xviii. ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA + ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION
A number of respondents cited Gardening Australia as affecting change in the community toward sustainable, self sufficiency gardening. The Gardening Australia expo, and two key speeches by Peter Cundall and Jane Edmunson (FGA forum) provided illustrative evidence of this educational drive.
The ABC Network’s Gardening Australia provides substantial information on both sustainable gardening and self sufficient gardening, through television, print, radio and the internet. It also publishes an organic gardening magazine. This acts as an alternative to garden industry based commercial media programs.
It is clear that with these garden experts on side, a lot of people not as touched by movements like permaculture, are gaining easy access to the same kinds of principles. In recent times, Gardening Australia has increasingly documented the broader influences that are covered in this research.
Garden radio programs are also a traditional source of information offered to the community, and provide invaluable garden advice. This is particularly important to the broader community. With radio, access for all is within reach. Community radio stations also offer garden shows. Anne Bishop from Prahran Garden Club, interviewed for this research, participates in the 3CR Garden Show hosted by Pam Vardy, co-author of “Community Gardens – A Celebration of the People, Places and Recipes’.
Earth Garden and other permaculture magazines are also widely circulating and give the general public much practical advice. Karen Sandow said: “We try not to preach to the converted. We try to get the mainstream involved that haven’t heard of self sufficiency through our magazine.”
There was some consideration included for internet networks and resources in this research. However it is drawn more from its use as a data collection method than a subject of study. The internet offers an electronic web of garden information that is staggering. Investigating internet sources could be a large investigation of its own.
In regard to this research’s question, those who have internet literacy and access are able to surf an amazing array of gardens on the internet. The advice in on a global scale, and there is significant support based in Melbourne for sustainable, self sufficient gardening.
However, many older members of the Ivanhoe Garden Club were found to not use the internet. More broadly, economic conditions may be expected to affect internet affordability for those on low incomes.
The internet was used as a research tool, through secondary community literature, as well as responses elicited through email contact. The internet did allow this research project to widen its geographical scope, and has gained invaluable information via email from suburbs in the outer east and outer south-east, the west, the urban fringe, and a few outliers in a spirit of bioregional interconnectiveness.
As such, although personal interviews, site visits and observation were all significant, the breadth of this report in a short timescale was aided and abetted by the internet. Interestingly, Google web searches for “community garden” and “urban farm” pulled up completely different garden examples in Melbourne.
Communal garden spaces are not as easy to find on the internet, although networks like the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network offers an invaluable internet resource for this purpose. A majority, though not exhaustive amount of community directories from council websites were scrawled through and provided many of the community garden discoveries during the research process.
Email was seen as being logistically easier for research consent purposes, than phone interviews, though some respondents preferred and responded via phone. This could be seen as a limitation of this research, though site visits and email were more than effective in gaining primary data in the study’s timeframe. Web forums were abandoned as the least effective data collection method early on.