and filled with clean soil all walkways and bare soil to be covered with grass, paving, deco, mulch, etc.

- no access to the soil by chickens – alternative deep litter bedding systems will be required

- all farm produce to be washed before eating and young children to be supervised to ensure they don’t eat dirt or unwashed vegetables.

When will the fences come down?

Council will take the fences down when the Farm’s management plan is approved, hopefully within the next week.


We’re Hiring

Posted on August 6th, 2014

We’re searching for a talented person to join the team as the Hospitality and Green Cleaning Project Co-ordinator.

Use your hospitality background in a community context to provide training and leadership for Work for the Dole participants in the beautiful gardens of Northey Street City Farm. northeycookteam


The Organisation

Established in 1994, Northey Street City Farm (NSCF) is a non-profit community organisation for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn the principles of Permaculture through hands-on experience.

Join an enthusiastic, passionate group of people to work on one of Australia’s largest city farms; a certified Organic Permaculture site on 4 acres, established kitchen and market gardens as well as orchards and wood-lot, plus Brisbane’s only Organic Sunday Farmers Markets.

We aim to create a working model of a cooperative, community based, urban Permaculture farm which demonstrates, promotes, educates, celebrates and advocates for environmental and economic sustainability in a healthy, diverse and supportive community.

NSCF is also a community hub that facilitates the development of social connections and new skills for volunteers and participants in a variety of Programs. Use your skills and experience to help us enhance our farming operations.

We currently have an opportunity for an enterprising individual with excellent training skills and hospitality experience to join our team on a part-time contract basis. Part of our Work for the Dole Program, this is a new 6-month project with the possibility of extension.

About The Role & Our Team

The Hospitality and Green Cleaning Project will run on Wednesdays and Fridays, your role will be to co-ordinate and supervise Work for the Dole participants to carry out a variety of food and drink preparation and sustainable cleaning activities on these days. Additional hours are provided for administration and planning association for the project.

We are a dynamic, creative and diverse city farm based on mutuality, innovation and environmental sustainability. We currently have two other Work for the Dole programs running alongside our diverse volunteer program. We aim to embrace the three ethics of Permaculture: Care for the Earth, Care for People and Share the Surplus. One of the ways we do this is to provide lunch for all on site – staff, volunteers and project participants – three days a week which are mostly sourced from our gardens.


  • Work with the Site Manager to develop work plans and activities for food and drink preparation and sustainable cleaning.
  • Supervise and develop working relationships with participants in the Work for the Dole program to ensure adherence to WH&S standards and active participation in work activities.
  • Provide on-the-job training to the participants in food and drink preparation and sustainable cleaning.
  • Work with the Site Manager to manage sign-in registers, participant work diaries and reporting requirements of the Work for the Dole provider.
  • Ensure set up and shut down of the kitchen, including maintaining and servicing utensils and equipment and ensuring that the kitchen is left clean and tidy.
  • Actively participate in Site Team meetings and contribute to Team Reps meetings as required.
  • Report fortnightly to the Site Manager about progress against work plans.


Selection Criteria


  1. Demonstrated industry experience in food and drink preparation and sustainable cleaning.
  2. Excellent interpersonal, communication and training skills.
  3. Project supervision experience, preferably including projects involving unemployed people.
  4. Current ‘Blue Card’ certifying suitability for working with children and young people.


  1. Relevant trade qualifications as a cook, chef, pastry chef, baker or café manager.
  2. Certificate 4 in Training and Assessment
  3. Experience of, and commitment to, working or volunteering in community organisations.

