Our third and final judge, Lucy Young from the Growing Abundance project based in Castlemaine in Central Victoria.
One of the standard questions I ask everyone who gets interviewed for this blog is their most inspiring food activist and food project. I find it an interesting question because there is so much going on in this space right now, its great to get the heads up about something or someone that I’ve missed! But if I were to ask myself this question then I would answer Lucy Young and the Growing Abundance project in Castlemaine (it would be a tie between her work and Patrick Jones’). The work Lucy and her team is doing in Castlemaine is, as far as I know, is unprecedented across Australia (and perhaps the world but I’m worried if I say that then I’ll be caught out!). The group is revolutionizing the local food movement in real terms in Castlemaine. Inspired by the Abundance projects in the UK, Growing Abundance takes the harvesting, preserving, sharing, distributing and directing elements of the food system to another level. The activities involved in this project can be broadly categorized into 4 groups: the havest group; kitchen and catering; local produce guide; and a food for thought film and talk series.
Very inspiring stuff. But enough from me – let’s see what Lucy has to say for herself!
+ What is growing on your curb?
Well, I don’t really have a curb as such, that’s probably more a city thing. However, we have a roadside that we have re-vegetated. It was mostly gorse and blackberry that we have gradually removed to replace with indigenous trees and grasses. The gorse did its work well in preparing the soil for successional planting, so the plants got a good start and the blackberries, well they are a dilemma from a food security and permaculture point of view. We love to eat blackberries, and so do the birds, however, on balance we chose to try to remove them as we can’t net them to prevent them spreading and causing problems in the bush.
+ Why do you think growing on public spaces is important?
Growing Food in public places is a great way to inspire people, as well as use available space to grow food that can be eaten close to its birth place – ‘low food miles’. It can also be a great way to provide information about what is seasonally available in your local area. Also, if someone clever does the planting, it can look incredibly interesting and beautiful.
+ What are your hopes and dreams for the food movement in Australia?
That growing food is valued, the time spent doing it is rewarded with status and an adequate wage and that farmers start walking back to the land, knowing that what they are doing is supported by their community and that the good times will be celebrated, and the hard times shared. I also hope that we spend more time growing food, getting our hands dirty, planting for the bees, enjoying the environment and spending less time wringing our hands and earning money to buy food.
+ Most inspiring food activist?
Wow, there are so many it’s hard to chose one. Locally I am incredibly inspired by the team I work with – seriously, this is not just a free plug! Ellen Madigan is tireless in her quest to promote local produce and create systemic change – and it’s working! Sas Allardice just keeps planting, harvesting, educating, inspiring, she’s awesome…..i could go on and on about everyone on the team at Growing Abundance, including Juliette! On a broader level I just keep being inspired by the Transition Movement and other re localisation projects popping up all over the place – Todmorden and the Incredible Edible mob are totally inspiring. I can’t really think of an individual – I tend to think more about groups.
+ Most inspiring public garden?
I was inspired over 20 years ago by CERES which is a place where people come together and learn, share, work, inspire, grow, cook, eat, celebrate. I love that….
+ Most inspiring food project?
That’s just too hard, there is so much happening in this space now, I’m constantly inspired, I don’t use FB much, but one of my favourite things is the Homesteading/Survivalism photos – you can grow food anywhere in anything, plants just want to grow, and we just need to grow them.