Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Community Garden may not be the way to go...

I am negotiating a transition moment.

The primary school garden I had worked in & ran for a few years was running itself...that is before the pandemic. I had stepped back from it also to focus on my Vetiver activities.

But there is sure to be a local call for a 'community garden' to be established as we gain access to local building and grounds for community general use.

So why not a garden?

That is surely the likely knee jerk response.

My take on community gardens is that they take a lot of commitment and energy to sustain.So many have folded. The fashion has passed.  For people without land to grow things in they may make sense, but even if you are a renter it's straightforward enough to grow stuff in containers.

Since I was looking at the Landcare/Coastcare option it struck me during this pandemic experience that what 'a' community needs is really a nursery. Local indigenous species, herbs, fruit/nut trees and vegetables.

If your neighbours can get seedlings cheaply and easily then that's a big advantage for the whole 'locally grown' thing.

A nursery will still serve as a community hub. Requires volunteers and attention. Can function as an educational and training project. And raise money for other community activities.

With a nursery you don't have the challenge of allocating space to some individuals and not to others. It's looks outward towards the local community rather than just focus on activities within the garden beds. 

Herein is the kernel of an idea....

Image above:Randwick Community Nursery.

Indeed, this pandemic has been very instructive in way of suggesting what may best serve the local food ethos. I went into seed raising mode very quickly as I had renovated the patch and it was sparsely populated. As the beds fill up with plants, I get a sense of green thumb meaning.

I hand water every day or every other day and that's made me more subjectively engaged with the photosynthesis about the place.

Hand watering is the best learning exercise. You gotta visit each individual plant and attend to its various needs.

It's customized gardening.

When the chooks got out and savaged some recently planted seedlings my anger and despair held no bounds. Then the very next day a bush turkey arrived in the garden.

I do my best, but I'm not god.

And I thought I had everything 'just so'. But when I visit each plant checking on its health, I take hope from the ones  that were not taken from me -- wrenched from my bosom as it were.

What remains and I  are gonna have great meals together.


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Comment by Dave Riley on May 21, 2020 at 8:40

Oh Barbara I am no newbie to community politics....

Here in the MBRC there are at least three community nurseries...excellent ones, that specialise in native Wallam plants. All with a great fund raising turnover. Especially Bribie. The up-river Landcare group also has  small one.

The council has dropped all support for community gardens. A feww years back a couple of folk wanted me to 'be in charge' for the floundering Bribie Community Garden that did not survive.

And Christa, eve if we send someone to buy from Warren's vegey stock at Caboolture Mkts , for local distribution -- we'd be ahead. He and fam are now sentenced to a car park in Warmuran under Covid conditions.

The problem is for any local enterprise is that you could never beat Warren's prices. Not that you'd want to be competitive.

Comment by Christa on May 21, 2020 at 8:30

I suppose it comes down to need.  It would be great if you could entice your Caboolture market man to bring some seedlings to sell to the local community nursery.  It could become a trade place for excess produce.  It would work in your area, better than a suburb in Brissy.  The gardeners would feel their local community gardens were truly theirs. 

Comment by Barbara Tealby on May 21, 2020 at 7:28

Dave, I heartily agree that a local community nursery is the way to go. I ran a successful little community native plant nursery some years ago, and we had many volunteers, who really enjoyed the experience. Activities like seed processing and packing, as well as pricking out and planting provided the social contacts that all enjoyed. It is easy to start with not much in the way of infrastructure, though, of course it is a really good idea to have the local council, etc on side. Keeping overheads low means that you can sell seeds, seedlings and plants for reasonable prices. Ensuring there is always a cuppa and a slice of something also helps. However, be warned, SOMEBODY NEEDS TO BE IN CHARGE. 

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GrowVetiver

Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.


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