Please refer to attached position description here for further information. Hospitality Cleaning Co-ordinator PD2014

How to apply for this job:

If you believe you fit the above requirements and are looking for a position that combines your training and hospitality experience with the desire to work in a socially just environment, then please apply by emailing your application to, using the subject line: Hospitality & Green Clean Project Co-ordinator application, including the following:

  • a Cover Letter addressing each of the selection criteria (maximum 150 words each)
  • Resume outlining your experience and at least 2 referees
  • Proposed start date is early September
  • For further information, please contact Scott Warren, Site Manager on
  • Hard copies may be sent to: Northey Street City Farm, 16 Victoria St, Windsor, 4030

Applications are due 5pm Tuesday 19th August 2014

August eNews

Posted on August 1st, 2014

Welcome to the August 2014 News from Northey Street City Farm

The wait goes on for re-opening the site, but we continue as many of our activities as possible. If you are a customer at our Farmers Markets, please fill in our survey by following the link in the article below. All respondents go in the draw for a basket of eco-cleaning products, and you can give us your ideas for improving the markets.

Important Dates
3 August – Plastic Free July Wrap-up Brunch  -  11am at the Chai Cafe
8 August – Permaculture Design Course starts

Upcoming Workshops
30 August – Seasonal Vegetable Gardening with Bunya
30 August – Establishing & Maintaining Vegetable Gardens with Bunya
5 September – Trees In Permaculture (PDC series open to public) with Dick Copeman



– by Dick Copeman, Farming Team Manager
Fence Decoration
On Friday 18th July, a team of artists decorated the exclusion fencing, and a great photo of some of the artists was in last week’s City North News, along with a good report about the closure.
fences artwork

The Wait Goes On
On Friday 25th July, five weeks after the site was first shut down, we received a letter from Council saying that the analysis of the samples from our site is taking longer than expected and that they will “be in touch with us in the next few weeks to provide further clarity”. We tried to obtain more details as to why there is a delay but were given no more information.

We were previously informed verbally on 19th June when the fencing went up that the closure would be for ‘up to a month’. Then we were informed by letter on 26th June that the investigation process would take ‘approximately one month’. Now, five weeks after our site was closed, we are told that we will be closed for at least another few weeks.

We have written to the Lord Mayor, Cr Graham Quirk, outlining the impacts of the closure and asking him to personally intervene to speed up the investigation process and to ensure that we are provided with a full briefing about the possible soil contamination at the farm.
council visit
Petition Presented to Local Councillor
Last Friday also, Ronnie Wright, Chair of the Management Committee, Donna Smit, the Allotments Coordinator (pictured below) and I presented a petition signed by almost 1,100 people to Cr Vicki Howard, asking the Council to ensure that Northey Street City Farm continues operating on its current site. We told her that we were unhappy with the lack of consultation and information coming from Council and left her in no doubt about the harmful impact of the closure and of our determination to get back on site as soon as possible. Cr Howard promised to find out the reason for the delay in providing us with the results of the soil testing.

4BC Interview with Councillor Matthew Bourke, Chair of the Environment Committee, BCC
I was interviewed on 4BC radio recently about the farm closure and Cr Bourke was also interviewed. The 4BC interviewer asked him whether Council had any other plans for the city farm site but he did not give a direct answer, but just said that Council was taking its duty of care for users of our site very seriously. An email has been sent to the Councillor asking him to clarify his non-answer.

Impacts of the closure
Vegetables are rotting, unharvested, in our gardens, we are not able to sell our farm produce at our weekly farmers’ market and our allotment holders cannot access their plots. Our certification as an organic farm is at risk. We have had to put most of our volunteer and intern programs on hold, cancel visits by school and university groups, cancel many of our workshops and re-locate our educational courses offsite, suspend our community service program and re-locate our thrice weekly playgroups.

Financially, our income has diminished and our costs have risen. We pride ourselves on being largely independent of government funding for our running costs, but the longer the closure continues, the greater the threat to our financial viability.

Environmental and Legal Advice
We are talking with several environmental and legal consultants about possible outcomes of the site investigation, but until we have some idea of the results, we cannot make any definite decisions.

