Part of the purpose of Transition Darebin is to provide people with not only information about how to live a lower energy, more local and more resilient life but also to give people an opportunity to try it out. So imagine our glee when we found out that our friends at the Friends of the Earth were running a campaign to get people to make 5 pledges for a week and in doing so reduce their environmental impact to 50% (of the average). Some of these are really straightforward and would make for seriously dull reading (I think I would struggle to go in to depth about how 2 minute showers might work!) but some of them are a little more complicated (to find out all about the pledges check out The Green Pledge) and so we thought we’d help by giving some ideas around a couple of them.
Zero Waste Week
One of the ones that we’ve had more questions about is making no rubbish. There is the rubbish that is organic like food waste, peelings and leftovers. This makes up about half of all domestic rubbish in Darebin, which is a huge amount! There are a whole bunch of ways to deal with this and at the same time keep the nutrients that you’ve brought on to your site on your site to feed plants (or maybe even a local compost hub!). If you’ve got very little space then maybe a bokashi bucket is the way forward (http://www.bokashi.com.au). If you’ve got a bit more space then maybe a worm farm or if you have the space then nothing beats a composting system.
The other part of the challenge often comes down to wrapping and packaging. We waste a huge amount of resources on wrapping food that you are almost certainly going to wash and most likely going to cook anyway. Sure there are ways to recycle a lot of this but this is just making a bad situation slightly less bad. The better choice is to think about where you buy things from because, with a little bit of planning, you can reduce this to almost nothing and might even find you enjoy your shopping more. Don’t believe me, well here’s a blog from a Thornbury family who did just that as they went for a year without using oil that they called a ‘year of treading lightly’ (www.treadinglightlyblog.com)
What Shopping Centres Should Be!
A strange realisation hit just recently.
Yes I know it’s not that great a realisation! In fact as realisations go it’s pretty bloody ordinary since November happens in a fairly predictable manner every year. What is a special though is that in October 2012 we started doing what we called “a year of treading lightly’. We thought a year was a nice bordered amount that we would struggle through but be able to reassure ourselves that it would end as we battled to live oil free and local. So the realisation is that the year has come and gone and we didn’t even notice.
Why? Well because we thought it was going to be a really big shock. We thought it was going to be all about going without and, to a certain extent, about loss. But at the end of the day (and in this case the year) every change we have made has had more positives than it has had negatives.
I’m going to start at shopping since it’s one of those routine things that everyone does. Our aim is to shop local, sourcing food from within 100miles of where we live and use no plastics either as product or packaging.
So how do we do that? We get most of our greens from our garden as well as vegetables and some fruit from the fruit trees that are becoming established (we had our first oranges this year). We also exchange some things with neighbours, this year in particular it has been passata for eggs from a friend down the street. Our milk comes from a farmers cooperative and is delivered to our door. We get bulk food and cooking oil in old flour sacks and re-usable bottles that we take with us from Naturally on High in Thornbury, Friends of the Earth in Collingwood or Ceres farm in East Brunswick. Ceres in particular is great in that you can work out where things are from. Most of this comes from Victoria and within our boundary. Coffee is pretty much the one thing that we get from out of Australia, though I do stop at Eureka Coffee in Nth. Fitzroy when I can to buy a pack of Queenslands finest. Any coffee we do buy is organic and fair trade. None of these places mind filling up the vessels that we bring.
“That’s all well and good” I hear you say “but I don’t have the time and need the convenience of a supermarket where I can get everything at the one space!”. Well that’s possibly true but just compare what typical shopping day is like.
It started out like any other friday. It’s the only day that the kids are both at home so they spend the first couple of hours playing quite happily. That runs out at about 9:30 and so we go shopping, well actually that’s not quite true because first, and this is really important, we get our vessels ready. By the time we’re ready to go this looks something like this.
The two shops that we do most of our shopping from are close by so it’s helmets bikes and convoy style (incidentally how do you like the yarn bombing that appeared on street signs down a couple of weeks ago?).
