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Sharing Growing Abundance

Well its been almost a year but with a lot of anticipation and excitement I finally get to share with you the latest chapter of this crazy project. Sharing Abundance was created out of the inspiration from the Abundance groups in the UK and Growing Abundance, Castlemaine. The interest since beginning this project has been wonderful and at times overwhelming. And so, with this in mind, I am embarking on the next phase of this project to enable community groups and organisations across Australia (and well anywhere!) start their own version of this. So, together with Growing Abundance Castlemaine, we will be compiling some recipe guides to help you do just that.

This project is a dream come true because I get to ‘work’ with some amazing inspired folk – I say ‘work’ because really its like play time for me. I get to sit around, drink tea, and listen to the story that is Growing Abundance. I guess the work will come when its time to write this all up ….

Anywho. We are hoping to release the first of these recipe guides in Spring 2013. The recipes will all be downloadable for free under the creative commons license agreement and so will use this moment to revamp the website, so stay tuned!

Williamstown Lemons

 

The Sharing Abundance project has launched in the inner west of Melbourne to a great start. Talitha, the project coordinator in Footscray, headed over to Williamstown last week to harvest 35kgs of lemons! Most of which were donated to a local food bank. Amazing!

Also check out the red satchel she made for harvesting. In her words it ‘was an improvised front pack made from sewing upwards the bottom of an apron, was good for gathering at the top of a ladder then crouching to tip into the box as it saved on bending, climbing up and down, etc.’

Resourceful, reducing waste and sharing amongst the community – the inner west is heading for great things!

To get involved to help Talitha out on her next harvest register your interest here.

Growing Continues..

The Sharing Abundance continues to grow with the project being established in 3 new suburbs/towns over the past month. Its really exciting to see the project take shape, and I’m particularly looking forward to growing interstate towards the end of the year.

If you live in the following suburbs, Sharing Abundance is currently being established so register as a volunteer and get involved:
– Brunswick South, VIC
– Coburg North, VIC
– Fitzroy, VIC
– Fitzroy North, VIC
– Footscray, VIC
– Hartwell, VIC
– Hawthorn East, VIC
– Kilsyth, VIC
– Lalor, VIC
– Richmond, VIC
– Riddells Creek, VIC
– St Kilda, VIC

Don’t loose heart if the project isn’t being established in your suburb yet, all it means is that you have an opportunity to set it up yourself – so please get in touch. The next round of kits will be sent out in early October.

I’m off for a few weeks of maternity leave, so apologies for taking a moment longer to respond to emails – but I will get there once things settle down with my new brood. In the meantime, happy harvesting!

August Kits

The printer is busy doing what it does best .. printing Sharing Abundance kits! If you have been thinking about registering your interest in establishing this project in your ‘hood then now is your big chance – the kits will be ready to be posted out next week. Previously the focus has been on Victoria but if you are further afield then please get in touch – the project is ripe to be shared.

So check out here what’s involved in establishing the project in your suburb and register your interest here if you’re a keen bean.

The next send out will be in October as I’m taking a moment to breath, move house and welcome baby no. 2 into the world. No pressure!

Generation Food

Over the past 12months there has been so much noise around local food system developments. Being close to the source (having founded Sharing Abundance, Reclaim the Curb, Urban Food Maps, a new subject at RMIT ‘Unless: Practicing Sustainability’ with the most stellar public student project yet and begun a PhD to discuss all of this craziness) its always challenging to know whether the noise is just you banging away at your key board or something much more.

Today, Raj Patel has launched the beginning of his new project Generation Food. This is the first project with such acclaimed support to stand out there and say – this movement is marginal is essential, those people that aren’t hearing all of this noise need to remove the rock they are under and join the revolution.

Growing, Growing, Grown

Sharing Abundance is taking Melbourne by storm. Behind the scenes we have been busy getting many pioneer harvesters organised to go out into their suburban streets armed to pick fruit, make friends and ignite an alternative small scale food system. We have been so busy in fact I thought I would share with you so far all of the locations of harvesting projects started so far.

