Looking at Landcare: Sourcing 'wild' foods in the city

The most recent bi-annual landcare conference was held in Brisbane with experts in their field sharing their knowledge.

The most recent bi-annual landcare conference was held in Brisbane with experts in their field sharing their knowledge.

Part of this week has been spent in Brisbane, participating in the National Landcare Conference.

One of the conference's highlights was a trip to one of the CBD's mini farms.

One of the conference's highlights was a trip to one of the CBD's mini farms.

The conference is a bi-annual event held in different states, with the intention of knowledge sharing, opportunities to learn from speakers who are experts in natural resource management.

As part of the Conference, field trips are organised to visit projects or organisations that are pushing the boundaries and making a difference in their respective areas.

I attended a field trip in the Brisbane central business district, which would not be the traditional field trip that I would have normally chosen because I usually am keen to get out into the open space. I was challenged by the title of the trip ‘Sourcing fresh food in the city landscape’. Firstly, I thought it was a bit of an odd title, so I looked further to find that the trip would visit a Mini Farm project, a local food distribution organisation sourcing locally produced food and a community garden.

Interestingly, even though these organisations are all within the city of Brisbane, they all still provided heaps of information and ideas for projects and undertakings in our community.

The Mini Farm Project, a not for profit organisation, was set up to provide garden space in unused blocks within the city and produce food for organisations that distribute meals and fresh food to homeless and underprivileged within the city. The garden is also a space for volunteers to come and spend time in a green space. The idea is that the garden is also portable, so when the land has to be utilised for another purpose, the garden beds, water tanks etc can be moved to another site.

We moved on to Food Connect, which was established by a dairy farmer, Robert Perkin, who had lost his farm in the late 1990’s and undertook a mission to create a fairer food system, engaging local farmers to provide food in the city, but sourced from no more than a 400km radius. They are looking to reduce this area as they grow.

Rob established Food Connect as a social enterprise. Over 40% of the retail dollar is paid to farmers. Minimal packaging is used to try to reduce the carbon footprint. 5% or their annual turnover is donated to community groups and food rescue programs. They work closely with their farmer suppliers and try to maintain a line of contact between the supplier and the consumer, so that the consumer has a deeper understanding of the care that is taken by the farmer to provide high quality, fresh produce.

We finished off the day with the Milton Community Garden, which was established after the floods in Brisbane in 2011, with funding that was provided to the school for improvements. The garden is set beside a school, but within open parkland owned by Council. Many of the people involved in the project are connected with the school.

The garden works from wicker beds to provide efficient water to the produce and it has provided a social space for events and community involvement. It is always fantastic to see wonderful things happen as a result of a disastrous event like the floods.

For more information on any of these events, go to our website at centralwestlachlanlandcare.org, facebook, twitter or Instagram @cwllandcare. To register or for further information on any of the events above, please feel free to contact our office on 02 6862 4914 or cwllpo@hotmail.com and we will be happy to provide further information.