HISTORY AND CULTURE
Organic growers get connected
20 Oct 2013 05.42 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Whether you’re a food gardener, an organic farmer, or a DIY dabbler – social media is offering new and interesting pathways for you to exchange labour, produce and ideas with other like-minded individuals.
What do you get when you combine growing small with thinking big? The result is the linked in food gardener revolution – a group of people using traditional organic growing methodology but networking through innovative technologies in untraditional ways.
The movement is typified by organisations like Landshare, connecting growers to people with land to share in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, Guerilla Grafters, activists intent on changing the urban landscape in the San Francisco Bay area and providing city-dwellers with access to free organic produce, and Backyard Harvest connecting those willing to donate fresh produce to lower income households and the elderly in the United States.
Many of these organisations use technology innovatively – placemarks on Google Maps identify the whereabouts of food gardeners, allowing individuals to network effectively in their local areas, while forums, noticeboards and blogs allow the exchange of ideas to flow free and unfettered.
Here, we review a sample of these initiatives and explain how you can benefit by connecting with the broader organic grower community and being an internet savvy food gardener.
Landshare – United Kingdom, Canada, Australia
Landshare, a 70,000 member organisation in the United Kingdom, recently launched in Canada and Australia is described by its founder celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as a “food revolution destined to be the next great thing”. Landshare connects growers, those who have land to share and those with time, tips or tools to donate. The concept is simple – utilise unused land to produce quality food in local communities, promoting subsistence cultivation and health awareness at the same time. Landshare advises food gardeners join its register by creating a profile as a grower, sharer or helper, posting a listing, and getting connected with keen locals.
Sharing Abundance – Melbourne, Australia / Backyard Harvest - United States
Sharing Abundance (Melbourne) and Backyard Harvest (United States) are initiatives of varying scales organised along the same lines. Sharing Abundance is a small scale Melbourne initiative, while Backyard Harvest has six chapters and a national US presence. These organisations share knowledge, produce and labour to prevent food wastage by harvesting and distributing ripe food to needy individuals.
Guerilla Grafters – United States
Guerilla Grafters, as their name suggests are involved in the clandestine grafting of fruit tree branches onto ornamental and non-fruit trees in San Francisco. Despite the act of grafting to public trees being against the law, Tina Hui – the head of the Guerilla Grafters – believes the actions of her organisations lie squarely in the public good. “What better to alleviate scarcity of healthy produce in an impoverished area,” Hui says, “than to grow them yourself and to have it available for free.” The Atlantic Cities records that the organisation intends to develop a “mapping application with data on tree type and location” to assess the feasibility and progress of their initiatives.
Towards a greener future
These varied initiatives display a bright future for the promotion and uptake of organic food gardening around the world. Making it easier for members of what once was a niche demographic to connect with each other and educate newcomers will do a great deal for food conservation, health and sustainability.
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