Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

When I consider the community garden template I'm not sure about its utility in all local situations.

It sure makes sense for folk who live in inner city suburbs with not much garden space on their properties  to grow stuff in; or for those who are renting... 

Of course community gardening is a hub for a lot of different relationships -- but do we really need to set aside a special plot -- a 'common' --  to do that? A seed savers network  may also serve the same function.

On top of all these issues a community garden requires access to shared space, a collective and  ongoing commitment, a water source for irrigation, insurance and some degree of hope that no local thugs are gonna destroy or steal your crops (as happened this last month to the local primary school's veg garden).

So I'm looking for another model...and I'm wondering about a gardening collective/cooperative where folk visit each other's gardens, help out as needed, swap seeds and plants but primarily come together to grow produce that can be distributed (and sold) locally at market stalls.

It's  a market model..a community market model for locally grown produce.

People grow their own stuff and the collective  sells any surplus to family needs  to the locals.So long as the network can be may work.

Is anyone aware of any suburban based schemes that approximate something like this? 

I know community gardens do do that -- sell/distribute their harvest -- but I have in  mind  the Organopónicos of Havana.(See video here).

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Dave Angela Hirst (member on here) and the Brisbane chapter of the Slow Food Movement together with Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance and a couple of other groups have been talking about this very thing, along with value adding to the produce being grown/sold (e.g. productioon of ferments, jams, chutneys etc.) If you like I can put you in touch?

I have always maintained that the greatest value of community gardening is in the knowledge sharing and community building that goes on - they are 'hubs' of learning and community action, sometimes, but not always, including a surplus of actual produce ;)

Good response, it is all about sharing and community education.

Taking Sandgate  community garden projects as an example -- I'd guess that there are a couple of elements in its favour, that help the dynamic.

  1. The already existing community networks that abound in the suburb.From the community centre (Sandbag --where I think c gardening began?) to the fact that the town hasn't been guttered by shopping malls Westfield style.Public space has not been privatised.Opposing the new supermarket complex was even a major local campaign, for instance.
  2. The PCYC sponsorship(esp insurance?) which has been considered and generous and made a struggling facility more relevant to the community.Ten years ago it was earmarked for closure.
  3. The people -- the local community tend to be environmentally aware and many,like Mike, community engaged.As a hub for community enterprises, Sandgate is rather unique in my  experience as I still have connections with community arts there.And working in that rich milieu has taught me a lot.
  4. Communication: in my experience access to two local newspapers and the SandBag newsletter makes organising locally there 'easier' than elsewhere. That and the fact that the locals turn out for community events as the local 'scene' there is pretty vibrant what with two festivals, concerts, community art centres, welfare networks, etc ...

It underlines how much the rest of the burbs suffer from sterile alienation and where 'sharing and community education' can lead.

Another aspect which might be of interest Dave, is Land Share. People with spare land offer it to people without. There is a legal agreement so it covers both lender and user.

A couple of lifetimes ago I was connected with an embryo co-operative with a similar set of aims. It never got off the ground, but a co-op might be a good model. There needs to be an 'auspicing organisation' - it's a bit finiky legal-wise but probably best to have something in writing and legal before there's any hassles to sort out. And there's (or was) $s to pay to the State Government to register the co-op.

There's a privately-owned 'community garden' at Mango Hill. They are or were members of BLF but nothing has been heard from them for a while.

There's a privately-owned 'community garden' south-side who are also members here. They often post events on our Coming Events board.

There's also Caboolture Seed Savers who are possibly closing soon so there's plenty of people in the general area who are keen gardeners and sharers. Getting in touch may be tricky but probably worth it to find a nucleus of interested people.

Thanks for the input.

Obviously community gardens are great networking tools but they aren't necessarily the only means to an end. If you consider the resources in most neighborhoods:

  1. Land
  2. Labor -- hobbyists, retirees, unemployed.
  3. Water access

then a certain logic is in play.

When I look down the 'community garden' path I see a lot of headaches. I also suspect that councils like community gardens because they can green-wash themselves by taking loose land out of their maintenance budget.That's OK but it maybe obscures something that's of greater significance -- harvesting the Australian quarter acre suburban block. 

Here we do have a monthly market  which is crying out for produce --so the distribution is self evident. This other model also puts the emphasis where it should be: on production, esp when you consider that all vegetable gardens grow surpluses.

I'd also considered the option of land rental esp for livestock. I had contacted the Caboolture seed savers but got no reply back

We have a garden in the middle of Deagon Racecourse.  It is run by volunteers as a PCYC activity, the main aim being to produce commercial quantities of chemical free veggies, and also to act as an education and volunteer facility, we have a Sandgate High School Class attend weekly doing an agricultural certificate course and we get High School volunteers as well, We also get Youth Justice kids doing community service hours. 

Hopefully we will make enough to offer some part time employment on the farm. At the moment we are averaging about $150/week from farm produce, but intend to increase this to $300/week by Christmas. We have a fortnightly street stall in town and also sell to buying groups, we have no trouble moving produce and there is great interest in "locally grown"

Pleased to see there's no hindrance to your group selling produce. I've read and seen on TV various community gardens and allotments in different parts of the English-speaking world, and so many are forbidden to receive $s for their produce.

An enlightened attitude on the part of PCYC and perhaps the City Council too.

And what a top job you do Mike! :) Best place ever for a community garden because of the free on site manure!

Hope things are coming along nicely with the multicultural groups?

so far, so good!!

Hi Mike,
Are you able to put up a note on this site when you have your stall?
Also if you know of any more sell/swap meets happening around the Sandgate PCYC community garden and farm ventures.

Hi, our next street stall is outside the Town Hall Bakery in Sandgate, on Friday 6 JUne, between 8 and 11 am. We will have kale, beetroot, endives, turnips, silverbeet, eggplant, basil, thai basil, rocket, and maybe one or two potkin pumpkins., love to see you there, we also post on the "homegrown 4017 FB page.  Homegrown also have seasonal swapmeets, next one in august, there is a fruitful suburbs group that meets at Apex park, Queens pde Brighton on the first sunday of the month.


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