Council looks after its own patch

Byron Council wants residents to think about more about growing their own food. And it’s leading the way by starting its own vegie garden.
The circular garden around the council’s Mullumbimby meeting chambers has been picked as the location for an innovative trial to demonstrate urban food production on council-managed land.

The council’s sustainability officer, Graeme Williams, said the Food Production on Public Land Project aimed to demonstrate the re-localisation of food production as an alternative to global food distribution systems amid a future context of climate change and post peak oil.

Mr Williams said the circular garden bed had been chosen because of its profile, visibility, access, soil condition and contained nature.

He said studies into the sustainability of Australian food systems had highlighted the strong link between the transport of food from production to consumption and the generation of greenhouse gas emissions.
The threat of climate change and the price impacts of declining petroleum resources would challenge both the legitimacy and viability of current food production and distribution systems, he said.

Mayor Cr Jan Barham said re-localising food production made sense when looking at what was happening around the world.

Cr Barham encouraged all residents to look at growing even a small portion of their food on their own properties.

“Many people grew up with a family garden, and with the economic crisis, it’s not only a healthy alternative but also a cost-effective option,” she said.

“The public space garden will provide a demonstration of what is possible and hopefully encourage residents to think about what food production might be possible on their own land.”

The council is holding a free community planting and opening celebration for the Food Production on Public Land project on Saturday, April 4, at the council chambers starting at 9.30 am.

The day will start with a community planting and will be followed by a presentation at 11am from popular ABC Gardening Australia personality Jerry Coleby-Williams, who is renowned for his approach to urban food production.

Jerry will discuss his family’s experiences during World War II when ‘Victory Gardens’ were planted in backyards and vacant lots that were ‘commandeered’ to reduce the pressure on public food supplies brought on by the war.

Residents interested in participating in the community planting are encouraged to bring garden gloves, hats and closed footwear.

Byron Hinterland Seed Savers group will be holding a free ‘seed exchange’ on the day.

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