With citrus season upon us its a great time to spot, seek, harvest, share and enjoy fresh local food in your own neighbourhood. Should you wish to be involved register your interest here – perhaps you could start your own harvesting project in your own hood!

Beyond the Concrete Jungle

Thankyou to everyone who came along last night to the Food for Thought talks held at VicSuper. There was a lively conversation afterwards around public trees, picking fruit that doesn’t quite belong to you and reclaiming the curb – so I thought I would share with you this article recently written in The Age this week.

Article from The Age by Megan Backhouse

One Hawthorn resident has rigged up a plastic greenhouse in his backyard to propagate manna gums that he surreptitiously plants in nearby open (read, too open) public land. Over in Brunswick, locals are digging up slabs of footpath and planting olives.

In Caulfield, someone’s cultivating the strip alongside the rail tracks, while another gardener in the city is making public planters out of discarded televisions and toasters.

Just as English gardening writer Tim Richardson established this year’s Chelsea Fringe as a way of highlighting that gardening in Britain is no longer a backyard pursuit alone, gardeners in Melbourne are increasingly turning the soil outside their fenceline.

While such activity largely stems from locals taking it upon themselves to lay claim to neglected, underutilised land, councils are increasingly getting in on the act.

Last year, the City of Yarra adopted guidelines for ”urban agriculture activities” – steps to be considered (location, liaison with neighbours, plant selection) by those wanting to grow food in public places with the council’s support.

Similarly, the City of Melbourne recently drew up a ”draft street gardens policy” for community-operated gardens on nature strips, footpaths, median strips and the like. Last month it produced the booklet, Sustainable Gardening in the City of Melbourne, which includes a section on planting in laneways ”for those that have limited space”.

And then – moving into actual gardens now – the council has just unveiled a community garden at Docklands, an area not known for its verdant spaces.

This highly designed expanse of raised beds, running water, seating and a barbecue – a joint initiative between the City of Melbourne and Places Victoria – shows just what can be achieved, no matter the cranes and high-rises, in this still-developing locale.

But while the garden came ready-planted with citrus trees and herbs, there are still plenty of spare (mulched) beds, suggesting it is yet to be embraced by the flat-dwellers surrounding it.

City of Melbourne urban landscapes manager Ian Shears says he is confident the gardeners will come and that the important thing – with this and other initiatives – is to encourage wider community involvement.

”People are rethinking what makes a city liveable,” Shears says. ”There is an increased understanding of the benefits (environmental, social, health and economic) of greening and, as we become increasingly urbanised, more people are wanting to interact with nature. This has happened over a relatively short period of time – 10 years ago we wouldn’t have even been having this conversation.”

Thirty years ago in New York, though, one Adam Purple was bucking the system by transforming five vacant city-owned lots into an elaborate arrangement of fruit trees and flowers. He had concentric rings of garden beds that – with his constant attention – managed to be both elegant and vigorous. In 1986, the entire creation was bulldozed and replaced with apartment buildings.

The ambition (not to mention lingering notoriety) of his garden still serves to highlight what has long been achieved when residents engage with the idea of ”greening” (council-approved or not).

Residents such as Sam Steenholdt (aka La Pok), who has taken it upon himself to plant such unlikely spots as a graffiti-covered wall in Little Latrobe Street (he installed a discarded printer brimming with succulents) and the corner of Degraves Street and Flinders Lane (he suspended a toaster popping cacti).

Steenholdt says he doesn’t consider himself a guerilla gardener so much as a ”street artist who uses vegetation as his medium”. Like Shears, he says he wants to inspire others to ”actively green our city”. His aim is to highlight the strange places that plants are able to grow and gardens exist.

It seems to be working, with such experimental forays now occurring in our private gardens as well. Paul Hyland, who runs the Glasshaus nursery in Richmond, says people are increasingly planting in spots not previously considered for growing – on high-rise balconies, for instance, or in garden beds that bolt to walls.

But as British academic George McKay tells it, everyday gardening life has never just been ”patio, barbecue, white picket fence, topiary, herbaceous border”. In his Radical Gardening, published last year, McKay argues that gardens have always embodied some of ”society’s most pressing problems and solutions”.

