gathering THE 2015 GATHERING OF THE AUSTRALIAN CITY FARMS & COMMUNITY GARDENS NETWORK…

FERN AVENUE COMMUNITY GARDEN, a suburban food forest in Adelaide, South Australia, was the welcoming and inspiring venue for the April 2015 gathering of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network.

There, in the community garden's solar-powered, water-harvesting strawbale community building, people from as far afield as Far North Queensland, Western Australia and Sydney came together to review the past year in community garden development and to plan for coming years.

Community gardening, the cooperative, DIY approach to urban food production, continues to grow in Australia's cities. Now established, the practice is contributing to the building of resilient food systems and cities of opportunity.

Fern Avenue Community Garden's solar powered, water harvesting, cement-rendered strawbale community building was a comfortable structure for our meeting. A generous pergola creates a shaded outdoor social space for the warmer months.
Fern Avenue Community Garden's yield includes food, conviviality and learning

Teams…

Discussion defined the four teams that make up the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network:

  • the Exec Team looks after organisational matters like policy, finances and governance
  • the Membership Team is focused on managing that aspect of the organisation, especially now that the Network is introducing paid membership
  • a Research Team is investigating the possibility of offering insurance to community gardens as part of membership
  • the Communications Team looks after the website, social media, eNews and other communications business.

The people who make up the Australian City Farms & Commuity Gardens Network enact their values through the organisation. These values are pro-community, pro-democracy, pro-good food and pro-people's freedom to control their choice of the foods they want.

John McBain from Western Australia looks at the camera as a group engages in discussion.
These values are pro-community, pro-democracy, pro-good food and pro-people's freedom to control their choice of the foods they want

The Network connects people to place and community through a philosophy and literature based on citizen food production and shared management of public and private land, along with the Network's promotion of community food systems and their benefits to creating resilient communities and cities.

The Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network is powered by people's passion and experienced, their knowledgable and enthusiasm about their work.

Connecting and sharing ideas through the Network's website and social media, at national and regional gatherings and through its online, downloadable fact sheets and ebooks, the Network's role in assisting new and established community gardens and city farms, as well as local government and researchers, has been acknowledged many times.

Fern Avenue Community Garden's Cecile Storey.
The Network connects people to place and community through a philosophy and literature based on citizen food production and shared management of public and private land

Potential awaits…

The gathering agreed that there is great potential for the Network to expand its existing role as an umbrella organisation for community gardening and related community food strategies in Australia. It has an existing base of knowledge and skills that could be built on, and a demonstrated capacity for education and advocacy.

Some of the potentials the gathering identified include:

  • improving our engagement in education and advocacy
  • creation of a national database of community gardens listing as many gardens and similar community enterprises as possible (a national community garden mapping system is currently being developed)
  • as community-based urban agriculturists, to share our stories, make connections and create a sense of community
  • to increase collaboration by local, allied organisations in regional gatherings
  • to increase the involvement in the Network of people already engaged in community gardening and community food systems; to become economically viable, partly through introducing membership fees and benefits
  • through the Network's social media, to link with other relevant groups and websites
  • recognition of the Network and its role and potential among local government, environmental organisations and others
  • to assist in building optimism and resilience.
as community-based urban agriculturists, to share our stories, make connections and create a sense of community

In the short term…

  • get the new membership system in place with its supporting administrative system
  • start a membership drive
  • develop the survey for the national community garden database
  • promote Community Gardens Week as an an independent, collaborative component of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance's Fair Food Week; negotiate this with the Alliance
  • develop a new communications plan.
Adelaide's fine produce, including purple popping corn.
Yummy South Australian pears

Scenes from a gathering…

No community gardeners' gathering is complete without plenty of good food. Some of Fern Avenue's gardeners came around to fire up the garden's wood-fired pizza oven and turn out tasty food using some of the garden's produce.
The heat energy liberated from dry wood quickly turned raw ingredients into tasty food
Fern Avenue — one of a number of Adelaide community gardens — is a non-commercialised community place based on food production, learning, cooperation and community-led urban development.,
Grapes, figs, citrus — just sone of the fruits making up the Fern Avenue food forest
Emily Grey from Darwin and Sarah Ladyman from Sydney are two young women influential in community gardening. Emily works with children and adults in community and other gardens in Australia's far northern tropics. Sarah was one of the people who created Sydney University's rooftop community garden and is now vide-president of the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network.
Emily takes a ride on a bicycle that is going nowhere since it has been converted into a planter frame for strawberries and pineapple.
Citrus do well in Adelaide's Mediterranean climate. They do even better in being attended by Fern Avenue's community gardeners.
Against a background of a large clump of banana trees, Network treasurer and softwear coder, John Brisbin, strolls past gardens of corn and vegetables at Fern Avenue Community Garden.
David Pisoni was at the pizza evening. David is the local state MP, a Liberal, who has been supportive of the community garden and who spoke of how he is an advocate of South Australia's GMO moratorium. The moratorium has cross-party support in government. Watching him is Wagtail Urban farm's Steven Hoffner.
From left: Emily Gray has a laugh at the community garden pizza night. Comfort,energy efficiency and a small kitchenette are found inside Fern Avenue Community Garden's strawbale community building. Sunflower art by Steven Hoffner. The Network's secretary and Western Australia contact, John McBain, ladles a cup of soup at lunch break,
Community gardens and city farms… citizen-managed initiatives within the broader practice of urban agriculture…
Displaying certificates of thanks to the people who organised the Network gathering is Emily Grey. Fern Avenue's Cecile Storey looks on while John Brisbin salvages the last of lunch's soup.
Seen through the foliage of a fig tree, the mulched garden beds at Fern Avenue display an orderly organisation.
The Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network is powered by people's passion and experienced, their knowledgable and enthusiasm…
Discussions at the Network's gathering in the community garden took on a pastoral ambience in the dappled sunlight of late afternoon.
In bringing people together in cooperation, community gardens and city farms help build a sense of community and place, and become a type of tactical urbanism creating resilient cities…
Here they are: the exec team. (from left): John McBain, secretary, Western Australia; Jane Mowbray, president, Sydney; Sarah Ladyman, vice-president, Sydney. John Brisbin, treasurer and community garden mapping developer, Far North Queensland
the Australian City Farms & community Gardens Network connects, educates and advocates for community gardens, city farms and other citizen food initiatives…
Created By
Russ Grayson
Appreciate
Photos © 2015 Russ Grayson — http://pacific-edge.info

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