xiii. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANTS AND GREEN NGOS
Environmental consultants that aid in uptake of self-sufficient gardening range from horticultural to permacultural specialists, and other broad environmental or sustainability consultancies. There are now also garden designers and landscapers that are SGA certified.
Amadis Lacheta explained the role Village Well played in developing sustainable gardening in the community, which included “working with developers to encourage the uptake of sustainable gardening in both new and existing developments, as we believe this is incredibly important for the future of sustainable communities.” In terms of self sufficiency, they were also converting their “outdoor balconies to include food production as an example of what can be done in the inner city.”
Environmental groups are also beginning to explore the link of developing food sufficiency, due to the food mile impact on climate change, and agricultural impacts on natural areas. Growing more food in urban areas reduces these impacts.
Sustainable gardening practices are also important for many environmental reasons. Speaking at the Food Gardeners Alliance ‘Save the Vegie Patch’ forum, Helen Tuton explained that Sustainable Gardening Australia (SGA), “is non-profit organisation that works to educate people to garden with the environment in mind.”
This can also be seen in Environment Victoria’s Fruit Peddler Project. Although an outcome of unexpected funding, Michael Chew, co-ordinator of the project, explained that it is great “to engage with people as people can turn off it is outwardly political. Everyone likes to eat, it brings people together and binds communities.”
Acknowledging the work of Friends of the Earth and food co-ops, Michael Chew explained the project also found that there is “concern over food miles from community centres and neighbourhood houses amongst more progressive elements” . This health connection has led to interest in self sufficient gardens.
Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation are all active in opposing genetically modified food, with Greenpeace combining with Diggers on an anti GM petition for the Victorian Parliament (Clize Blazey, FGA forum). Friends of the Earth Brisbane have also investigated community supported agriculture (Just Food Project, 2003).
Friends of the Earth Real Food Campaign collective in Melbourne works on community food security issues and has undertaken food gardening activities and documented community gardens.
Knox Environment Society has a Garden for Wildlife program.