Not for profit service EdibleScapes have been working hard with their volunteers to establish a wide variety of edible gardens in the first phase of their communal edible garden project. So far the gardens have produced culinary and medicinal herbs, vegetables, edible plants and fruit trees, with enough surplus to regularly donate to the Nerang Neighbourhood Centre’s Foodbank program.
The second phase of the project – The Edible Garden Promoters education program – is about to begin, and will equip volunteers with the knowledge and skills to grow food at home and then teach their neighbours to do the same.
We caught up with Head Gardener and Project Founder Jorge Cantellano for a quick chat ahead of the education program starting.
What was your inspiration for starting EdibleScapes gardens back in 2017?
Around 2016 I was engaged with the Riverkeepers Bushcare group at Nerang’s Country Paradise Parklands. I developed a design for a proposed Great Walk track with thematic stations through the Parkland and in doing consultation and review of the park’s original master plan I came across the concepts of ‘community orchard’, ‘interpretive food centre’ and ‘permaculture food forest’. I started educating myself about communal edible forest gardens and edible landscaping in open spaces.
Could you tell me a little bit about why it is important to initiate urban food solutions as a matter of urgency in our community?
We have all heard the worrying predictions of potential huge food insecurity in the near future as the global system starts to show symptoms of societal, economic and environmental crisis. However, that point has now come and crises are already upon us. In this precise pandemic occurrence, just as in the occurrence of natural catastrophes in Australia and the world as a result of human induced climate change, it is clear how fragile is the global food system.
With most of the population living in urbanised centres, is it evident a civic local response is needed to create resilient, healthy food systems in our urban spaces, both in our home and in our common areas. The city has water, organic waste, spaces, a warm micro-climate and under-utilised labour which can all be harnessed to grow food to cushion us from food insecurity.
How is the EdibleScapes garden model different to a community gardens model?
The community gardens model is good to develop social food knowledge, however it is not a social impact solution due to the space limitations of plots that are normally shared by several club members for their own consumption. An intensively grown garden of 100 square metres is adequate to feed just one family of five annually.
Therefore, EdibleScapes is a model of a different kind of community food initiative and promotes urban agroecology.
Could you tell me a bit about why sustainable and regenerative food practices are so important?
Apart from the huge environmental impacts of toxic agribusiness, there are human health costs reflected in the numbers of illness associated with food – forms of cancer, diabetes, immunodeficiency disorders and allergies, not to mention behavioural and mental health impacts among others.
Unfortunately organic, regenerative and sustainable methods have been misappropriated by agribusiness which relies on importing industrial “organic” foods and continuing operate with little respect to fair trade and labour justice. This makes the organic food an exclusive and profitable market for them.
In response to these issues, farmers and farm workers, small family farmers, urban food growers and consumers together are building agroecology food sovereignty alternatives that exist in harmony with living ecosystems and human communities.
Is there anything you are looking for particularly in volunteers for the Edible Gardens Promoters Program or is everyone welcome?
We are looking for volunteers who can spare 15 hours per week over 6 months for the program. The training involves knowledge interchange and discussion, practical learning in the EdibleScapes Gardens and an individual practical assessment in the volunteer’s own home garden. We want volunteers who are willing to develop an edible garden at home, which can then become a demonstration garden for their neighbourhood.
EdibleScapes welcomes new casual volunteers at all times and anyone who would like to support the training program or simply work in the garden from time to time is welcome.
Our vision is to open many demonstration gardens within our communities where the connective spirit of neighbourhood community gathering.
For more information about the Edible Garden Promoters education program, you can head along to an information session at EdibleScapes Gardens, 74 Billabirra Crescent Nerang on Saturday June 13 from 8.30am – 11.30am.
Head over to fb.com/n.ediblescapes to reserve your spot.