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Resource – The Food Gardener’s Alliance

Posted in Events, Policies, Research by Ferne Edwards on June 27th, 2008

Please find more information below about which relates to another of our presenters, Marika Wagner from the Food Gardeners Alliance, who recently featured at the Sustainable Cities Round Table on Sustainable Food Systems.

Food Gardeners Alliance: Friends of the Vegie Patch.

Who are we?
An alliance of horticulturists, educators, home and community gardeners. (See below for more details of who has been involved)

What do we want to do?
Support the rights of all Victorians to grow their own food locally. For Environment, health & community.

How did we form?
During summer one Melbourne gardener, Marika Wagner, was struggling to look after her vegie patch under the somewhat arbitrary water restriction regime. Two watering times a week are not adequate to keep vegetables alive during a Melbourne summer. Marika is renting her inner suburban home, and it is particularly difficult for those renting, and also for those on a low income or using a community garden plot to keep growing their veggies during summer. These people don’t have ready access to water tanks and other systems , as they are either out of reach financially, or not worthwhile installing in a temporary situation. .

Marika decided that some concessions, such as use of buckets on extra days, were necessary for vegetable growing, so then she decided to do something about it.

She collected over 3,000 signatures on a petition to state government about water restrictions, and gathered together a wide range of gardeners and horticulturalists to help find solutions for gardeners. We started off calling ourselves Friends of the Vegie Patch, but then decided that the Food Gardeners Alliance was more descriptive of what we wanted to do

  • as we are a diverse group meeting together to find ways to enable people to grow their own food . The first step seems to be establishing more equitable water access.

Why Grow our Own Food?
There are many reasons why we should grow our own vegetables:

  • Reducing our contributions to climate change. By reducing food miles. Our current food transport system contributes significantly adds to carbon emissions. ( for example, the food for a typical meal can travell more than 2, 0 00km). And also by reducing chemical input and energy needs during production.
  • Water Efficiency. Home grown food has been shown to be more water efficient than broadscale agriculture.
  • Fresh, chemical free food
  • Community Health, Social and Cultural benefits. . To many people, growing food is part of their culture and many culturally significant foods need to be home grown as they are not available in supermarkets. Encourages children to eat fruit and veg, is a healthy, active outdoor activity, tackle childhood obesity
  • Food shortages & increased prices. Home grown food is more economical for families.

What Have we been doing?
We are working together with community, government and organisations to resolve issues such as developing guidelines for sensible water use and bringing to the forefront the needs and benefits local food production.”

  • We have brought together Garden Experts to discuss solutions to these problems in a number of meetings
  • We have developed some suggestions on how to modify water restrictions to enable people to grow their own food, while still conserving water.
  • Petition. The Water for Produce petition elicited an enthusiastic response. It was tabled in the Victorian Parlaiment on Thursday 13th M arch 2008 by Steve Herbert with 3271 signatures. Another 265 tabled later.
  • Media. We have been part of a lot of discussion in the media generated by this issue.
  • Government –We are keen use our expertise and experience to work with government to determine the best options . A number of politicians have been contacted about this issue. Colleen Hartland, Craig Ingram, Carlo Carli, Steve Herbert have all shown interest in this issue.

What are our plans?
To help develop a response to water restrictions which will make it possible to maintain a vegie patch, while still being water efficient.
We are keen to raise the issue with the public, and also with politicians
There are plans to hold a public forum in September, and also a parliamentary forum on this issue in Ausust.
Colleen Hartland of the Greens is tabling a motion to parliament.
In the future we also want to be supportive of other issues which affect home and community food growers, and provide a network of interested individuals and organisations.

Who is involved?
Individual home produce gardeners, horticulturalists and Landscape Designers.
Individuals from Sustainable Gardening Australia, Cultivating Communities, Diggers Seeds, Nursery & Garden Industry Victoria, Bulleen Art and Garden, Collingwood Childrens Farm, Dept of Horticulture & Environment, Swinburne, CERES, North East Ranges Permaculture, Friends of the Earth Real Food Group, Holmgren Design Services, School of Physics, University of Melbourne, Emcor Nursery, Community Representatives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Manningham Council, Frankston Food For All Advisory Group, Moreland Food Access Project, garden presenters Kevin Walsh, Jane Edmanson,and a number of others

Are there others we should include????

Please contact me if you want further information.

Creator of Water for Produce Petition
marika@baag. com.au

'Silent Gardener' by Randy Mora