Brisbane Local Food

Growing local


Here's the great post from Jerry Coleby Williams:

and it warrants reading.

I have a 'nature strip garden'. I created it because I passionately hate mowing and my nature strip was big enough to hold a house. There is no path and every pedestrian  here uses the street. The nature strip is only used to park cars or deliver mail. It is wasted urban space that we are expected to maintain gratis.Here an un-mown strip is not maintained by council.

I have been dobbed into council twice by anonymous neighbours but my strip has approval after an officer visited.I just told them, either I do this, or I won't maintain the land at all.

It has taken me years to develop the plantings as the soil and context isn't horticulture friendly.The old roadway is underneath my strip.

But on my strip I grow:

  • lemon grass (which I harvest a couple of times each year for mulch)
  • a coastal leguminous creeper (don't know its name)
  • nasturtiums
  • some native reeds (not very successfully)
  • a mulberry tree
  • a coastal banksia.

I also, now and then,  grow sweet potato and choko as ground covers and have just sown pigeon peas in the hope that they'll take.

Never thought of aloe vera -- but Jerry Coleby Williams has! 

I still have to mow the nature strip but I use an electric whipper snipper to do that. After so much experimentation I gotta say high performance electric snippers are go! 

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Can't get a link to work but below is what I have found on JC-W web

As with you, Dave, our nature strip is enough for a house build.  The nature strip planting by council in our street was Poinciana trees.  These trees often have large trunks and exposed roots and it is an ideal place for hardy plants around the base, where people cannot walk safely.  I would love to see more greenery on the nature strip. I think the council thinks more of the negatives than the positives of nature strip planting. 

Councils are very aware of being sued and go to great lengths to save people from themselves on that account.

This is very timely, as there was a story about this during the week (or last week?) on 612 ABC radio. It seems that the Council is becoming more sympathetic:

That was interesting Rob. I've really no idea what the rules are in my own MBRC shire area. If I could be bothered I would follow it up.

Just on what could be the utility of the nature strip in flood mitigation, theres' this challenging essay/manual:

From Slovakia! I think the case is exaggerated, but if we viewed the nature strip as the frontline of flood mitigation in sync for local residences protocols --we're certainly engaging in a new water paradigm. 

As  the Srí Lankan king, Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186) said—

"Not even a single raindrop should be allowed to flow into the sea without it first having been used for the benefit of the people..." 

I think such remoulding of approach -- initially in Brisbane's hillier suburbs -- would greatly lessen downstream flooding. The city's penchant to engineer grass covered flood plains -- Breakfast Creek, Kedron Brook, Enoggera Creek, etc -- may indeed be a mistake. We need to engorge the water table elsewhere and use vegetation to absorb and slow down inundation.

In places this redesign is happening --such as part of the Bald Hills flood plain, but nothing is in place to slow or stop the water flowing -- indeed rushing -- down from elevated land.

Upstream -- there are dam issues and the fact that so much land has been cleared for agriculture.

We also need to revisit the water tank issue. Things have got slack since we moved out of that horror drought , with its water restrictions, of 2006/2007.But we cannot forge ahead with water tank take up while the price of town water is a brutal levy that does not encourage water conservation.

So you can't have a privatised, market driven water supply, with a creative means to conserve water , simply because conservation undermines profits. 

As long as we take care with water tanks -- especially in regard to mosquitoes -- we're gonna be way ahead. But in the same way, and with the same care -- like on Bribie -- we can create a succession of holding ponds, marshlands, pools, etc in each suburb that store water, feed the water table, slow its movement downhill, and enrich our natural verges. 

Heres' some more stuff:

A bit of history :

Nature Strips: A Forgotten Feature of Urban History

and a great initiative:

Brunswick Communities for Nature

Further on this perspective of 'the nature strip'  as flood mitigation, ambient coolant, habitat sustainer, and food garden -- as well as the online article I referenced -- Water for the recovery of the climate – A new water paradigm (pdf) -- Brad Lancaster's manuals are a great , even essential, resource.

Among the best 'gardening' books I've ever read...

What I think is that every time we see water flow down the street and gutters, we have to wonder if it could be harvested rather than lost to run off.

Indeed, as the new paradigm pamphlet  argues, water is rushing away to the sea in massive volumes and rates since modern agriculture, land clearing and urbanization consolidated over the planet.

Anyone flying south from Brisbane  down the eastern seaboard or further west registers these changes simply by looking out the window.

Even what little water  seeps underground is under threat from the Coal Seam Gas industry...throughout the country.

With rising global and local temperatures driven by climate change we'll need to rethink how we cool our suburbs while being considerate of more savage storm cells, the impact of cyclones,  heat waves, flash floods, bushfire and droughts.

Interesting report on burning:Hazard-reduction burning has limited benefits in curbing bushfires:...

The traditional suburban lawn or nature strip doesn't cut the mustard. They belong to an old suburban paradigm, ruled by the Victa Motor Mower and a 50s fancy.

We have to harness these verges and put them to work.

Plant what? For what purpose? By whom? These aren't questions that indulgent green thumbs are asking of their nature strips.More is at stake.  In terms of the shift we'll need to make, it's part of the journey every community will need to negotiate.

My view is...

That the future of community gardening sits on the urban nature strip...& the school garden option & the bushcare/landcare process. By that I mean the community convergence that is engendered by gardening together.

We'll need standalone projects like the Sandgate Green P or the Northey Street City Farm to relate to and train at -- but the question of space and maintenance  can so often be under our noses.

Here we have this massive space -- in every suburb-- akin to the English allotment spaces, indeed probably in acreage larger than there -- and we aren't, as a community,  allowed to relate to, foster and exploit  it. 

How absurd is that?

These spaces even have local water access!

It is  our commons.

The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately.

It may have been a grossly mistaken  layout imperative to allocate so much space to residential verges as the Australian suburbs were created, but since they exist --  why should we be brutalized by the tyranny of the Victa Motor Mower or the insurance angst of bureaucrats in local government?

I'm just going to photograph my footpaths before I garden them.  It will be very difficult for council to argue that I have not improved safety for the general public.  Honestly, someone is going to kill themselves on all the exposed roots from their stupid council trees.  

I think I'll grow less common edible greens like sweet leaf, maybe some of the different spinaches and betel.  I'll hang signs on them to explain what they are so that people can help themselves if they want.  Mind you, not that anyone walks on the sidewalks in my street - for some reason they walk on the road.  It's probably a reflection of how inviting the footpaths currently are NOT.  

They walk on the road around here too. Just reserve the green bit for casting rubbish upon.

How are you going to keep up the water to the plants with the street trees sucking it all up?

Around here we are allowed 1 street tree supplied by council. Mine is a Rusty Tuckeroo, a local seaside tree which grows absolutely huge. There's a selection of trippable roots too and a hailstorm of non-compostible nuts enclosing seeds. Not that I'm going too (struggling to keep my own garden current) but big bins would be the go here. The soil is compacted just to make it more of a challenge.

I'll do what I do best and go upwards with raised beds Elaine.  I should be able to add to my existing rainwater irrigation. 


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