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Model – Sustainable snail microenterprises

Posted in Models, Research by Ferne Edwards on April 3rd, 2007

Fancy a snail for with your glass of wine? Featured recently on Landline, sustainable snail production microenterprises are a growing cottage industry in Australia. Easy to establish and maintain, snail production is suitable for both small or medium production – and can even be raised in urban backyards! Sonya Begg, a snail farmer in the industry for 20 years, has recognised this sustainable food niche and mass breeds the common garden snail, Helix Aspersa, to supply local restaurants. Numbers vary according to seasons and set-ups, yet snail production can reach as many as 1000 snails per week.

A growing market with much potential – Australia still imports approximately 5 tonnes of snail meat per year – snail production also nicely complements other industries such as biodynamic wine and olive production, shifting snails from their traditional role as foe to profitable and sustainable friend. In addition, a growers network exists in Australia, which provides support for snail start-up, quality control, assistance and even buy back.

The emergence of snails as an urban microenterprise complements the development of other urban sustainable food initiatives, such as mushroom, honey, caper and olive production. By relocalising our food sources within our cities we reduce the need for fuel, packaging and even water use, while increasing diversity within our neighbourhoods. And you think you need more space? These microenterprises challenge that myth, occupying the space of an uban backyard, rooftop or even side wall, transforming these spaces into profitable sites of production.

Sustainable Melbourne is keen to hear about more food microenterprises in Melbourne. Do you know or are involved in any? Please post responses in the box below.

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