Activism: Neighbourhood Supported Agriculture

I spotted this photo on my facebook feed earlier this week and it made me smile. I know the whole CSA thing in Australia hasn’t taken off hugely, but a NSA – well this is something that NEEDS to take off!

The photo is from an article about Transition Newcastle’s fantastic recognition from the NSW government on their work on sustainability initiates around the town. This is one such initiative, where like in a CSA people can contribute financially to the garden at the start of the season and then share in the harvest later on. Simple, appealing and most of all I love the signage.

Over the past few months I have posted a few blogs about what is happenining in Newcastle NSW – and I thought I should share the latest…

A quick refresh, Newcastle City Council held a closed door meeting (no public allowed) to sell a piece of prime public land where a community garden had been established. Once the decision was made and the community found out there was a huge public outcry and of course the media loved it. The Lord Mayer made this incredibly short sighted statement:

But Newcastle Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy says council did not have to contact nearby residents and it has been known for a while they wanted to sell the land.

“If you’re neighbour sells his house, he doesn’t have to tell you he’s selling his house,” he said.

“It’s a commercial decision and there’s no rule or regulation.

Amazing – I didn’t realise the council owned the land. Last time I checked it was common land, the council maintains it. And by the way, I think the Lord Mayor may of forgotten who he actually works for….. us.

So …

Unfortunately, despite the monumentus effort of getting the council to aggree to reconsider their action to sell a piece of public land and readdress this decision in a normal council meeting, the motion was not changed. The land will be sold, and another public asset lost.

I take my hat off to the amazing residents of that town, and particularly Cooks Hill where the land has been lost. It was no means a small task just getting the council to agree to a public meeting. Well done. Although that land is lost, and it is a big loss, the community and the council knows what is at stake. The war continues …

When I look at the image at the top of this blog now, although I still enjoy the use of language and the signage, I think about how important our neighbourhoods are – participatory communities, participatory agriculture, participatory democracy. Its the same puzzle, it all fits together.


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