Politics, social activism, and the counterculture generally, he says, have all fed into gardening.

”Though a slow culture, the garden is not fixed, and can change remarkably,” he writes. ”I am not thinking season-by-season … I am thinking about its ideology.”

Food for Thought

This Tuesday 19th June I will be telling the story of Sharing Abundance at VicSuper’s Food for Thought seminar. It should be a lovely evening as I have the pleasure of sharing the evening with the legendary folk from Permablitz. So if you feel like hearing from two organisations that are promoting sharing for the common good, please register your attendance here.

Details: Tuesday 19th June from 6pm til 8pm with light refreshments.

Hope to see you there

Potato Movement in Greece


Athens, Greece -
When an economy shrinks, prices are meant to go down in response to falling demand. This has not happened in Greece – at least not yet. While the Greek economy shrank by an average of five per cent a year between 2009 and 2011, consumer prices rose by an average 3.7 per cent a year. The combination of falling revenues and rising prices has led to an explosive political mix.

It is not politicians but grassroots activism that has come to address this issue. In April, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) reported a 24.6 per cent drop in potato prices from March 2011 – the largest ever one-year drop in any commodity. The reason for this historic deflation was what has come to be known as the potato movement – and it is having an empowering effect on Greeks, not only as consumers, but also as citizens and voters.

The seminal event of the movement was a free distribution of more than ten tons of spuds in the centre of Greece’s northern metropolis, Thessaloniki, on February 5. It was organised by a group of farmers from the village of Nevrokopi, Greece’s potato-growing capital.

The farmers were protesting against imports of Egyptian potatoes – while they had barns full of the Greek product – after a meeting between the agriculture minister and potato importers days earlier failed to yield any concessions.

Read full article here.

Victoria: Food in the State Metropolitan Planning Strategy

I received an email yesterday from Anthony Bernadi from the Heart Foundation regarding a new Metropolitan Planning Strategy being cooked up. I’ve copied it below – it might be of interest to you out there who need to reclaim the land in which you belong…

A new state Metropolitan planning strategy is currently being developed by the Department of Planning and Community Development. This strategy aims to provide a long term vision for Melbourne for the next 20 – 40 years, and includes consideration of planning for housing, transport, open spaces and communities. It will replace the Melbourne 2030 strategy (and the Melbourne@5 million update). Previous metro strategies have given little consideration to planning for food, and we would like to see a high priority given to planning for the availability and accessibility of healthy, sustainable food for Melbourne in the next metro strategy.

A recent series of reports in the Age highlighted the importance of planning for food, particularly in relation to the threat from urban development to key areas of fruit and vegetable production on the city fringe <http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/city-sprawl-hits-food-bowls-20120525-1zaeq.html> . Most of this land has been lost already to urban development, as these maps <http://www.theage.com.au/national/growing-over-our-food-graphic>  show, and remaining areas must be protected in the new metro strategy. The Victorian Parliament Environment and Planning References Committee Inquiry into Environmental Design and Public Health in Victoria <http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/documents/council/SCEP/EDPH/EDPH.pdf>  recently emphasized this in its recommendation that, “the Melbourne Metropolitan Strategy includes measures to identify and protect valuable agricultural land in peri-urban Melbourne”.

There is little information available about the timeline for development of the strategy, or the consultation process, but a discussion paper is being written and a metropolitan planning strategy website <http://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au/>  has been developed. The website has a number of live discussion forums, including a peri-urban forum <http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/forums/index.php?/forum/11-peri-urban/> , that seeks views about priorities for peri-urban areas on the fringe of the city, and a communities forum <http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/forums/index.php?/forum/8-communities/> , about planning for ‘healthy, safe and connected communities’. These forums are good places to raise issues related to planning for food in the metro strategy.

We encourage you to make your views known about the importance of planning for food in the metro strategy on the forums, and to keep informed about the strategy’s development by subscribing <http://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au/contact-us/subscribe>  to the Metropolitan Planning Strategy newsletter for updates.

The Food Alliance and the Heart Foundation are preparing a joint briefing paper on food considerations for the new state metropolitan planning strategy, and this will be made available to stakeholders in the near future.

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