The Good News!
Our Markets, Chai Cafe and Nursery are open and continuing to trade. Some courses and workshops are continuing. The gardens and allotments are being watered and the chickens, worms and bees are being cared for.

We are taking the opportunity to rebuild much of the nursery and to oil the furniture and the deck in the kitchen area. A number of our long-term volunteers are continuing to come and help keep things running normally as much as possible.

The Work-for-the-Dole programs are continuing and we have just been funded for an extra program focussing on hospitality, coffee making and green cleaning. The Plant, Grow Cook supported gardening program is continuing in a modified form.

How You Can Support the Farm through this Difficult Time

  • Buy your organic food at our Sunday markets & have breakfast or a coffee at the Chai Cafe

  • Purchase all your garden needs at our nursery.

  • Enrol in one of our courses or workshops that are still running (see the website)

  • Email or phone the Lord Mayor to tell him to open our gardens and orchards asap

  • Donate on-line at

NEWS FROM THE FARM Management Committee
To find out more about NSCF governance and what the Management Committee does, have a look at our page on the website: Management Committee


Last week we launched a new survey to understand what’s important to our customers at the Sunday Organic Farmers’ Market – what customers value about the markets now, and how they think the market might be improved in the future. We’re also trying to find out how far people travel to visit our market, how often people come, and what the average spend is. We hope this will provide rich information which will help us to maintain and develop our market as an innovative, attractive and world class organic market which supports local food systems.beans on toast

If you are a customer at our Sunday market we would love to hear from you. The survey will be open for 6 weeks, and every person who fills out the survey will go into the draw to win a great basket of eco-home products. The survey can be filled out online by following this link:

ORGANIC FARMERS’ MARKETS  Sundays 6am to 10.30am
Here comes August and with it the Ekka, the Ekka flu and the Ekka chill. Beat both with a healthy sun-warmed morning at Northey Street Markets.

Beef-up that immune system with locally grown fresh produce. While beans and sorrel are just starting their season, make the most of the carrots, celery, ginger, kale and onions. They’ll be on their way out in the next month or two. Our strawberry growers are keeping up with demand but it helps to get in early. Try the butternut lettuce at the Saddleback Mountain stall for a fresh leafy crunch to your sandwiches.

With new parking areas open we are happy that finding a space shouldn’t be a problem.

With the support from stall holders we are reducing the use of single-use plastics at the markets. The Northey Street Info stall sells a range of recycled and multi-use bags to satisfy most shopping needs. Please help us reduce the plastics out there and BYO plates, cups and cutlery may also be welcome but check with the stall holder first.

Through our site closure we have really appreciated the loyalty of our customers. We’re honoured to work for customers who have a genuine concern for the Farm, turn up every Sunday and spread the word that Northey Street Markets are business as usual. Thank you.

Plastic Free July: PFJ Wrap Up & Onya Produce Bags for Sale
Congratulations to anyone who reduced their plastic use through the month of July! This Sunday 3rd August we are holding a Plastic Free July wrap-up brunch at 11am to share our dilemmas and successes. All welcome. Bring a plastic free dish to share if you can, and RSVP to Emma at wiseeartheducation(at) We’ll be meeting near the Chai Café – look for the red sarong.

Plastic Free July may be over, but we encourage you to continue saying no to disposable plastic. One way to do this is to purchase a set of Onya produce bags. They are really easy to carry with you to the markets and are great for fruit and veg, or for bulk goods like nuts and pulses. Five produce bags come in a small stuff sack for $14 and can be purchased at the NSCF information stall and the nursery.

