The ABC star giving Tom Gleeson a run for his money

Costa Georgiadis pictured in a community garden on Gardening Australia
Gardening Australia's Costa Georgiadis is up for the 2019 Gold Logie, but the odds favour his fellow ABC nominee, Tom Gleeson. Photo: ABC

Voting has opened for this year’s Gold Logie award and Hard Quiz’s Tom Gleeson is the runaway favourite to win – but the real contender from the ABC should actually be the host of Gardening Australia, Costa Georgiadis.

Costa has been giving his loyal audience a reason to stay in on a Friday night for the past eight years, and their lives are materially better off for it. Can you say the same for Tom Gleeson? I think not.

Costa is a community man at heart, and he should be given an award just for that. Much of his week is spent volunteering at his local school or travelling around the country attending amateur beekeeping symposiums, getting down and dirty in community gardens, or bringing ‘hen therapy’ to the elderly.

But the Gold Logie doesn’t factor in any of that, so let’s get onto his work on Gardening Australia. If you aren’t familiar with the show (come on, it’s only been running for three decades) it inspires Aussies to appreciate the wonders in our own backyards – and this is where Costa’s magic really shines through.

Viewers are shown the incredible beauty of the world around us and how perfectly each part of the ecosystem fits together, whether that be the birds and the bees, or the billions of microbes teeming in our soils.

The latter, for example, is invisible to the naked eye but essential to life as we know it, as Costa shows us through his passion for compost and the microbial boost it injects into our world.

Gardener’s gold

“Composting, to someone who hasn’t done it before sounds like, ‘Why should I bother?’ and, ‘What’s my little contribution going to impact?’,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“But the opportunity in composting is to open up a whole new world of understanding of where you fit into the environment.

“When you turn your kitchen scraps into compost, which feeds the soil, then your day to day actions are actually making the world a better place.

Costa Georgiadis from the ABC's Gardening Australia
Composting is so much more than separating your food scraps, it's changes your whole relationship with the natural world. Photo: ABC

“You’re providing fertility to grow plants, to create flowers to feed insects, and looking after our pollinators and our birds.

“You’re also building a better soil which holds more water which keeps the thermostat of your local environment in a more user friendly range, it keeps trees growing which makes for solar passive air conditioning, and creates shade and places for people to sit and take in the beauty of nature.”

The simple action of dividing your kitchen scraps from your general waste to create compost completely changes your relationship with nature. It quite literally turns our culture of consumption and of taking from the natural world, on its head – and suddenly, you start to give back.

That’s not to mention the tax payer dollars you save from not “having to truck that waste away and dig a very expensive hole to put it in, which will become a shocking legacy for our kids.”

But Costa, and Gardening Australia, never explicitly ram these kinds of messages down viewers’ throats. Rather, their enthusiasm for nature and the way they lead by example encourages us to love the world around us, and as a consequence, want to protect it.

Revered not feared

Another good example is a segment Costa recently filmed profiling the black soldier fly in all its gory detail. It featured plenty of closeups of the insect and its squirming larvae, but the idea was to have audiences mentally put down that can of Mortein, and truly appreciate how much our lives depend on the valuable work insects do.

Black soldier fly pictured on Gardening Australia
The black soldier fly isn't the prettiest thing to look at, but it holds an important role in our ecosystem. Photo: ABC

“Insects are the fuel, they’re the blood in the veins, they’re the operating machinery that feeds and fuels the whole system,” Costa tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“Smaller insects are eaten by bigger insects which are eaten by birds. In their job they’re doing pollination which enables trees to reproduce and grow, which continues to provide oxygen and continues to hold the landscape steady, and interacts with the clouds and create a microclimate of life.

“Insects also pollinate the flowers of our food crops, so anyone that eats food is a gardener by default, because the garden plants provide you with the sustenance that keeps you alive.

As he sums it up, “There’s nothing to fear about insects, and the more you connect with plants and you realise how important they are to the life of plants, then suddenly you’ll put down the fear and pick up the awe.”

Now will you think twice about purchasing pesticides or switching on an outdoor mosquito zapper?

Costa’s enthusiasm for the natural world and all its intricate workings is contagious, as anyone fortunate enough to watch him on TV knows. It inspires us to think about our own place in the environment, and the tiny things we can do to give back to the world that gives us so much.

Costa is quite literally changing the world every Friday night – that’s his contribution to TV. When was the last time anyone said that about Tom Gleeson?

Tom Gleeson pictured on Hard Quiz
Sure, Tom Gleeson is funny, but is he out there saving the planet every day? Photo: ABC

You can vote for Costa here. #growforgold

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