To say 2017 is going to be a big year is an understatement… particularly considering the first couple of months set a blistering pace and delivered a number of early gifts for the committee. Not to say that it’s all going to be rainbows and butterflies, if you’re even slightly aware of the geopolitical and ecological context we currently find ourselves in, I’m sure I don’t need to explain.
However, as much as it appears that the world is at its melting point, I can assure you that simultaneously there is an incredible renaissance at play and the negative is fueling the positive. For example, Trump was the best person to be elected. Not because his policies are exceptional or because he’s the ‘best’, but because he reflects America back to itself and this reflection is inciting societal change.
This year is going to be epic for FPC, no matter what, as we have the opportunity to start an urban farm, help close the Flinders green waste loop further, bring resilience to our local community’s food supply using big solar dehydrators, build a wood fired pizza oven and straw bale wall, be a part of Grow Free with our own cart, manage an amazing orchard, drink and possibly sell our own herbal teas out of a Mad Hatter themed tea garden, develop native bush food trails through out the campus and contribute to regenerative land care action and then some!
Talking of societal change, our wonderful department of Buildings and Property at Flinders Uni, has very kindly agreed to support the beginnings of the Flinders Market Garden.
What’s a market garden you might ask? Essentially it’s a micro or urban farm that is typically less than 1.5 acres and can scale down to any sized plot that produces food to be sold. While it’s commonly perceived that farming has to be a multi-acre operation, it’s often the case that smaller systems are more profitable and generate higher yield. It doesn’t achieve those benefits by using destructive industrial agricultural methods, but rather through regenerative practices such as no-till.
The Flinders Market Garden will be a student run, not-for-profit urban farm on campus that aims to bring students in touch with locally grown, sustainable produce. The farm will allow students to learn how to run an urban farm, build practical skills and potentially contribute to academic pursuits, including research.
The plan is to start with 18 raised beds, potentially made ‘wicking bed’ style. We’ll be holding a big community wide working bee to prepare the garden as there will be a great deal of help needed to prepare it all!
The models for the market garden currently in discussion are as follows:
- Market model: For every 2 beds growing produce to be sold to commercial vendors, there is a bed growing produce to be distributed to students and staff at cost price point. This could be done in conjunction with a local producers market held on campus. Produce, alternatively, could be sold online and collected.
- Free model: For every 2 beds growing produce to be sold to commercial vendors, there is a bed growing produce to be distributed for free to staff and students.
- Contribution model: For every 2 beds growing produce to be sold to commercial vendors, there is a bed growing produce to be distributed for free to staff and students. However, only to those who contribute a minimum of an hour a week to the farm and it’s projects. This could include maintaining the worm farm, orchard, herbal tea garden, admin work and creative contribution. If scaled, the contribution model could also begin using the ‘market model’ or the ‘free model’ for excess abundance.
Bear in mind, that while the committee believes food should be free, we understand it takes energy to produce food and it must be compensated to be sustainable.
Personally, I love the contribution model and it’s possibilities. The sheer idea of being rewarded with tangible value for contributing to your community is incredibly exciting. But we’ll have to see!
For anyone who would like to look more into the farming methods we will be using, check out a guy named Curtis Stone the urban farmer. He has an amazing Youtube channel and I consider him to be at the forefront of our food revolution for a number of reasons of which I won’t go into here.
I hope you can begin to see why this year is set to be magical. I can already imagine harvesting produce and delivering it to the chefs, taking out pizzas from our new wood-fired oven and enjoying dried fruits and herbal tea from our incredible garden on campus!
President, Flinders Permaculture Committee