Permanent Sustainable Development
Well I going to do a talk on permaculture and sustainability. After looking at those words in relation to what I’ve been doing I tried to develop this talk to embody my experience in those words, and how it got me to where I am, and what we are doing to perpetuate these words in our world and our lives.
So I was born in Vic, in a pretty agricultural area, pretty flat, mainly sheep farming area, if not sheep wheat, semi arid in the summer, freezing in the winter, growing veges was hard and short experience. We had fish in the damn and yabbies, and had various animals.
I remember one day I was hitching back from school, and I got picked up by a local farmers wife. As we were driving through the flat monoculture of wheat as far as the eye could see, she said, :” doesn’t that look beautiful” I replied, “ what? all that out there”, I looked about and all I could see was ploughed paddocks, with tiny new shoots of wheat. I then said,” No not at all it looks as though we have destroyed the place”. The farmers wife pulled over and told me to get the hell out of her car. This was the moment that changed my outlook on what we as a race are doing to this beautiful land.
My first job was helping a family friend develop a permaculture style organic farm, which was pretty much shovelling shit for a few weeks in
the sun. I remember talking as we were planting, about why we were doing this, and the future was in the forefront of our minds. We were
planting long term trees, ie gingko, euks, citrus, building with recycled materials, all in the name of sustainability, I didn’t know it then but I
realise now what that was doing to me, and how it was shaping my future.
I then went into the welding industry, this took me all over the place and put me in a situation where I got to see, only a small bit in comparison to the whole world, I got to see wastage on a scale that was mind boggling. Materials, enough to build a small town, fuels, food, life etc……This put me into a frame of mind that was a fairly against what I was
doing. I then got a job in the country building a huge chicken factory that was controlled by people in Sweden, and employed 5 locals, and put out 3 million chooks a week. Which is where I met Hannah and her three little children. We fell in love and decided to move to Bellingen for the kids to have access to a good music dept at the schools, and to be in a good growing area was a bonus. I soon met Steve smith, who was just starting up a garden for veges for him and his kids. This was a old community garden which had since stopped. Steve invited us as a family along with another family to start digging. We all pitched in financially, and with great physical effort and community support made it what it is today.
THE YOUNG GARDEN
Well the garden is 5 acres of cultivated land that is open to the community 24/7, for harvesting growing buying veges produce and seedlings. We have many types of fruit trees, and are collecting many more. It is on private property, owned by a very generous local who has donated the land to us for this purpose. We started the garden so that we could have affordable access to nice local food grown organically. We hadstarted it up with a no meeting policy, which was a bit unorthodox for such a project but it allowed us the freedom to create, at our own pace what we were imagining it to be.
We started off focusing on the clean up from the last garden attempt that was on that site, old log hearts, old drip tape, carpet etc…
Then we got some money together to get the initial ploughing done. A few years down the track we had a lot of community support and it was growing at a rate which we could no longer afford to keep paying for. We then bought the nursery business off a local lady which started to become the main source of income for the garden. We also started up a food box system, and edible street scapes was also happening under our wings.
We then started to formulate a committee, to help with the running of the whole shabang. This was a pretty backwards way to start, but it has it’s benefits. The garden was started out of necessity for access to beautiful food grown locally and is fresh and chem free. We grow and sell open pollinated non hybrid seedlings as much as possible, we collect a fast amount of seed from the garden. We have honey bees and are trying to start a local bee co-op for the area. We have a grid connect solar system, kitchen, stage green house, all made from recycled or sustainable materials. We facilitate and hold workshops at the garden in all areas of horticulture and permaculture.
The food box is a csa style food system that was started about a year ago by a few of the garden crew. We looked around at the local area and saw that we had access to a lot of local produce that wasn’t redly available to most of the local consumers. We decided to formulate a network of growers to provide on a weekly bassis what they could. This is then divided up into pre ordered box’s which are picked up by the customer. This is a big project now having up to 85 box’s being ordered every week. It is now providing employment for local people, and giving family’s the best of the local stuff, all with low food miles, and minimal impact, grown organic or chem free, and is local gold.
Edible street-scapes, is a transition town initiative which is going on world wide, and is about moving towards having food in the streets of towns and
cities around the world to make it easy to access for every one. As part of that we planted about 40 citrus trees next to the local soccer
fields and have three vege gardens in the cbd of Bellingen for every one to pick and share.
The Bee Co-op
well the bee co-op is an idea that a friend and I had. We are trying to formulate a co-operative environment for local small scale bee keepers. Because the hobby can be quite expensive, we are trying to set up a group that can share knowledge, experience, cost, materials, etc… so that we can produce good local cheap honey. We are looking at ways in which we can start producing a mix of medicinal honeys, and hiring out hives to local farmers and growers, to do our best for the bees and their current global predicament.
