Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Urban farm: community permaculture in action. A new film about Northey Street City Farm 10:13mins with Morag Gamble.



Let me take you on a little tour of one of Australia's first city farms, Northey Street City Farm . I have just finished making this little film (10:13 mins).



Northey Street City Farm is a community permaculture project I helped to establish in 1994 soon after I'd returned from a year abroad, and I think it is one of the projects I am most proud of and thankful for having been involved with. I learnt so very much there and are so grateful to the many mentors I encountered. The 5 years I volunteered there in the early days shaped so much of the work I do now.

There have been so many people involved in the farm shaping it into what it is today and I am so incredibly impressed at how it has evolved over the decades. I'm so delighted to still be involved after all this time - albiet just as a drop-in teacher role.

Back when was 24 and so ready to get my teeth into doing something practical and positive. I had just returned from studying at Schumacher College (the then newly opened centre for ecological thinking where I took courses with Systems thinker Fritjof Capra, Deep Ecologist Arne Naess, Gaian Ecologist Stephan Harding, Counter-development advocate Helena Norberg-Hodge and Earth Pilgrim Satish Kumar). 

I had also travelled solo to ecovillages such as Findhorn, sought out pioneering community gardens and sustainability centres in the UK such as the iconic Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, and also travelled over the Himalayas by bus to volunteer in Ladakh with Helena Norberg-Hodge (www.localfutures.org.uk). Eco-activist Vandana Shiva was also in Ladakh at the time working with the project too, as was Pulitzer prize winning poet/ecologist, Gary Snyder.  

Back home in Australia mind was full of ideas of what was possible, my heart was full of hope and I was just so keen to put my heart and soul into a meaningful project that could contribute to the positive ripples of action in many directions.  Something that would enable me to connect my head, heart and hands.

It's 24 years since the Northey Street City Farm initiators came together to look for land.  When I stand in this space today, look at what has been created, think of all the people who have shaped and been involved in the project, and consider how many lives it has touched, and how many projects it has inspired around the world, I am so moved and in awe of what people can do together.


This is such an excellent example of community permaculture in action. 

So what is at Northey Street City Farm
Northey Street City Farm is an organic community-led urban farm just a few kilometres from downtown Brisbane. In the 4 acres of land, which is leased from the Brisbane City Council, there are areas of raised beds for the shared kitchen garden, there's extensive areas of market garden where food is grown for the market, and numerous allotments where people can have their own little plot. There is an abundance of food produced and shared. 

Kids yoga at City Farm on Market Day

Most of the area however is one huge urban food forest with hundreds of fruit trees, perennials, nut trees, timber trees, medicinals and more. It is so amazing and so unique. There are honey bees and native bees, chooks, worms and compost systems. In the midst of all this, there's a permaculture nursery, permaculture education, sustainable living classes, cooking classes, yoga groups, kids groups, earth arts projects, cultural and music events - the list goes on.

The wonderful participants in my recent weekend Introduction to Permaculture Workshop

Every Sunday there is thriving farmers market - the first organic farmers market in Brisbane with music, food, natural products for the home. The chai cafe opens in the heart of the farm and people wander through the gardens enjoying being in this edible oasis.

Local CSA farmers, Sandy Creek Organics, bring their produce to the organic farmers market every week. There is such a diverse range of local organic produce of high quality,

Wonderfully, there are no fences. It is an open and accessible project that welcomes everyone to come and get involved.

The permaculture workshop participants helped to revive a couple of kitchen garden beds that are used for making everyday lunches at the farm.

On the garden walkabout in this film, you will see and hear about many of the key features of the city farm and be introduced to delicious array of incredible edibles. 

More city farm and community farm films coming
I'll will return to Northey Street City Farm soon and other urban farm projects to do more filming. There are just so many wonderful local projects happening in so many neighbourhoods everywhere.

Workshops at City Farm

There are ongoing workshops offered at City Farm about sustainable living and permaculture. I run two Introduction to Permaculture weekends each year as well as a series of one day and half day programs on a variety of topics. Visit the city farm website for more details www.nscf.org.au

Looking at how city farm started
You might be interested to see how Northey Street City Farm all got started so I've dug up an old film from 2005 made by a couple of old friends. It includes interviews many of the people who were the driving force behind this place becoming established so successfully.  Eating Your Park (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BEgss2df5c)


Further information about community gardens and city farms:
In Australia, a fabulous resource for getting a community garden or city farm started is the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network. Morag was also part of the founding group of this national network.

In other countries, there are superb resources too such as:
  • Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, UK 
  • RUAF Foundation :www.ruaf.org (Urban Agriculture and Food Systems)

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