This week, in the lead up to the Reclaim the Curb competition closing, I will introduce to you each of the judges that will be reviewing your work and deciding who gets to share in the $2000 to create Australia’s most edible curb side. These are a group of inspiring individuals that have helped shape the local food movement as well as support Reclaim the Curb.
First up, Michael Green!
Michael is a freelance journalist based in Melbourne, focusing on social, environmental and community related issues. His work is often published in The Age, and he has been published in Meajin, Overland and The Big Issue. He’s also involved with the Wheeler Centre .. in fact he’s holding a Lunchbox forum on June 6th about Bursting the Carbon Bubble. You should check it out.
Most importantly in Michael’s free time he volunteers himself to amazing causes, like Reclaim the Curb where he is a founding member. He’s answered a few questions for us below about the food movement and public space. I hope you will enjoy.
+ What is growing on your curb?
My curb is in the southside shade, so it’s barren for now. But I’m daydreaming of a rosemary bush, maybe two kinds of mint. I’ve got to get my act together!
+ Why do you think growing on public spaces is important?
Food gardening in public spaces is important because it shows other people that you’re growing food. We’re easily influenced by our neighbours, so showing off your greens creates a new norm for people to follow. It’s permission for everyone to follow suit. Also, it sets the conditions for incidental interactions with your neighbours and passers-by. If you’re using public space, you begin to get to know people in your street, casually, without effort or fuss. And that is one of life’s small joys.
+ What are your hopes and dreams for the food movement in Australia?
I can’t articulate a grand vision. But I’d like to watch as people become more aware of what they eat and where it comes from. I rarely go to the supermarket these days, but when I do and I catch sight of a clear aisle, I always imagine myself cartwheeling down it. I’m not sure why that is – because I can’t cartwheel for peanuts. Perhaps I imagine it because it would be a kind of resistance: a life-affirming act in such a lifeless place. On the day that the last of the big supermarkets close, I’d like to visit one final time, and cartwheel down the empty aisles.
+ Most inspiring food activist?
There are very many, but I’ll just list a couple. I was particularly inspired by the writer and academic Raj Patel.
I read his book Stuff and Starved
a few years ago, and it changed the way I thought about food – it really emphasised the ways in which food is a social justice issue. Also, Masanobu Fukuoka’s One-Straw Revolution
is an insightful, beautiful manifesto that will fill your mind with the elegance and simplicity of growing food.
+ Most inspiring food project?
The most inspiring food project for me is Michael Mobbs’ Sustainable Chippendale
. That’s because it’s not only a food project – it’s a vision for a whole retrofit of a small slice of inner Sydney, including food, but also water, waste, energy and community. Food activists cannot ignore the urgent, inter-linked, all-encompassing problem of climate change.