For the most part our shopping centre looks like this and what we buy is defined by how far away it comes from. If the number is under 160 then it’s in and we’ll work out how to cook it later. We also get our bread from here or from our local sourdough baker who uses flour that I will admit is a just out of our zone but not by much. We did start baking our own bread with the help of a second hand breadmaker but this exploded. We will get back to it but there is so much good bread around it’s hard to feel a pressing need. Our shopping centre is so advanced it’s even got a playground, we call it a tree!
We get cheese made locally and wrapped in wax from our local market, meat from local producers and often organic from our butcher (straight into tupperware containers) and our fish from our local fishmonger also into our own containers. This did take a while to sort as the lady struggled to zero the scales and so got all flustered, she then developed the habit of using a plastic bag to transfer the fish from the cabinet into our tupperware but we worked through it and she’s okay with it now. Any ham or smoked meat that we buy is from a local shop that has been smoking and curing their own meats for a long time.
Our cleaning (and hygiene products) are bought from either CERES or the Enviro Shop in Northcote and are all non petroleum based and decantered into re-usable containers. Our washing powder is likewise non-oil based but comes in a cardboard box. Toilet paper comes from Naturally on high is recycled and wrapped in paper (though becoming harder to find). At the end of the day it looks something like this, though obviously we go through more than this in a week but you get the idea.
When we do go to a big supermarket its for some sauces or ironically tinned Australian tomatoes, though this is only once every 3-4 month and with our passata connection we have pretty much stopped this altogether. It does confuse me why it’s so hard to get local tinned tommies though. Now I know that we live in a pretty well resources area and, as Nikki points out, you don’t have to travel more than 30 km from us to find yourself in a fresh-food desert. But there are many other ways to do much the same as we are. Box schemes, community supported agriculture, co-ops, farmers markets, organic stores etc. are popping up everywhere and if they’re not then start one. There are networks around that will help you do it and it’s a great way to become more connected to your food and build community as well, but you might find you just made a new, local job opportunity.
Now I should add that the above describes the vast majority of our shopping but sometimes things go wrong or just become too much. So if we suddenly have to head to a barbecue then we’ll stop where we have to and potentially come out with some plastic wrapped meat rather than turn up empty handed but morally righteous. We buy nuts from outside our area and rice too but we will try to avoid it.
And we’ve also had a couple of slips as Nikki points out “when the year ended we finally bought couscous, wrapped in plastic, from somewhere really far away. After a disastrous pastry making attempt we have also been seen buying puff pastry to make pies. And for the rare supermarket visit we have become experts at scanning the labels on products and when we do go to Coles, with two kids we are in and out in under 15minutes since items come from a quite short list, including Great Ocean Rd Cheese, toilet paper, Sodium Bicarb, sliced bread, and biodegradable washing gloves.” To make a long story short our life is coles and plastic free but on the odd time that we slip we don’t beat ourselves up, this is about progress not being perfect.
So that’s how we do it, I’m sure I’ve missed lots but you get the idea. It probably sounds like a lot of hard work and in all honesty without any preparation and working out where we could get things we would have struggled. But the missing thing in this description is that this routine, whilst not being ‘convenient’ is engaging. The kids help us count the carrots and laugh at my dad jokes about what vegetable that is or isn’t. Pip sits on the counter and we both chat to Ella behind the counter about recipes, gardens and how things are going. When we go to CERES on Friday, Felix takes great joy in grabbing the glass jar and heading in to the shop without me to help the lady refill it with honey, whilst Pip climbs the olive trees and we chat with Esther at the counter about grapes and food miles. We then ride away munching on local olive bread and organic apples.
So is it more complicated, sure but do we know where our food comes from absolutely. Do we know who we’re buying it from, equally yes. Does our family benefit from the relationships that we make by engaging with shop-keepers and food (not to mention the occasional dried fruit or slice of cabana), completely. Are we constantly bombarded with advertising, junk food and jingles reminding us how fresh the food is and would we go back to the brightly lit sterile duopoly of Coles or Woolworths to buy cling wrapped everything from a largely disinterested checkout person or worse still a self checkout computer? Not a chance!
