Sept. 19, 2013

Food Fair Week in the PIG

IT WAS our own small step into Fair Food Week 2013 at Randwick's Permaculture Interpretive Garden (PIG) with a PermaBee in the warm, late-winter sun.

Organised by Randwick Council's sustainability educator and sustainability manager, to increase public use of the somewhat isolated community centre, the PermaBee offers participation in management and maintenance of a public facility as well as garden learning for those participating. 


Today's was one of a regular monthly cycle of PermaBees made special by being organised as part of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance's Fair Food Week. This was a trial Fair Food Week to see how it would go. And it went, even though organising time was minimal — only a couple months, but it suggests that an even better Fair Food Week could be organised with more lead time. What began as a good idea only a little over two months ago quickly bloomed to over 100 events nationally. 

The purpose of Fair Food Week is to focus attention on ways that all Australians could gain access to a diet of tasty, nutritious food, on ways that Australian farmers could obtain a fair return on their produce and not be forced off the land by chancy food imports of questionable provinence, and how small and medium size food retailers, including a growing community food sector of food co-ops, community supported agriculture schemes and other citizen initiatives could be recognised for its role in the national food economy. 

Fair Food Week enacts the celebration of good, fair food that is part of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance's Peoples' Food Plan.


Under the shelter of the Randwick Community Centre's awning Patrick from BikeWise cyclist education and services led a bicycle maintenance workshop, a regular event here. It was interesting to see a family cycle in to participate and get their hands oily.

Out in the Permaculture Interpretive Garden people were getting their hands dirty. A lot of colourful flower seedlings were planted among the vegetables. Here, they attract pollinating bees as well as beneficial insects part of the garden's pest management strategy. And, importantly for a public park, they bring colour and aesthetic appeal to create a vibrant and good feel for park users. The Permaculture Interpretive Garden, as well as being an educational resource for council courses in Organic Gardening and Living Smart, is a public park.

Ryan was the youngest participant. He and his mother are regulars at the PermaBees and he looks forward to coming along. Today, he sorted flower seedlings according to colour, emptied weeds removed from the garden into the compost bin and watered the seedlings and garden.

The PermaBee was led by Sydney Eastern Suburbs horticulturist and garden designer, Emma Daniel. Emma provides garden education workshops for a number Sydney councils and has a long association with the Permaculture Interpretive Garden. A foundation member of Randwick Community Organic Garden, she also participates in activities at Waverley Community Garden, often with her young daughter, Josie.

As usual, today's PermaBee was as notable for its social value as its horticultural, with people chatting as they worked what was really early Spring weather. A fine way to start Fair Food Week.

Story and photos by Russ Grayson, 27 August 2013

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