Our trading hours are: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 9-3, and Sunday 6am – Noon. (Closed Monday and Wednesday)

 New arrivals:

Dwarf Citrus: Navelina orange, Tahitian lime, Emperor mandarin, Eureka, Myer, and Lisbon lemons.
Olive – Frantoio
Monstera deliciosa
Raspberry – Chilcotin
Lemonade fruit
Kaffier Lime
Cardomom (limited supply)
Miracle Fruit
Black mulberry
Vanilla bean orchid

60L Rocky Point Premium potting mix – $20.50 each
50L Rocky Point Active8 – $20.50 each

David Holmgren and Nicole Foss visit.
On the 4th of July Northey Street City Farm welcomed guest speakers David Holmgren and Nicole Foss to Brisbane as part of their national speaking tour. Their talk “Survive and Thrive – Strategies for a changing economy and a sustainable future” was held at QUT Gardens Point Campus, and was attended by approximately 200 people. The evening involved two thought provoking presentations by David and Nicole, followed by a lively question and answer session.

Systems thinker Nicole Foss explained the links between the converging pressures facing us – economic contraction, environmental crisis and geopolitical stress – and how this will impact on our everyday lives. Following on from this, co-founder of permaculture David Holmgren spoke about how communities can not only survive but thrive by rebooting dormant household and community non-monetary economies.

If you missed the Brisbane visit and are interested in finding out more about the speakers and their topics visit:


Sustainable Living Workshops
We’ve got a bumper crop of workshops planned up to the end of the year, get in early to secure your place!

30th August – Seasonal Vegetable Gardening with Bunya
30th August – Establishing & Maintaining a Vegetable Garden with Bunya
5th September – Trees In Permaculture (PDC series open to public) with Dick Copeman
12th September – Understanding & improving your Soil (PDC series) with Adrian Holbeck
13th September – Natural Dyeing with Plants with Linda Parmenter
13th September – Pith Cane Baskets with Weva Deva
26th September – Water in Permaculture (PDC series) with Tim Davies
27th September – Seasonal Vegetable Gardening with Bunya
27th September – Establishing & Maintaining a Vegetable Garden with Bunya
25th October – Eco Baskets – using recycled materials with Weva Deva
15th November – Coil Stitched Baskets with Weva Deva
13th December – Native Bees Full Day Practical with Bee Expert Tim Heard
20th December – Palm Sheath (Hamper Baskets) with Weva Deva

Permaculture Design Course
Our next Permaculture class is on Fridays, starting 8th of August. It’s filling up fast let us know if you’re interested soon! PDC design-sml

Completing a PDC at Northey Street offers the advantage of working on a design location of your choice and we have a diverse teaching team giving you access to a wide knowledge base.

Intensive Permaculture Design Course  –  Rural Focus
Monday 22nd September – Monday 6th October. Qld School Holidays.
Our next PDC has a rural focus with a four-day residential at Eco-retreat Paradise One in Northern NSW. This is a unique offering for only 16 students (and we already have a few booked in). You’ll have the opportunity to visit several rural sites and come away with many more ideas on how to implement Permaculture in your life.

Early bird discounts available until the 22nd of August.

Earth Arts and Playgroups are continuing at the Markets on Sundays and on Tuesdays and Fridays at a playground near the Farm.

For more details as well as booking information, please see our website
Education enquiries: education(at)
Education bookings: info(at)

Fenced Out but Fighting On

Posted on July 11th, 2014

Fenced Out but Fighting On:

Help us DECORATE the FENCE along Northey Streetfences

 FRIDAY 18th JULY   9:30am to 11:00am

 Preparation workshops

Wed 16th 9.30am at the Farm

Sundays at the Market


Despite being partially shut down by Brisbane City Council to investigate possible soil contamination, we are rallying artists and volunteers to decorate the exclusion fencing around the City Farm.

 The artworks and fence decorations will be assembled on the fence along Northey Street on Friday 18th July from 9.30 to 11 am.

 Playgroup children and their parents, participants in the ‘Plant, Grow Cook’ supported gardening program, Work for the Dole participants and volunteers are all contributing to the decorations and art works, which are being co-ordinated by Northey Street’s renowned Earth Artists.

 The decorations aim to soften the harshness of the metal fencing, to celebrate the spirit of Northey Street and break down the sense of exclusion that we are all feeling at the moment.

