QUANG Minh Temple is a hive of activity as volunteers work hard to transform the Braybrook site into not just the largest Vietnamese Buddhist temple complex but also an educational centre on the environment and sustainable living.The 'green oasis', perched on a steep 4.5hectares at the point where the Maribyrnong River's fresh and salt waters meet, has little resemblance to the bare industrial site that the Buddhists bought in parcels beginning with a land title in 1989.
Since 2000, temple volunteers have planted thousands of native trees and shrubs, installed solar panels and three 45,000-litre water tanks, and created a commercial-scale worm farm to inhabit 4000litres of weekly green waste.
The temple also provides a free vegetarian lunch to 500-600 people every Sunday. But things won't stop there. The temple is investigating the feasibility of wind turbines, a vegetable and herb garden and small-scale wetlands to filter stormwater that flows into the river. Already a project is under way to install a dozen beehives on the site so the temple can create its own honey. Temple community development co-ordinator Tony Le Nguyen said it would spend $5000-$6000 to set up a suitable site for the beehives.
He said the main aim was to train and educate residents about bee-keeping, but the temple hoped to eventually sell its own brand of honey and wax products.
The project is the brainchild of Footscray resident Lyndon Fenlon, who started the Urban Honey Co five years ago. He said many studies showed that "city" bees were healthier and lived longer than "country" bees because they were not as exposed to pesticides and didn't have to fly far for nectar.
"It works as long as you have fresh water nearby and as long as they're within flying range of some good [flowering plants]. Quang Minh is ideal because it's on the river, a natural water source that's flowing."
The licensed bee-keeper said safety concerns were the priority, and he was confident the managed hives would not present a danger to anyone in the area, which already has natural hives.
Mr Nguyen said the temple had a vision of people visiting not just for spiritual purposes but to learn about their environment and how to live more sustainably - which would put Braybrook on the map. "When you're down here, you feel like you're back in the bush somewhere, not in [the City of] Maribyrnong," he said.
"To me, this is like a hidden treasure. When people think of Braybrook, they think of factories and commission housing, they don't think of the river. This is the other side to Braybrook."
Maribyrnong mayor Sel Sanli said he was impressed with the progress on his most recent visit. "I was very, very proud of what they've achieved as the mayor and councillor of that ward, but also as a local - to see the [works] taking place there and to see how we are living in harmony and supporting one another."
Last Updated on Thursday, 12 August 2010 20:46