Sophie here, I’ve suddenly realised that the year is almost past and I was involved in some noteworthy Transition-inspired events this year that the world ought to know about, but hasn’t yet had the opportunity! Here are some of the things I’ve been up to in the last 6 months:
Recycled craft night: turning old stuff into beautiful new stuff!
In September, I organised this event at the Box Factory Community Centre as part of Adult Learner’s Week. There were five different workshops the punters could get involved in, and a Forgotten Project Graveyard Mega Swap where people could pass on their old projects to new caring owners. The workshops were hour-long and most had around 15 participants.
Joanne and I led a workshop making vintage grocery bags, encouraging people to bring along their old sheets and pillowcases and fabric scraps and turn them into reusable grocery bags. We used the morsbags template for the bags as it is so simple with such clear instructions (plus we were inspired by their concept of ‘sociable guerrilla bagging’ whereby they whip up masses of bags and hand them out for free at supermarkets in Britain!).
There were other workshops on soy wallet-making (turning tetra paks into nifty little wallets and purses), dream-catcher making (using backyard vines and feathers), envelope-making (from old National Geographic magazines), and a session on darning and mending, learning this important but vanishing art!
I’m hoping that the recycled craft scene in Adelaide can keep on growing, and I’m certainly keen to facilitate more of these events, making sure that the Transition tenets of environmental care and thrift remain at the forefront of the handmade movement. If you want any more info on these workshops or want to run something similar but don’t know how, get in touch!
In October, the wonderful Peter Burdon was busy running a Wild Law conference, exploring the cutting-edge legal theory of earth jurisprudence which is taking off in communities around the world. I got involved coordinating the catering, and on the Saturday night of the conference we decided to serve up a bioregional feast whereby every ingredient was sourced from within the bioregion (‘cept for the salt, but there’s so much salinity someone’s sure to make a profit soon…)
Bioregionalism is a really exciting concept that seems so suited to Australia with our large and distinct ecosystems, matched to traditional indigenous territories. According to Urban Ecology Australia, the concept of Bioregionalism originated from the writings of Gary Snyder and Peter Berg in California throughout the 1970s, and stemmed in part from the notion that the growth of socially and ecologically just societies requires a deep understanding of place. It is useful as a cue for figuring out new-old ways of relating to our land and our place.
Many years ago, some friends put on a huge and rather swanky Bioregional Banquet for 100 people – legend tells that the menu included three kinds of soup, some amazing salads, frittata, stuffed capsicums with hand-harvested parklands pine nuts, apple crumble and the best fruit salad ever: fresh figs, jujubes, jelly palm fruit, and cherry guava served with almond cream. I wish I was there…
So we attempted a rather more modest affair with an entree of bioregional antipasto platters made up with local olives, local cheeses, a bioregional dukkah (think Food Forest pistachios, salt, home-dried chilli, home-dried mustard seeds), local Turkish bread, pistachio nuts, and oven-baked cherry tomatoes topped with a rocket pesto made from our backyard rocket, local Pecorino cheese, salt, pistachios, almonds and home garlic.
This was followed by a mushroom nut roast (with stewed mushrooms for the vegans and gluten-frees), a wild greens salad made primarily from weeds and greens growing in our yard – mustard greens, rocket, chicory, nasturtiums and the like, oven-baked potatoes with rosemary, salt and pepper, and a coleslaw with homemade egg mayonnaise.
Dessert consisted of a rhubarb and apple crumble (substituted honey for sugar) with local organic cream.
While we did purchase some value-added local products, we felt that the exercise was essentially about building relationships – with local producers, local independent shops, with neighbours, and with our own gardens and the land. When we can’t grow everything ourselves, that’s where community steps in. So we aim to increase the connections and knowledge so that next time everything is one less step removed.
When we served up dinner we spoke to the guests about where each and every ingredient had come from and why – we were humbled that the guests were so receptive and inspired by the concept, may place inspire everyone’s next meal.
The Unley Tour de Homegrown
Following on from other succesful Friends of the Earth Adelaide-initated community food projects, such as The Urban Orchard (a monthly homegrown fruit, vegetable and seed exchange run at Clarence Park Community Centre), and the Feast of Film (an annual film festival of entertaining films about sustainable food and agriculture), in November we tested a new idea – the Unley Tour de Homegrown.
Joel initially came up with the idea at the Transition Weekend, a Spring bicycle tour of food-producing backyards and community/school gardens in the Unley area. The Tour was aimed at both seasoned gardeners looking for a bit of extra inspiration, as well as those who are thinking about growing food but have yet to make the step. Essentially we wanted to increase the connections between food growers in this community, who knows where that could lead – an Urban Farmer’s Co-op? An Unley City Farm?!
Jeremy organised a tour in the West end of Unley while I tackled the Eastside – there are just so many avid growers! For the initial tour we capped the numbers at 25 to enable the punters to fit inside some of the smaller yards, but decided we didn’t need to cap for the second tour as the more the merrier!
Some of the highlights include the Fruit Forest backyard on Leicester St, with over 40 fruit trees crammed into a suburban block and a self-guided tour map to go with it; Fern Ave Community Garden with the world’s largest silverbeet stalk and sunflower face; and caper bushes in Black Forest – why didn’t I think of that first?!
So, it’s really easy to organise, really fun to do, transferable to any community at any time of the year (but spring or summer perhaps the best), so…how bout organising a Tour de Homegrown in your own patch? Get in touch if you need any advice, help, or eager participants! (I’ll be there)