Local Food

May 13, 2013

More and more communities, neighbourhoods, gardeners and farmers are becoming aware of “local food”. There is growing interest and excitement in the prospects of producing food from within the local area and making it available for profit or just to share surpluses.

The costs involved in transporting foods hundreds if not thousands of kilometres are reason enough to look at “local food” projects.  High energy demands in processing, storing and transporting, and the additional issues of nutrition, wellness and local employment all add to the checklist.

Last week Bingara teacher Rick Hutton, represented Bingara Central School at a Schools’ Kitchen Gardens Projects forum held at the Thalgarrah Field Studies Centre near Armidale. Presenters included officers from the Royal Botanical Gardens as well as the Thalgarrah staff.

Themes such as composting, planting and plant combinations, worm farms, and projects to engage, inform and delight students from pre-schoolers to senior high school were discussed. Re-cycling household, community and farm waste, are issues of increasing importance to our modern societies. Many ideas for utilising waste materials in garden projects, as well as arts and crafts were considered.

Bingara’s current entry in this field is The Living Classroom. It has a Community Forage Garden and a Community “Family Tree” Orchard as two of its projects planned to commence this year. The forage garden will feature a “food forest” design with vegetables, fruits and herbs planted in what will appear to be a disorderly pattern. In fact the design will be to encourage the mutual advantages that plants gain from being in a “natural array”, and to encourage exploration and discovery by the foragers. Finding something fresh and tasty from amongst the wild garden will be the “delicious” challenge.

Local Food
This composite picture includes Local Food ideas from Belingen’s Northbank Community Forage Garden, Bingara’s River House edible garden, Yamba’s “Edible Mainstreet Garden, and the Eco-Village Garden in Hoi An, Vietnam. Courtesy; Rick Hutton.

The Community “Family Tree” Orchard invites local families to donate towards the planting of a fruit tree. Each tree will be noted onto a GPS plan and a map of the orchard will be available. In the same spirit as Bingara’s famous War Memorial Orange Trees, the fruit from the orchard will be available once ripe to be picked and shared. Apples, pears, plums, some citrus varieties (other than navel oranges), and some rare and unusual trees, will be included in the Family Tree Orchard mix.

How can you get started in the local food revolution? Rick Hutton will be conducting an Introduction to Permaculture Course at The Living Classroom on May 24. The course is offered through the Bingara Community College. Skills and information relating to home and community gardening projects will form part of the course. A second day will be required for this introductory course. That day will be determined by those attending on the 24th.

With planting at The Living Classroom getting seriously underway this year the community is invited to suggest ideas for the project. You can have your say through the press or by providing your ideas through Gwydir Shire Council or Bingara Community College.