ACFCGN’s 2017/18 committee


President — 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.

Watch his short film of ACFCGN’s Ambassador Costa Georgiadis.

Vice President — Naomi Lacey

naomi-laceyNaomi 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 ways.

Secretary — Joel Orchard

Joel is a new school farmer, food systems activist, passionate advocate for young farmers and ecological agriculture.

Joel has been instrumental in establishing Future Feeders and the Northern Rivers Young Farmers Alliance as a young farmers hub, capacity building, peer support and farming network.

He is an active member of the Mullumbimy Community Gardens and current president of its association Mullum Sustainability Education and Enterprise Development Inc.

Membership coordinator — Jane Mowbray

jane-mowbray-200Jane 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

Australian Capital Territory — vacant


Damien Gillett

damien-gillettDamian is new to the community garden scene, but is passionate about education and community. Hence the drive to establish his communities first garden. Seeing the need to have a place that can be used as an education tool for local school children, inclusive space for the growing multi-cultural population and designed to aid the elderly, it is exciting times for the local area. 

New South Wales — vacant

Northern Territory — vacant

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.


Jo Dean

Jo DeanGrowing a garden relies on a healthy soil to sustain growth. Jo has worked maintaining healthy soils in a variety of organisations over the past 20+ years and is passionate about sharing the joy of gardening with others.

Food security is the focus of Jo’s efforts, working alongside women in Fijian villages to establish and maintain kitchen gardens to feed families as well as hosting community education programs.

Currently supporting programs in her local community, Jo volunteers as the Food Security Facilitator with the Women’s Friendship Group, which supports newly arrived Afghan Hazara families to settle in Launceston

Jo also works at West Launceston Primary School Community Garden implementing garden to plate education programs in the school, and is part of the Permaculture Tasmania team sharing learning days and courses in Northern Tasmania.


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.

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.


  1. M Pinchback

    I am doing some research about larger community style gardens and sustainability and cost and wonder if you have any data on (or can advise where i may look?)

    Start up costs involved in establishing a community garden
    What is a realistic size land required to feed 50 -100 people daily?
    the cost ($ and man time) of maintaining a community garden and out put per M2 per person
    How many people are needed for such a venture?
    Anything else of relevance

    Thank you
    Mossy Pinchback

    1. John McBain

      Hi Mossy.

      Our apologies, I have just noticed your comment – its best to use the NSW contact for NSW queries.

      Has anyone replied to your query?

      If not, please let me know.

      Kind regards


  2. Kathryn

    Hello! My name is Kathryn – I live on the North Coast of NSW and have been an avid gardener for over 20 years, with a focus on permaculture and sustainability. I have worked in many domestic gardens and also for several community gardens. Some years ago I became interested in a concept a friend was developing regarding composting – the basis of all good soil. His idea was rather than have aboveground composting, where there are often problems with weather, smells, rodents, pests etc, why not put the composting system (now called the Subpod) underground and let the worms and microbes do the work directly in the garden.

    Embedding the Subpod in the ground allows it to act as an insulator and the nutrients from the worms and microbial activity can be transferred directly into the surrounding soil. It also means that if the Subpod is not tended to for a while, the worms have somewhere to go in search of food! I really liked the idea that the compost and garden were all together rather than the compost being tucked away in a corner somewhere out of sight (and smell).

    As a gardener, I could see the advantages and potential and was so interested in the concept that I have spent the last four years working with Andrew in Byron Bay, and the team at Compost Central, setting up pilot projects and designing a flat packed version so we could ship it anywhere. The result is the Subpod, a complete underground composting system, which is now ready to be manufactured.

    As we are a start-up company with no advertising budget, we are relying on word of mouth to let people know about the Subpod. This is why I am writing to you personally to let you know about it, as I think the Subpod would be perfect for your community garden and other gardeners in your area.

    In order to be able to start manufacture, we have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. There is a special bargain price for the launch on the Indiegogo site – $89US for the first 300 buyers then $99US for the rest of the launch. We also have an Affiliate Program that allows community gardens and organisations who have groups of like minded, composting friends to raise funds for their projects, etc.

    Please email me if you have any questions about the Subpod. Thank you for taking the time to look at this information. I really hope you find that the Subpod would be a great addition to your gardens and you would like to help us divert organic waste from going into land fill. Check the website at and our social media pages too!

    Happy composting!

    Regards Kathryn Ph: 0407 877 309

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