There’s loads going on around Transition Darebin at the moment. We had a fantastic Transition in the Pub in collaboration with Friends of the Earth and already the next one, (26th of August) where we are going to talk all things home-brewing, is looking like it’s going to be a corker! The food swaps have been going from strength to strength with a great crew of volunteers and participants and an ever expanding array of food, seeds, know-how and great community engagement. The fruit squad has just passed it’s third tonne of food collected and Our Apple Tree is coming out of it’s winter hibernation to get ready for another season of workshops and ‘tree-bees’. Even the convivial kitchen and Croxton Commons are starting to get some momentum towards a huge year. And that’s just the start, there are cycle events, fun-raising, Permaculture Inner North, Fix-it Newlands and even talk of a ‘Transition Convergence’ with neighbouring Transition Towns on the cards.
But have you ever wondered how this stuff all gets organised! Well Transition Darebin has a co-ordination group. This group doesn’t run all the different groups and activities but aims to coordinate the actions so that it’s easier for people to bring about initiatives and powerful change in their local area.This is an incorporated group so can apply for grants and financial support but it also provides a knowledge and support resource to those who have seen a need and think that they can fill it. Along with this we coordinate liaison with other local groups and councils, publicity and media and a whole lot more (you can check out the different roles that make up this groups at coordination roles).
This is a non-hierarchical group that meets once a month. It’s an open meeting (as most everything is in Transition Darebin) and welcomes people who are looking to really get active in helping to make a more localised, resilient and low energy Darebin. Our meetings run from 7:30 – 9:30 and are always listed on both the Facebook page and the google calender on the website. We have a couple of roles still vacant so if you have been watching TD for a while and would like to suggest an initiative, take a role or just get more active in making it all happen then get along to the next Transition Darebin Coordination Group meeting and let’s make it happen.
Did you know that Darebin council has an Urban Food Production Strategy Implementation Plan.
This plan was adopted by council in May and outlines a four year vision of how urban food production will be supported by council including community gardens, home grown food and other urban food models. Transition Darebin has been involved in providing feedback in the past and have again been invited to provide input on this plan’s implementation particularly the 2015/16 priority actions. They want to hear from inspirational community members who are involved in UFP projects and initiatives in Darebin.
So if you have an interest in a local food production or have some ideas on how it can roll out efficiently through Darebin or just want to network with other community members who are passionate about building a more sustainable food future then please join us in the Function Room, Council Offices, 350 High Street Preston, on Thursday 13th August from 5:30 – 7:30pm.
RSVP’s are required by Monday 10th August. RSPV to Lee Tozzi (Lee.Tozzi@darebin.vic.gov.au) or by phone on 84708392
Ever had that conversation about wanting to do something really significant but not knowing where to start? Well if so, then this months Transition in the Pub is for you. We’re teaming up with the Friends of the Earth to present a night of music and fun as we present the Green Pledge. Imagine a ‘gateway’ experience where you get to choose five easy to achieve steps and do them for a week in September to reduce your personal emissions to 50% of the average. Well that’s what the green pledge is all about.
We’re sending the call-out far and wide so that we can get a whole heap of people across Darebin from all walks of life committing to take some personal actions to decrease their impact. And because we’re doing it together there will be information, links and ideas so that we can celebrate the successes, talk about the challenges and generally help each other have some fun making our life that little bit more sustainable.
We’ll also be putting on an end of event part in Thornbury to try and help you take your green pledges from a week to a habit!
This is definitely an event not to be missed, so grab your friends, family, neighbours and workmates and make sure you get down to the Wesley Anne on Wednesday the 29th of July.
