November 22, 2009 | Ronda Jambe

Sign up for the Green Dragoons

Sydney is planning an urban farm. They haven’t decided where yet, but it will happen. And it will have more than just plants, as not all of us are vegetarian. Like Al Gore, I’ve cut way back on my meat, but for different reasons. Vegetarian spouse and laziness basically.
But let’s talk turkey. Or at least chickens. Of course we need urban farms, complete with poultry. This isn’t just a flash in the pan petting and weeding pen we’re talking about: it is an essentail part of the shift towards a more resilient and self-reliant culture. (Do those two words come from a similar source, like ecology and economics?) In any case we need lots of resilience, and that means lots of Silly Ants, people who pitch in and form the new systems we will need.
The not so silly ants in London, Chicago and Melbourne have set up similar urban farms. Old apartment buildings in the former East Germany have been razed to create 100m by 100m urban food plots, and Cuba has pockets everywhere in the cities, as well as country farms. Even New York now has its HIgh Line, a park built on an abandoned elevated train track, I will make sure I see it next time I’m there. Maybe by then it will be covered in grapevines, lovingly tendered by batallions of Silly Ants. Kept in line, gently, by the Green Dragoons.
They’ll be coming to a suburb near you. Sydney’s urban farm will have community composting facilities. It’s embarassing how happy that makes me. Brown is one of my favourite colours.
hand with dirt.jpg
In Canberra there is a waiting list for all the organic garden plots, but the ACT government hasn’t realised yet that they need an urban farm, something the Greens are hopefully agitating about. There is still an individualist approach, which misses out on the economies of scale that a full cooperative could bring. Don’t they realise there are hordes of Silly Ants out there, who are probably crazy enough to weed other peoples’ gardens. (Remember, all gardeners commit herbicide routinely.)
These troops and their leaders will, of course, form the basis of the new economy. The one that runs on a triple bottom line, and measures it. The new aggregators will keep all the old stuff moving around, via community databases, highly personalised and very affordable transport, and flexible payment arrangements (barter/broker/borrow/build/bank are just some of the possibilities). Moving away from a Thing economy towards a Do economy. More services, calmer inputs, more restructuring, reusing, refusing.
Costa Rica has its feria in many towns, selling all sorts of fresh food and meat. Grown by lots of Silly Ants. They don’t know they are showing us the future, they’re too busy. Even on steep hills, buses there offer cheap travel around the countryside. Other models exist, and if combined with smart business and delivery approaches, well, what would you bet on? Mine is on community entrepreneurs. It’s already happening in Canberra, with groups like SEE-Change.
We are at least taking some small steps. This dual compost bin, for example, delicately constructed by My Man, was probably the first ever in a public service building in Canberra. It lasted a day, not much of a breakthrough, but it had to be installed somewhere else:
doll compost with tank.jpg
It’s been a great week. Even spouse seems to be improving and might come home soon. It was gratifying to hear Kelvin Thompson getting good coverage for mentioning population issues. Tim Flannery has long advised a national look at population, and he’s heading up a new taskforce. And now, an urban farm in Sydney. Maybe Copenhagen will also provide a breakthrough.
Somethings got to give. Even my yard has reached a crisis: our neighbor saw a snake in his yard. I don’t like everything that’s brown. The catchers said they hang around compost. And there I was, crawling barefoot among the thick layers of leaves by the compost near the back fence. Maybe three years of autumn leaves is too many with so little rain to break it down. Help! Call in the Silly Ants!
I’d love to tell you about my composting toilets, things everyone should know to become a Silly Ant, but I think it’s time to shut the door on this rotten topic.
undersink cpompost.jpg

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 12:48 pm | Comments Off on Sign up for the Green Dragoons |
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