Amongst other sheds on station, there is one that does not harbour tools or machinery to maintain station infrastructure. This ordinary looking shed provides for human sustenance (but it is not the brewery) and wellbeing (without being the gym). It is a good place to be warm, increase vitamin D levels as well as offering a quiet and sheltered refuge from the harsh sub-Antarctic elements.
'Chippy's Church' or Macquarie Island Hydroponic Hut is one of the oldest buildings on station. Closing the door on the sub-Antarctic and entering this sub-tropical oasis is a tardis-like experience - a world away from the outside extremes beyond its walls. For the most part learning how to garden is also otherworldly for the conventional gardener where things are incredibly familiar but equally foreign.
Most of us gardeners are used to being outside and getting our hands dirty in the soil as we weed, water and ward off pests that threaten our crops. In replacing water for soil, the hydroponics gardener has to attend to the plants basic needs of light, warmth, water quality and food. Attention to maintain nutrient balances, pH levels, water temperature and quality, humidity and pollination is a daily task. Furthermore on Macquarie to ensure the island biosecurity an awareness of prohibited plants such as Brassicas (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts) and some herbs like parsley is necessary.
Chippy's Church currently provides tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and herbs to the stations kitchen. Being involved in hydroponics on Macquarie is a good learning experience on vegetable gardening outside the temperate growing climate of home.