Raising awareness of microbes within the broader community through the next generation of Peel Bright Minds

WORDS & IMAGES | EarthWhile Australia

David Attenborough says that “no one will protect what they don’t care about. No one will care about what they’ve never experienced”.

The vast majority of people have never set eyes on the hardworking bacteria, protozoa, fungi and nematodes that thrive in healthy soil. The concerns raised about degraded soils in the recent UN biodiversity and ecosystem services report shows we have a way to go to protect them.

The dirt under your feet is actually alive with micro-organisms that support life on earth. What we do affects their health and ability to provide for us as humans. EarthWhile Australia explains in easy to understand language the roles microbes have in soil, how we can harness them to enhance our wellbeing and how easy it is to care for them. The tiny bacteria, long strands of fungi, bumbling protozoa and wiggly nematodes work together to build soil structure, hold moisture, access and store nutrients for plants, and build pest and disease resistance in our gardens.

Raising awareness of microbes and giving people in the wider community the opportunity to experience them through their own eyes using powerful microscopes was a factor in EarthWhile Australia recently being awarded ESTEAM (Entrepreneurship Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) Champion of the Year by Peel Bright Minds. They were also named as finalists in the Science Communicator of the Year division. Georgina Marsh, Ellen Walker and Bonnie Dunlop are partners in EarthWhile Australia which was established early in 2018. They have trained with experts in the field including Dr Elaine Ingham and Dr Mary Cole.

Ellen Walker said: “We particularly enjoy onsite consultations with individual gardeners and farmers who get to view their own soil and discuss biological methods to organically grow plants.” Georgina Marsh, a trained teacher, takes the lead in school incursions designing activities that motivate and engage students while meeting the requirements of the curriculum. Bonnie Dunlop is keen to expand her interest in sustainability accounting.

EarthWhile Australia worked closely with Switch Your Thinking providing seven National Science Week Workshops across participating councils.

They have shared their knowledge about the role of organisms and the increasing complexity of plant life as it changes from seaside to old-growth forests to help gardeners understand how to strategically use microbes to grow desired plants, reduce costs and minimise harm to the environment.

EarthWhile Australia are based in Byford and work across the metro area, providing presentations, demonstrations, and workshops through school incursions, local groups and community events such as the Waroona Show, Pinjarra Fair and SJ Food and Farm Fest.

They have worked with the John Tonkin College, North Dandalup Primary School, Peel Bright Minds, Community Gardens, individual residents and farmers. Ellen Walker says they love seeing participants express joy at seeing microbes for the first time, chase a squiggly fast-moving nematode, wonder at the enormity of the worlds beneath their feet, and realise they, like EarthWhile Australia, can change things from the ground up.

MORE INFORMATION

EarthWhile Australia works with members of our community to raise awareness of how healthy soils, healthy food, and healthy people are all interrelated to contribute to a better world. For more information email info@earthwhileaustralia.com or visit www.earthwhileaustralia.com

This article was first published in the Peel Magazine, Spring/Summer – vol 5.2 – to read and download the full magazine, click here.