 We want to let Brisbane know that we are still here, that our markets and nursery are still operating, and that our community is supporting us. Our gardens, allotments and orchards are being watered and we aim to be back and running as soon as possible.

Northey Street City Farm is cooperating with the council in the investigation and management of the possible contamination. The decorations will be removed when the fence is removed and the Farm’s gardens and orchards re-open.

You can donate to help support keep Northey Street going –

Show Your Support for Northey Street City Farm

Posted on July 4th, 2014

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT for Northey Street City Farm

Help us DECORATE the FENCE along Northey Street

 FRIDAY 18th JULY   9.30 – 11am

 Preparation workshops

Wed 9.30, Tues & Fri 2pm at the Farm

Sundays at the Market


You can also donate to help support keep Northey Street going –


  • The Northey Street Organic Markets are open each Sunday from 6 to 10.30 am as usual. The Chai cafe is operating in the market, not in the farm kitchen, but the farm’s own produce stall is not operating

  • Edible Landscapes Nursery is open as usual from 9 to 3 on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from 6am to noon on Sundays

  • The gardens and orchards are not able to be maintained or harvested but we are able to water them. The chickens, bees and worm farms are being fed and cared for.

  • The farm’s volunteer and work-for-the-dole programs are operatingon a restricted basis but the intern and community service programs are suspended

  • Allotment holders cannot access their plots, but the plots are being watered.

  • The ‘Plant, Grow, Cook’ supported gardening program is continuing.

  • Some workshops have been relocated. School and other group visits are suspended till term 4.

  • The Earth Arts program and kid’s activities are continuing at the Sunday market and at a nearby playground on Tuesdays and Fridays

Workshops continuing

Posted on July 1st, 2014

Our Sustainable Living Workshops are going ahead!

Some of the practical hands-in-the-garden workshops will be at another location, however our education space (under the office on stilts) is open and accessible to the public.

Please book in as usual and you will be emailed if an alternative venue is organised for the workshop.

Our workshops are detailed


Posted on June 24th, 2014

Most of Northey Street City Farm’s site has been closed to public access by Brisbane City Council until late July

 Council contractors are conducting soil tests to investigate possible contamination from demolition waste on site. Northey Street City Farm is cooperating with the council in the investigation and management of the demolition waste.

 Farm staff are able to access the office, kitchen and toolshed and to feed the chickens, but the gardens, orchards and bush areas are not accessible.

However, the good news is that:

The Northey Street Organic Markets will continue each Sunday

Edible Landscapes Nursery will re-open for business from Saturday 28th June


The following activities have been suspended until further notice: -

  • The Play groups, Earth Arts and children’s activities on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays

  • Access for the Allotment holders to their gardens

  • The Plant Grow Cook supported gardening program on Wednesday morning

  • Community Service supervised work program

Work for the Dole and volunteer programs will continue on a restricted basis.

We apologise for the inconvenience that this will cause. We aim to be back to running as normal as soon as possible.



Posted on June 20th, 2014

Notice to Our Friends & Supporters

Much of Northey Street City Farm’s site has been closed off by Brisbane City Council for up to one month in order to investigate possible contamination from demolition waste on site.

Without prior notice, council officers arrived on site on early Friday 20th June and put up temporary fencing around the site. All public access to the site is restricted, with only staff allowed access to key facilities.

Northey Street City Farm as an organisation is still operating and we are cooperating with the council in the investigation and management of the demolition waste, which council has said will be done with as little disturbance to the site as possible.

Despite this sudden closure, we are determined to keep operating normally, to the fullest extent possible

A few important announcements:

  • The Northey Street Organic Markets on Sundays will continue to be held each Sunday, without the Farm’s produce stall.

