Story and photos by Russ Grayson, June 2015
SOMETIMES THERE’S A DELUGE of news and its hard to keep up with it. That’s what it’s been like this past week or so.
In contrast to the serial reporting of bad and alarming news in the old and tired media of newspaper, radio and TV, it is often good news, or at least news of hope, that makes its way through the channels of online and social media.
Let me tell you about a few of those items that have come across my virtual desk recently. Most are to do with our mutual interest in fair food systems and in remaking cities as places of opportunity.
A platform, a technology, new sources of food
The first is about the coming launch of the Open Food Network’s software platform for a better food system. Software, we know, is the engine that powers our online systems and when it comes to the selling and exchange of fair food there’s been something of a paucity of the stuff. Not now, though. The Network is developing a type of e-commerce software specialised for fair food enterprises and fair food eaters. Like all good online systems it creates the connections that make things happen.
“For the past six months we’ve been working with a great team of communications professionals to evolve Open Food Network’s branding and communications to a new level in Australia and internationally. It’s finally here — or at least a sneak peek! We’re soft launching to our community over the next fortnight, giving you all a preview of the new look and feel that will launch with our V1 platform later this month”, announced a message from the Network.
“Our next newsletter will cover V1 in more detail and share some of the thinking, processes and designers who collaborated on what we reckon is powerful and important step in the way we take our vision of a new food system to the world”.
The Network will be launching in UK in July and piloting in Norway and South Africa…
Competing with over 140 applicants at OuishareFest in Paris last month, Open Food Network was one of five winners, taking out the collaborative consumption category.
The Network will be launching in UK in July and piloting in Norway and South Africa, said their spokeswoman. Here in Australia, the Network seems set to become part a new ‘Thrive’ service to help community food enterprises in Victoria.
“We’ll be announcing the details in July following contract negotiations with The Department of Health and Human Services”, said the Network. “Part of this project will involve building a resource database and online community to talk about everything you need to get a food enterprise up and running”.
Crowdfuding the restart of Elgaar Farm
Melbourne isn’t the only place there’s action on fair food. A little further south, across the water in Tasmania, permaculture and sustainability educator, Hannah Maloney of Good Life Permaculture writes that, “We’re helping Elgaar Farm, a leading and awesome organic dairy, to get back on their feet.
“After almost a one-year production hiatus to upgrade their facilities, Elgaar is reaching out through a crowdfunding campaign to get their award winning dairy up and running again.”
[button_link url="http://elgaarscomeback.weebly.com" target="" style="" title="" class="" id="" onclick=""]Visit Elgaar’s crowdfunding website, resplendent with cow portraits[/button_link]
At last — the Callan Park saga moves ahead
Food production is inseparable from land, and so is the physical and mental health of urban people. That is why news from local state Member for Balmain, Jamie Parker (Greens), is good news.
The news is about the Callan parklands, 60ha of rare open space on the border or Balmain and Rozelle, both medium density, inner urban enclaves in Sydney’s Inner West. The parklands fall over gently sloping and treed lawns to the harbour. And here, in the spirit of openness, I have to stop to announce a tie-in with the parklands — I was on the masterplanning team, as the urban agriculture adviser, that looked into potential future uses of the area.
I am now encouraged by parliament’s support for breaking the impasse. The political deadlock has been broken…
According to Jamie, “An award-winning draft master plan, prepared by Leichhardt Council after extensive community engagement, was presented to the then Planning Minister in 2011. For nearly four years the community has waited anxiously for the government to respond.
“I am now encouraged by parliament’s support for breaking the impasse. The political deadlock has been broken. The community can now look forward to working collaboratively with government to save this significant site for future generations.”
Jamie gained the unanimous support of the NSW Legislative Assembly in calling on the government to secure the future of Callan Park by implementing a Callan Park Trust, working with the Trust to finalise a Callan Park masterplan noting the principles of the current draft Callan Park masterplan, and ensuring that the plan includes a long-term funding model to secure the protection of Callan Park in perpetuity.
Of potential interest to fair food advocates is the presence on the Callan parklands of Glovers Garden, NSW’s first community food garden that started planting there in 1985. The garden has been continuously cultivated since that time, bringing fresh food and social collaboration to its gardeners.