COMMUNITY GARDENS in the City of sydney are proving something of an attractant, with a number of visitors touring the gardens over Autumn and Winter 2011.
In late Autumn came Bert Einseidel, a retired professor emeritus who is reinventing himself, as he puts it. Instead of industrial psychology, he now works in urban agriculture with Calgary’s horticultural society although he maintains his academic ties. In Canada, his work involves assisting community gardens to get going and manage themselves. The number of community gardens, Bert explained, has grown from seven when he started five years ago to over 100 today. It’s an idea whose time really has come, it seems. Bert also works with a new food security council which, he says, is not as established as those in Toronto and Vancouver.
Bert told us about something called SPIN gardening. SPIN – it translates as Small Plot Intensve gardening – is a low-cost-of-entry enterprise, a land sharing scheme where entrepreneurial gardeners grow food for restaurants, CSAs and other enterprises in unused backyards, and earn money doing so. It is something attracting interest in Canadian cities.
Nathaniel von Einseidel is Bert’s brother. He makes his home and livelihood in Manila, in the Phillipines, where he has a private practice in planning. With a background in architecture as well, Nathaniel is the retired Commissioner of Planning for the city. One of his intrests is in climate change and coastal centres, and how initiatives to deal with this can engage communities.
The brothers met up in Australia, where they visited Melbourne and Brisbane as well as Sydney to undertake a study tour of community gardens and sustainability initiatives. In Sydney, they were interested in learning more about the proposed Sydney City Farm and to see some of the city’s community gardens, which is what brought them, after visiting Newtown Community Garden and Chippendale’s Sustainable Streets-Sustainable Communities Demonstration Project where they walked the street verge gardens with their
young citrus trees and other plants, to the James Street Community Garden then on to the Randwick Sustainability Hub.
Next, along came Hannah Moloney and partnerAnton. Hannah was on her way to an ActionAid project to document local food initiatives in Tanzania.
Her background is illustrious... participant in the innovative The Source project in Hobart, Tasmania - to build a food cooperative and food garden; consultant, with Nel Smit, for the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network via the Tasmanian Community Gardens Network and, most recently, with Victoria's Cultivating Community, providing assstance to community gardens on social housing estates.
Hannah is clearly going to be a leader in thed evelopment of community food systems in this country.
More recently, two community workers visited the gardens. ...... are to start a community garden at Warrawong Community Centre in the Illawarra, south of Sydney.
The two were in Sydney to visit the three social housing community gardens on the Waterloo Estate where they met Georgina Clark from the Community Development Project that auspices the gardens. Georgina works with the UNSW Faculty of the Build Environment that set up the Community Development Project. After touring the estate's gardens and talking with Georgina, we went on to the James Street Reserve Community Garden, Newtown Community Garden, Randwick Community Organic Garden and the Randwick permaculture Interpretive Garden.
The good thing for me in hosting these visitors to the City of Sydney and other community gardens is learning about the varied experience and needs of the visitors.