For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/events/957616027612817/
Transition in the pub is all about getting together over a brew to have the discussions that matter. This is a no commitment, no cost session designed to appeal to hard core transition types and those who would rather just check it out from a distance. This month we’re delving into the world of permaculture with two amazing ladies from local group Permaculture Inner North. These guys have done some great stuff and built up a great bunch of permaculture enthusiasts looking to build and share their skills.
In this session Sarah Gorman and Kate Pospisil will be asking the question of whether permaculture could offer us the design ‘glue’ to stick a post peak settlement together. It promises to be a great night so come join us at The Thornbury Local from 8pm to talk Permaculture ethics and principles and how they underpin Transition Towns.
We’ll be there from 7:30 and the session starts at 8. There is good local beer and cheap (and yummy) pizzas on offer so even if all you fancy is a social beer then check it out this Wednesday (24th June) at the Thornbury Local (635 high street northcote)
for more information check out the events page at http://www.transitiondarebin.org
This Saturday 13th June come to the food swap from 11 am to 12 noon at 251 High St Northcote (garden of Uniting Church). Meet like minded people and swap/share vegetables, fruit, flowers, seeds, seedlings, jams, chutney, sauces, handmade soaps etc.
If you have no garden produce to share, then you can bring something you baked to share. It’s about building community as much as sharing produce.
This food swap happens monthly on the second Saturday.
Dear Transitioners, The Convivial Kitchen is an initiative that brings people together to learn new cooking, preparing and preserving skills in a fun and collaborative environment. We have been meeting to discuss our favorite recipes to share with like-minded folk who are interested in learning to cook healthy, seasonal, delicious, low-cost food. Beginning this month we will offer monthly cooking sessions where you come along and learn a new recipe, make the food together and then eat it. We will also make time to share little food tips. At this first class we will learn 2 pizza dough recipes and how to make your own pesto while we still have a few bunches of basil growing in our garden. Yum! First Session: Saturday May 30th At DIVRS* kitchen 2-4pm Cost $10 If you would like to get involved, or do a cooking demonstration and share the recipe, please RSVP to Tiffany on 0490 373 906 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Check out the flyer below for further details. We’d love you to come and join us. Regards, Melina, Tiffany and Rachel (Convivial Kitchen organising team)
For flyer click here Convivial Kitchen Flyer
Do you miss summer already? Well this weekend is your chance to take one more bite of summer goodness with our third and final berry frenzy. The blackberries and blueberries are gone but there are still loads of luscious strawberries ready for eating, or jamming or just sitting back and admiring. We’ll be heading up this Saturday to make sure we don’t miss out.
When: Saturday 28th March
Where: Blue Hills Berries,
27 Parker Road, Silvan VIC 3795
When: 9:00 – about 12:00
Cost: Dependent on what you pick!
For more information or if you have any questions then let us know at email@example.com.
Transition Darebin Food Swap
The second Saturday of the month is coming up which means it’s time for our monthly food swap. At this time of year in particular it’s a great opportunity to share what you’ve got lots of, get what you don’t have any of or just link up with people who are into growing, eating and sharing. There’s always a wealth of fruits, roots, seeds, seedlings, cuttings, ideas, techniques, observations, plus recipes and crafts to utilise what we grow. All welcome, so tell all your friends and neighbours and come down even if you don’t have anything to contribute.
Where: In front of Chalice
251 High Street Northcote
When: 11:00 – 12:00
Cost: Cash economy…hah!… that’s not the way we food swappers roll!
As usual if you want more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the TD Facebook page
Super Sunday; Not one event but two !
There’s so much going on in Darebin we’re actually running out of days so Sunday 12th April is going to be host to not one event, but two.
Our Apple Tree: Compost Special
We kick off at Our Apple Tree with a special workshop around waste and compost. We all know that we can’t keep polluting our beautiful planet but lets be honest most of us could be better at not only reducing but also making better use of the waste we do produce. So this session will look at reducing our household waste stream but also look at how we can use a variety of approaches such as composting, bokashi buckets and worm farming to make better use of the waste that we do make. We’ll also be putting our construction skills to the test by making a community compost hub.
