Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Hello BLF!

My name is Siobhan Colombo and I'm a graduate ecologist and doctoral researcher from the Cities Research Institute at Griffith Uni.

My field of research is biophilic urbanism which is an emerging paradigm in urban planning that considers nature as a primary focus in all planning and legislative decisions. This includes both conservation of existing natural features and the inclusion of natural elements in the creation of our urban environment. This approach benefits the urban community physically (e.g. mitigating the Urban Heat Island effect, managing runoff, improving air quality) and increases our well-being, simply through daily exposure to the vitality of nature.

The end result of this design template is the creation of a biophilic city - that is, a nature loving city :)

Globally, this paradigm has been actively pursued by many cities. The benefits, perhaps obvious to people such as ourselves, are becoming more pronounced, and both contributing factors and implementation pathways are becoming clearer. To various extents, community gardens are an essential part of every currently recognised biophilic city - they enable food security, increase the presence of ecologically effective surface area and, perhaps most importantly, provide an excellent vector for long-term social change.

As active community gardeners, I'd really like to learn about your own perceptions of urban nature and how you might define a nature loving city. Please feel free to add to this dialogue because it’s not only an opportunity for me to understand your perspective, but also a legitimate and powerful method for you guys, as Brisbanites, to contribute to a process that will ultimately benefit our city and planet :)


Siobhan :)

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Sounds interesting. What exactly do you want us to do? And a lot of us are women, btw.

Hi Elaine,

My apologies for the use of the term "guys" - I meant no offense :)

It would be great if you could simply add to this discussion...there are so many different ways in which people celebrate and engage nature when they live in an urban region! For example, a cyclist will have a different view to a recreational gardener and in turn, both will be different to an urban farmer. My research entails the "super easy" (read NOT easy at all ;) ) area of quantifying urban nature and listening to others' perspectives is always incredibly valuable when attempting a (more) complete understanding of such a large concept.

Furthermore, no input will be used in a manner not consented to by the contributor :)

She wants to know what you would see as a nature loving city, Elaine.  I'd actually be interested to hear what you think as well, given you are one of older and very experienced gardening members.  

Now, I know you don't agree with me, but lots of younger folks use "guys" like we used to use "folks."  It has no gender link for them.  Alas, the days of "guys and gals" are over.  It went with correct spelling, punctuation and any sense of what is good music.  And, don't you rant, remember these "guys" are the ones who just voted for same sex marriage! 

Indeed, what Andrew said :) 

Except for the correct spelling and punctuation! At least, with me ;)

I do use emoticons and, while some might find it annoying, I am unrepentant! There is no tone in text and a picture is worth a thousand words :) ;)

Hi Siobhan

I'd like to see lots of green space made in a way that is disability friendly.  I'd like to see much better quality public transport which was so good that we could easily ban cars in the CBD (and nobody would care).  I'd like to see households growing their own food and trading with neighbours.  In higher density living areas, I'd like to see community gardens.  I'd like to see urban planning tackle the psycho-social - how do we get back that sense of community in neighbourhoods?  What facilities can we provide that encourage people to get to know their neighbours?

I absolutely agree with you! If you're interested, please check out Biophilic Cities - there are a lot of people thinking exactly the same way :)

Well Freo is a special case: strong migrant tradition, the unifying role of  working at the port, the cohesive local working class community and the cheap housing.

But each suburban landscape is different -- especially as each epoch of development and gentrification   impacts on the space. Brisbane problem is that prior to the 1980s it was a small city with much cheap rural land close by.

That changed sharply with the northern drift in the eighties -- what Wayne Goss called 'rust belt refugees' -- and the urban treacle started spreading north, south and west sharply and keenly.

In the past and even today folk greened their spaces inappropriately by planting large trees in small spaces or went native flora without considering the growth result a decade later.

However comparing Brisbane between the 1980s -- a city of lawns and hills hoists -- to today is a story of a keen greening.

But any further greening needs to be planned and led and engineered in partnership with neighborhood stake holders.

Such that the key issue, I think, at the moment, is remaking the roadside verge. Allied to that is fast tracking flood mitigation design by harnessing run off into the soil rather than allowing it to rush to the sea via our properties and roadways.

So I think any 'biophilia' needs a water budget as a primary driving force.Indeed the indulgent, generous and often corrupt development real estate projects in our city have fostered more risks for its residence. How many developments in Brisbane have been built on floodways and filled in swamps?

Brisbane lost a big hunk of its wetlands to the Brisbane airport and Fishermans Island port while Sallyanne Atkinson sought to turn Boondal wetlands into an Olympic Village and canal estates. The vast Chermside 'common' only exists because one guy bequeathed it to the BCC.

That said, I think the growing of food is a great motivator for greening. However, I'm sure that as long as function can be determined then the dynamic will expand. How do we cool our street? Can we slow down the traffic? What can be done to make foot transit safer?

 Good example: Moreland City Council (Melbourne) awarded urban heat project.

Of significance the British concept of 'the Commons' as is the Swedish take on "Allemansrätten" -- the right to public access --because more and more land is being privatised.

Under neo-liberal doctrine, even public space use  is all about insurance and regulation -- and preferably cost accounting --assuming that is,  it is not already corporately owned -- like the local 'mall' --which is more than likely built on an old flood plain.

as a final point in my rant -- one of the largest handicaps to neighbourhood driven greening in Brisbane was the forced amalgamation of councils by the Beattie government.

Big is not better.Big councils have been a disaster.

Big is bureaucracy kowtowing to development.

Big is less democracy and community control.

Good examples of where councils have worked their greening best (oh what a surprise!) : un-amalgamated Moreland and Fremantle.

G'Day Dave,

I'm the choir and your "rant" was, in my opinion, entirely justified and completely legitimate :)

Please think about attending our workshop next Friday, if you can spare a few hours. I would love to have your input!

Hey Andy, thanks for the prod.  

Hi Siobhan, 
Fabulous.  I'm familiar with the Singapore city in a garden idea and aim to get a Brisbane suburban version moving - a bit like a suburban long paddock but for wildlife and people, not cattle.  You can see a bit about what I'm on about at   

While community gardens are all very good, I think a higher priority is the masses of public land that we use so badly in our sprawling city of Brisbane.  Once that is done, community and individual food gardens will just be a natural part of the mix.

I've registered for this event on the 24th  

G'Day Gayle,

And thanks Andrew! 

Singapore is an excellent example of a biophilic city Gayle :) The perspective shift and planning happened so long ago, they are considered pioneers of BU even though the term is quite recent. 

And thanks for coming along next week - I know it's short notice and I appreciate it :)

Heya Gayle,

I've just been having a squizz at BCL and I'm eager to meet such a measured critical thinker. Thank you again for coming along :)

Sounds like you would certainly be an asset to BLF. You will find most of our members would appreciate your values and enthusiasm.

As Andy says Disabled Gardeners have a bit of a challenge getting around large gardens. I am disabled myself and stairs are my main concern, we need more railings on steps but better still gently slops are easier to use. I would also like to see more gardens that consider those in wheelchairs (perhaps raised gardens would help), gardens for the Visual Impaired (plants to feel and smell). More Green Spaces in city and suburban area where families can get together, with more seating (perhaps using local products. I would like to see more Art in the Gardens.

If you would like to put your upcoming workshops on BLF, just go to Events and do the same as you did for this Discussion.


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