vii. LOCAL AND BIOREGIONAL NETWORKS
Bioregional approaches orientate communities and their organisation to the landscapes and watersheds they live in. Many local projects are being developed that could be considered examples of bioregionally based relocalisation. Food and community garden maps are being developed. As Toni Phillips from Collingwood Children’s Farm explained, “everyone is coming up with the same idea at once.”
The Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL Project) has developed the VEIL Melbourne Food Map for this purpose, with an interactive internet site allowing community members to identify local community or market gardens and include them on the map. The Veil Project also published the report ‘Sustainable and Secure Food Systems for Victoria” (2008).
The Community Harvest Project, run by Yarra Valley Permaculture, is a similar project in Melbourne’s neighbouring bioregion. Including community gardens as part of their strategy, another example is the Sustainable Living Project, which is attempting to connect community members across the outer-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Grow Local, based in Melbourne, but wanting to go across the continent, is also attempting to connect food growers in the community by developing a network for harvest sharing, an activity also occurring at a local level across Melbourne.
Established networks like the Australian City Farm and Community Garden Network provide organised opportunities for these local projects to feed into a larger geographical network of garden allies. This crisscrossing of educational references can be extended to global sources, but Melbourne self sufficient gardener networks also offer an example to other urban areas.
Holistic movements represented locally by the likes of Permaculture Melbourne, Seed Savers, Slow Food Victoria and Biological Farmers Association are umbrella organisation that are organised into active groups in a bioregional and local manner.
It is sometimes easier to think of a peri-urban or regional area in term of this concept rather than a large urban city like Melbourne. Increasingly, community projects are attempting to understand and map urban and community based agriculture. Environment Victoria’s Fruit Peddlers project is an example of a local area map that documented fruit trees in the inner suburb Moreland region.
Yarra Community Food Security Network is a significant example of what local councils can contribute, while the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) supports a larger terrain with its Food Security Network.
These local and bioregional networks are testing frameworks that will be necessary to have in place for a cohesive transition toward community supported agriculture, which includes the community tending gardens for self sufficiency in home and community spaces. It also offers a larger support networks for gardens across the region to gain some mutual support, and to match increasing numbers of interested people with the work needed to maintain and preserve these gardens, an issue also identified in this research.