When: Sunday 12th April
Where: Our Apple Tree, Cnr Herbert Street and Beavers Road
When:10 am – 1pm
For more information or to register your interest to go Our Apple Tree Herbert Street on facebook or email email@example.com
The Croxton Sizzle
The Croxton Commons is moving! The Croxton Commons is a community project, supported by Transition Darebin, based on the land surrounding the Croxton Railway station. What will it be? Well that depends on the community, but we hope to develop a vibrant area where fruit and nut tree’s abound, social and community events are promoted by design and the community can come together to grow, learn and share. We kicked off with a Clean Up Australia Day event and pancake fest (made with locally sourced ingredients) and now we’re taking it to the next level with the first Croxton Sizzle. This is a community picnic. There’s nothing to buy, nothing to sign and not even a feedback form! It’s just an opportunity to come together as a community for some food, some play (an a playground for the kids) and maybe even a spot of tennis. This is going to be an exciting space with lots of transition potential so pack a picnic (or bring something for the barbecue) and come down.
When: Sunday 12th April
Where: Spencer Reserve, Spencer Street Northcote (near the tennis courts and playground)
When: 3pm – 5pm
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any other Transition events that you’d like to publicize or have an idea that you would like Transition Darebin to Support then contact us at email@example.com or come along to the next coordination meeting on monday 20th April (check TD facebook or google group for details)
In 1649, in response to government disharmony and infighting, Gerrard Winstanley and a group of local residents began to plant vegetables in common land on Saint George’s Hill, in Surrey. This coincided with a time when food prices had reached an all time high and the government was showing inability to respond to the needs of the citizenry. Winstanley invited all to “come in and help them, and promise them meat, drink, and clothes” and thus the original diggers were born.
We may not be in the 1600’s but our current situation feels remarkably similar. It is becoming blatantly clear that governments of all stripes are struggling to keep up with both the pace and the scale of the changes that will be required for the future. With peak oil either here or nearby and a rapidly changing climate it is also highly likely that our food systems will be disrupted to at least some extent. Back yard agriculture can take up a great deal of the slack but we need more to grow the things that either can’t be grown in small spaces or are inefficient in a private context.
We need to reclaim the commons!
In times gone by commons were shared public spaces that were held for the public good. Whether it was a place that goats and cows could graze or a grove of nut trees that would be harvested by the whole village, the common filled the gaps of food production and also provided a focal point for the community. The Croxton Common is envisaged as just such a place (though maybe without the cows!). But we know that waiting until such a place is required will make it ten years too late we have to start now! This is why Transition Darebin is mobilising and inviting all residents and citizens of Darebin and beyond to get involved with the Croxton Commons, the development of the land surrounding Croxton Railway station (an coincidently on a hill near St. Georges Road).
But what will it look like?
Exactly what the Croxton Commons becomes will depend on the will and the energy of the people attached to it. But the aim is for it to include urban fruit and nut orchards, community and enterprise spaces, recreation areas and social focused spaces. It will be a truly multi-use space that will aim not to reduce the current amenity of the area but add to it through careful design and inclusive forward planning. It will also make use of the most efficient form of transport (the train line) to promote hubs for food sharing, markets and maybe even tool and skill sharing.
This is a project that has been in the wings for some time but thanks to some help from Victrack and Darebin Council we have finally got to a stage where the real planning and working can begin. That’s why we’re putting out the call for thinkers, designers, doers and coordinators; for permies, horti’s, gardeners, handypeople and local folk; for anyone who wants to chip in and help bring this plan to fruition.
We’re kicking off by teaming up with local community garden Our Apple Tree to have a ‘Clean up Australia Day’ event. We’ll be meeting at Our Apple Tree (corner Herbert Street and Beavers Road) at 10am and then walking (and cleaning) up through the Commons finishing at Spencer Reserve, our first site for a barbecue (12:00-1:00). If you can’t make this event but want to be part of the Croxton Commons Group then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.