Is there a green future for Bellingen?

A GROUP of community members in the Bellingen Shire are encouraging council, farmers and gardeners to end the use of pesticides and herbicides.

Led by Susan Weil, the group hopes to see Bellingen as one of the first towns to stop the use of chemicals and become an "organic town". 

To push this point, Ms Weil met with council where she proposed alternative weed removal techniques such as steam technology, and additional community working bees.

Steam technology is used in North America, Canada, New Zealand, Europe and some communities in Australia and has had positive results. 

Advantages of this technology include nil spray drift, and that it is safe for operators and the public during and after treatment, and it  does not require notification prior to usage.

A member of council told the Courier-Sun that council has a toolbox of holistic management options for implementing weed control that are all used at approved rates, and that groups such as Ms Weil’s are encouraged to apply for support from the Environmental Levy Fund. 

A grant from the Environmental Levy Fund might be used to trial the success and weed control outcomes of steam technology.

However, Ms Weil believes council, with its greater resources than her group, should be at the head of the queue to trial steam technology.

“We want council to have input and ownership of this proposal, not put it back onto the community,” she said. “If council is serious about this, $5000 is not enough to kick-start this project.” 

Ms Weil hopes that Bellingen will become an organic town to prove that it is possible to manage vegetation, insects and disease without the use of chemicals.

Susan Weil in her organic garden with baby Sassafras eating a home-grown snow pea.

Susan Weil in her organic garden with baby Sassafras eating a home-grown snow pea.