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2016/17 committee

2016/17 committee


President — Peta Christensen

Peta Christensen has worked with Cultivating Community, an urban agriculture and community food systems agency working across Melbourne, since 2000.  Peta has worked on a multitude of projects in that time including school gardens, community gardens, community markets, food policy development, food waste avoidance and other community food projects.  In the early 2000s Peta was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to explore urban agriculture and food security projects in Brazil, Canada, USA, Cuba and Denmark.

Peta has been on the executive of ACFCGN since 2013.

Vice President


Secretary — John McBain

John has experimented with methods of producing food from urban waste for over a decade, and in 2013 incorporated the urban food project Sustainable Urban Nutrition (SUN) : SUN

He is admin for the WA Community Gardens FaceBook page and the WA Community Gardens website.

John’s three favourite community gardens in Perth are: Perth City FarmFremantle Environmental Resource Network and Murdoch Community Garden.

Membership coordinator — Jane Mowbray

Jane Mowbray has been a community gardener at Glovers Garden and a seed saver for about 15 years.

She worked in state education for 32 years teaching primary students, writing curricuum material and being a maths consultant. Now gloriously retired Jane enjoys part time work in sustainability education, gardening and leading seed saving workshops.

She is a member of the Inner West Seed Savers and helps to maintain their seed library at the Bower In Marrickville. Jane has been on the executive of ACFCGN since our Melbourne conference in 2007.

Treasurer — John Brisbin

John chews on a mash-up mantra: “i am what i eat | i am the change i want to see”. Ruminations continue. His business interests are expressed through BoaB interactive (, based in MT Molloy, Far North Queensland.

He was befriended by Jude and Michel Fanton in 1997 and became enchanted with Australia’s blossoming community food systems. Determined to contribute, he founded Australian Community Foods in 1998 and met Russ and Fiona along the way.

In 2002 he earned a Masters in Social Ecology for his research into local food systems and an entropy-grounded theory of ethics, and became more involved with ACFCGN in 2007.

Currently John and wife Caroline are opening up the heavy shale/clay soils and fascinating district of Mount Molloy with an eye toward patterning a tropical pharmacy community garden.

Media Officer — Russ Grayson

INSPIRED by the idea that we can make our cities places of opportunity, my interests are in developing a resilient urbanism to which end I work with communities on initiatives that make our neighbourhoods safe, sustainable and convivial places to live. My focus has been on community food systems and the social capital that develops when communities collaborate in creating them, but it extends beyond this. My approach is guided by the philosophy of: work with those who want to learn; work where it counts. I:

Currently — thanks to a background in journalism — I am media liaison for the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network.

ORDINARY MEMBERS  — state representatives






Chris Brown

Chris is a plant nerd. Over the last 10 years, Chris has been involved with many community garden projects in his hometown of Newcastle, NSW. Chris was the Coordinator of Habitat in Harmony Community Garden for 6 years, where he focused on community building, protecting biodiversity, and environmental education.

These days, Chris is working in community development, where his focus is on supporting people who engage in environmental projects and sustainable agriculture. He is also involved with his local permaculture community, as the secretary of Permaculture Hunter.

His favorite plant is Maidenhair fern.

Northern Territory

Naomi Lacey

Naomi is a permaculturalist who is passionate about promoting healthy food systems, sustainable lifestyles, and cultivating community. She helped to establish the first community garden in the satellite city of Palmerston in Darwin and is currently the chairperson for the garden.

Naomi believes that community gardens are a wonderful way of promoting her passions and that they are the ideal place for people to come together and share in so many

South Australia

Christy Spiers

Christy’s story began in the Aboriginal community of Ernabella, South Australia.  She is comfortable in creek beds, where she went on to organise camps as a young person and then after studying communications at the University of SA developed as a project manager of the Schoolies Festival SA and non-profit organisation Encounter Youth.

Having three children sparked her interest in homemaking and sustainable neighbourhoods which led her to study permaculture at the Food Forest, dig in The Goody Patch community garden and research Edible Churches.

In short she loves conversations and action that come out of creek beds, camps, parties, homes and neighbourhoods. She is currently an Urban Sustainability Officer with Natural Resources Adelaide & Mt Lofty Ranges.


Nel Smit

Nel believes every child should experience the magic of growing, harvesting and then eating food from the garden. Nel works for Greening Australia at the Sustainability Learning Centre in Hobart. She works with teachers supporting food gardens in schools and early learning centres.

  • committee member, Taroona Neighbourhood Garden
  • established the Food Alliance of Tasmania which has been active in food security issues
  • coordinated Eat Well Grow Well in Tasmania, convened State Growing Communities Conference in 2010, and developed a database of over 100 school and community gardens around Tasmania.
  • part of a dream team for Food 4 Thought, National Conference, 2014


Lorna Martin

I have been a gardener all my life having grown up on a dairy farm in Gippsland, then 10 years dairy farming in Northern Vic. However, my health was suffering and on my return to Gippsland I discovered I had food allergies which contributed to CFS/Fibromyalgia.

Nutrition supplements and Kinesiology helped me regain my health which enabled me to return to work, firstly in horticulture then with Telstra which meant moving to Geelong, the best thing that ever happened for me.

I got involved in gardening groups, started my own Gardening business, did a Permaculture Design Course, Diploma in Sustainability & Barwon Community Leadership Program.

I’ve been on the committee of The Grinter Garden Inc since it began in 2011 and run a program for students with disabilities with great results, 1 former student has an apprenticeship in horticulture.

I talk on Gardening for Good Health at Garden Clubs and local Library’s, have a  passion for growing and eating healthy food, and thrive on the networking and educational opportunities available through community gardening. Helping others to learn about and enjoy gardening has become my mission in life.

Merrin Layden

Merrin is an urban food facilitator recently returned to her home town of Melbourne after working for The Orchard Project in London for 5 years. She is passionate about connecting people to local food, through growing, harvesting and sharing.

Now a freelance community garden worker, Merrin is involved in a range of projects including:

  • delivering training in urban orchard skills
  • working with school children through Cultivating Community’s School Food Gardens Program
  • supporting local food-based community development programs in the inner north of Melbourne.

Western Australia

Anthony Ridolfo

I am relatively new to the ACFCGN but I have grown up in a community environment which mimics these values.

I represent the Permaculture West committee rather than a specific garden.  In this capacity I am able to assist in varying areas and it frees me up to assist with many different gardens however required.

Obviously Permaculture is my main focus and I try to use it as a guideline with all I do,  I believe this is a great model for living and a great way to grow communities.

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