I am forever extolling the virtues of the backyard veggie garden and have been heartened by the increase in interest in home grown food over the last decade but I still think there is so much more we can do.
I like to travel by train whether it be in Sydney, in another Australian cities or towns or overseas. Train travel lets you see into the real side of a community – the backyard. Our front yards are often a facade of conformity and societal expectations, whereas we are more our true selves in the confines of our backyard, garden or balcony.
In a recent trip to Europe where I traveled by train around Italy and into Switzerland I was struck by the number of backyards that had some kind food production happening in them. It was nearly all in the cities, and certainly all in the village backyards that I could see from the train window.
In the cities, most of the backyards were tiny, whereas in the outer city areas and villages they ranged from small areas to a hectare. But regardless of size they all had some food producing plants growing in them.
Some the food production units were things of beauty with fruit trees, grape and kiwifruit vines, berries of various kinds and flourishing annual vegetable plots; whilst others were as simple as a 1 m by 2 m rectangle at the back door with a few herbs and leafy greens.
Food production was not limited to just backyards, it spilled out onto street verges, sides of roads, spare railway land and even some railway stations. This was not limited to one country or one community it was consistent wherever I went across the two nations.
These are communities that are contributing to the everyday food needs of their families and others in the communities, many of the smaller villages had produce markets occurring in the town centre.
They are ensuring the food security of their nations.
In my recent train travel around my local area and into Sydney I am not seeing this.
It got me thinking why is local food production not happening more in Australia? Certainly through WWI and II and the Depression every household in Australia had a productive garden, a few fruit trees, the essential backyard lemon tree and backyard chooks. If this hadn’t happened the population would have starved.
The “Growing Your Own” movement has never been stronger in Australia, yet it is still not as prevalent as I have seen in my trip overseas.
Why? And What can we do to change this?
So I am proposing a bit of a straw poll/quick survey to see if I am justified in my accusation that Australians are not participating in Home Grown food production as much as other nations.
So if you are in Australia or another country I would like you to respond to this blog post letting me know how many of your immediate neighbours, say the five or six that you can see from your backyard or balcony, have some kind of food production happening. This could be as simple as a few pots of herbs to a food forest and everything in-between.
I will let you know what the general trend is in my next blog.
In this post are a few of the gardens I saw on my travels, sorry for the quality they were taken from inside a train which was often moving.