  • Edible Landscapes Nursery will have a plant stall in the Sunday Market but the Nursery itself will be closed until further notice

  • The Farm’s volunteer, intern, work-for-the-dole and community service will continue on a restricted basis

  • The Chickens will be fed and cared for in their current locations

  • Allotment holders cannot access their plots and the ‘Plant, Grow, Cook’ supported gardening program is suspended. 


PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR Northey Street City Farm by contacting the Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk

Tell him that you value and support the work that Northey Street City Farm does and urge him to ensure that the Farm is able to get back up and running as soon as possible.

The Lord Mayor’s contacts are:

Email –

Please cc to:

Phone: 3403 4400  or Fax: 3403 9930


Some background information:

The site of Northey Street City Farm was previously occupied by small businesses and houses until the big flood of 1974, after which the site was cleared of buildings and grassed. Council leased the site to NSCF in 1994 for the purpose of running a city farm, which we have been doing successfully ever since.

 In the early years of the farm, the soil was tested and no contamination with hazardous materials or chemical residues was found. More recently, the staff and allotment holders at Northey Street City Farm have been aware of small amounts of demolition waste on the site, including some small fragments of fibro (asbestos cement) sheeting.

 In consultation with Queensland Health, an Asbestos Management Plan was drawn up in 2012 and it has guided our practice since then. When fragments of asbestos cement are found, they are removed, bagged and disposed of in accordance with our plan.

 Our site coordinator is trained and experienced in the management of bonded asbestos and is educating our staff and volunteers to ensure that it is managed appropriately, in accordance with our management plan and health and safety regulations.

Ill effects from asbestos occur only when its fibres are breathed in. Research has shown that there are no breathable fibres in soil that is contaminated by asbestos cement sheeting*.

 Northey Street City Farm is treating this issue very seriously. We do not want to cause any risk to our members, volunteers and supporters nor to members of the public. We will work with council and it consultants to investigate the contamination, and we are also seeking our own independent scientific advice on how to best manage this problem.

We are also concerned that the risks from this contamination are not exaggerated or blown out of proportion. We are confident that the contamination will be able to be successfully managed so that the farm can resume normal operations as soon as possible.


 We apologise for the inconvenience that this will cause. We aim to be back to running as normal as soon as possible.

For queries, contact Dick Copeman, Farming Team Manager on 3857 8775


*Laboratory analysis of thousands of soil samples from AC (asbestos cement) contaminated sites, often in the vicinity of AC itself, shows the absence of respirable asbestos fibres”. Tillman, Cherilyn (2007) In association with Aust Institute of Occupational Hygienist,”Principles of Occupational Health and Safety”; pp158-159; Asbestos in soils”., quoted in Removal of bonded asbestos containing material debris from soil or fill. QUT Standard Operating Procedure



David Holmgren & Nicole Foss in Brisbane

Posted on June 4th, 2014

Join us on the 4th of July for a talk from the co-founder of Permaculture – David Holmgren, and system thinker & international finance expert, Nicole Foss.jpg_small_survive_and_thrive

 Strategies for a changing economy and sustainable future.

How communities can survive and thrive.

Two of the world’s leading authorities on sustainability, both passionate and provoking speakers, explore the opportunity for communities to take control and create an alternative future to the one that is currently emerging.

System thinker Nicole Foss will explain the links between the converging pressures facing us – economic contraction, environmental crisis and geopolitical stress – and how this will impact on our everyday lives.

Drawing on 30 years of permaculture teaching, designing and demonstrating rural and urban agricultural food production, David Holmgren will focus on how communities can not only survive but thrive by getting out of debt, downsizing and rebooting our dormant household and community non-monetary economies.

Friday 4th July

QUT, Gardens Point Campus

D Block, Room 101

6pm Doors open – information tables to browse and refreshments available

6:30pm Program begins
Tickets $20, Concessions & Students $15

To purchase more than one ticket edit the quantity on your order summary (left column) after you click the buy now button.

Waged- $20

Concession- $15