Now the real reason why we are doing this and what gets me out of bed every morning. THINK GLOBAL ACT LOCAL. Its time to change people, we at the garden started trying to make a model of how things might be able to be done when necessity comes
knocking. We are all aware of peak oil, global warming, deforestation, petro chem industry, big brother, new world order, struggling world economy
and the list goes on, all the stuff that we know is helping things go the wrong way. Yet it happens every second every year, with not much sight of change. Well here we are, in a time where it is possible to look back on the past we have created and where it is leading us, and I’m pretty sure that we, even they, can see it is leading us in the wrong direction but no one can find the brakes. What are the brakes is the question I ask myself.
World war, depression, fall out, interstellar forces, no water, 2012………Who knows, But it will inevitably happen because this is unsustainable, as a macro and micro world. So what then? Where would we be in this world, of necessity? Well we would have to rely on community, family, effort not money. Maybe love not greed. A resourced based economy, utilising local knowledge, talent, ability. Managing locally grown materials like bamboo, hemp, timber. Trading in produce and time instead of money. Surviving on our ability to grow and produce local food without relying on chemical fertilisers
and tractors for digging and ripping. Having to save all the seed you can grow, so you can grow the following year.( We all might have heard what they are going through in New
Zealand). Raising you own proteins like meat and eggs and dairy. Creating co-ops of local growers to distribute produce through local closed loop systems and micro-macro networks, like csa’s and other models. Employment of manual instead of mechanical labour.
Now, this is already happening in Asia and places where the farmers are putting there tractors out to rust and buying ox’s and buffalo to plough their lands because they cant afford fuel. We will have to create energy efficient low cost housing, using renewable resources, like hemp, bamboo, and selective timbers. Its only been 100 years since the industrial revolution, and look what it has done to the planet. A massive a mount of good stuff has come from the industrial age, but it has been at a huge cost to our environment, so I believe this is the perfect time to look back on our creation and use what is good, for creating a healthy world with a bright future.
Take all the knowledge and experience and steer it towards healthy minds and community’s.
This is an amazing time to be alive, we as a race are discovering things in medicine, astronomy, particle physics, science, agriculture, things that are questioning where we are heading, and what the hell have we been thinking?…One of the greats, describes a fool as “someone who makes the same mistake three times.” Well I see us as a race perpetually making these mistakes, day in day out. I believe we can stop it, it’s not easy and it will take a while but it can and will happen. 2012, was that it? The change……………………….. what is it? I feel that there is a mass awareness of change throughout humans at this point, I don’t believe the world will end, no way, I just hope something changes for the better, toward a more caring concious world. I’ve been trying to live on a thirteen moon calendar for a while now and I believe there is a lot to how we perceive time and what time is to us as a
society. We can make a change every day a bit at a time, by “acting local and thinking global”, Planting your own veges, giving yourself the time to be in the mode of creation, to allow ourselves to create a healthy environment for you and everyone around you if possible. If we look at just a few examples of how things are in the world in regards to our food, and the cost to the environment through our farming methods. Massive over grazing that allows the loss of fertile topsoils, monoculture’s that need pesticides that kill the soil and bees and other insect life. Chemicals used to ripen, then stop over ripening, then stop decay, then stop the fruit from producing viable seed. Which also shouldn’t be eaten. Massive amounts of fuel is used to kull life in the most abundant places on earth, the ocean. Which is already struggling to keep up with the demand in most of the worlds oceans. We, as a smart, very intelligent race of beings, can make choices to change the situation, starting in our local area. Supporting community gardens, growing seed, sowing seed, sharing produce, teaching others how to do the same, this is the answer, teach the kids where it all comes from, and how to respect it, grow it and eat it. One thing I’ve noticed since being earth minded, is that amount the kids have learnt from being around the garden, and living a life where food is grown and not so much bought at the shop. I’ve had mothers thank me graciously for giving their children the place to experience food from the ground to the plate. There is a big movement of food education in schools at the moment
and for the past few years, a lot of schools have gardens so the children
can experience the growing of food, and this is great, there needs to be more of it, if your childs school doesn’t have a garden that should be easy to change. They are easy safe and fun. This is the way to planting the seed of change in the minds of tomorrow, so that we might have a better, healthier future, with an abundance of food growing in the streets for every
Well, all this equates to an image I have of the future, that I try and work towards a bit everyday. The NCG committee had a visioning workshop the other week and it was amazing to hear what we were all imagining. The common scene was food everywhere throughout the town, food forests, fruit trees in the parks, all the good stuff. In regards to our projects in Bellingen I hope to one day have an open university in field of organic farming and micro food industry management.
Teaching students how to maybe get some of these models happening in their home country’s and towns. Give students a well rounded practical experience in food growing, horticulture, permaculture, aboraculture, food forest creation and management, bio fuels, reforestation, bio dynamic farming, bee keeping, usable bio-mass farming, and all the other excellent fields that our local area has to offer. Bring in some more employment opportunities for our local area through development of a eco tourism industry focused on sustainable projects for the community. In the bigger picture I can see us having to look back on the past and taking a lot out of the pre industrial age, and get back to our roots. Creating these projects throughout our towns and cities now, will be planting the seeds of change so that the future is a greener more environmentally aware more co operative society. Where food and water is precious, and abundant, with the knowledge of how to grow food is common, and communities are smaller more, self reliant and sustainable.