I received this message on the BLF facebook page from Margot:
I am a student from Northwestern University in Illinois, USA. This summer, I'm conducting a 6-country research project on local food systems and food security. I'll be visiting Brisbane from August 1st to 12th, where I hope to interview organizers of various forms of local food systems. Is there somebody at Brisbane Local Food who would be willing to assist with my research, either by email or phone prior to my visit, or when I am in Brisbane?
I told Margot that I would be happy to help her. I suggested that I talk to you wonderful folks and try to arrange some quiet garden visits for her so she can see the range of different approaches we all take (I reckon that is one of our strong points, as a group). She has now joined us here on here on the ning site. If you are interested within the 1 - 12 August timeframe, please reply in this post. I will try to arrange some kind of schedule, should we get sufficient interest.
I'd be delighted to have her here for a whirl around the wicking beds. Exhibition Wednesday might be a good date with little traffic on the roads.
Andy, I/we would be interested in helping out in anyway/form I can.
I will be available if needed at this time. Weekends are out for me in early August, but most weekdays are OK.
Thanks Elaine, Dianne and Roger. We can start to build a schedule early.
Nice, keen :) I would probably also suggest she heads over to Northey St as they are a bit of a hib for alternative food systems
Good idea Sophie.
Thank you all so much for your support and willingness to help! To give a bit more background about my research, in each city I visit, I hope to interview academic researchers and organizers and participants in various forms of local food systems to answer my main research questions, which are listed below. (My more detailed research questions are listed at the bottom of this message.)
Generally, the perspective which I'm approaching my research in Australia is how social trends and cultural preferences have caused growth in local food systems. I am still figuring out how best to analyze that in regards to how local food systems could best contribute to urban food security/what my Australian angle should be, basically. (For example, in Budapest I am looking at how changes in policy have enabled a rise in urban agriculture and in Rosario, Argentina, I am studying how the economic crisis of 2001 directly prompted a city-wide urban agriculture program to help provide residents with basic food security.) I would also be grateful if anybody has suggestions regarding that aspect of my research!
• What key food security-related benefits do local food systems provide to urban residents?
◦ Do they increase the physical availability of food within an urban area?
◦ Do they increase people’s economic and physical access to food?
◦ Do they enhance urban residents’ nutritional practices?
• How can local food systems ensure urban residents’ food security during political, social, economic, and environmental shocks/disturbances?
• What types of local food systems best serve to foster urban food security?
◦ Key types of local food systems:
▪ Networks that connect peri-urban farmers with urban consumers (e.g. farmers’ markets, CSA)
▪ Public/private/shared urban spaces for urban consumers to produce their own goods
▪ Public/private/shared urban spaces for urban residents to produce food to sell to other urban residents
• What political/economic/social context/involvement is necessary to develop new/enhance existing local food systems to foster urban food security?
◦ Who are the key stakeholders in local food systems around the world? What are their incentives for organizing them?
◦ Who is benefiting from LFS and how are they benefiting? What classes of people may not benefiting/be harmed/be excluded from them?
Goodness! That's way beyond visiting a few backyards.
Northey Street would be a good place to start.
There was a number of people from various parts of Africa who have or had a community garden around Logan. We were hoping to visit but nothing came of it. I only mention it because they gardened very much in their way rather than ours and it was a very productive garden.
The Food Streets in Buderim could also be useful; run as a loose co-operative with Council approval.
I disagree Elaine. We are a food network. What I like about our network is that it is so different. We share information, plants and some resources. We do not advocate for any particular approach. Nor do we ask folks to grow certain plants in certain ways. Our network is quite different to any other than I have seen. Our gardens mostly benefit ourselves. However, I reckon I now grow plants from things supplied from at least half of BLF, and often with information that I gathered from the BLF site. This is a very different style of network that could flourish where formal networks fail.
Good points, Andy!
I strongly agree with your points. At first, after reading her thesis, I was going "Whoa - are we really what she would be after" just like Elaine. You have convinced me :) I know that 1/2 the stuff I have, I wouldn't even have known about/had the confidence to try, if not for BLF (panama berries, honey bees, black sapotes, garden rooms (extended my ability to grow citrus), salvia's, dragon fruit, loquats, all shahtoot mulberries, figs, sweet potato's, potato's,ginger, tromobonnccinos, comfrey, my beautiful chilli bush, wicking beds) So yeah, if she feels that we are what is suitable, then I'm in. I know my passion for edibles is partly due to a little scary voice in my head saying if everything goes to sh*t, at least I'll be able to have food and also the worry of what is in my food.
and I don't think she would expect to answer her whole thesis from BLF. Elaine's suggestion about Buderim is worth mentioning to her. I suspect our humble yards won't even rate a mention, but she might get one idea or two of different ways to look at food networks. It's also interesting that you touched on the "s*hit hit the fan" notion. I've remarked before that I suspect a lot of us have a tiny touch of the prepper mentality.