Since my January blog of 10 ideas for a more Edible Bendigo in 2015 the interest in all activities food related continues locally: the community is embracing a local food coalition, the Bendigo Regional Food Alliance; a Food Hub is being scoped, with the intent of improving access and affordability to fresh food while supporting local producers; and people are warming to the idea of growing more of their own produce in more places.
Inspired by Incredible Edible Todmorden in the UK, a community initiative that enables the whole Todmorden township to be enthusiastic about growing and campaigning for local food, Bendigo has been formally endorsed as Incredible Edible Bendigo. The focus is on free availability of food mainly, but from the food growing and related activities local community food enterprises can establish and flourish.
Here is an updated version of my 10 ideas for a more Edible Bendigo – a reminder of what is possible when the community is viewed through a food lens:
Contribute to the new Bendigo Regional Food Alliance, supporting local food and urban agriculture policies as they are formulated to ensure your favourite food system ideas and expertise are included
Start a local community food market that champions very local produce – separate from a larger Farmers Market, involving small scale and niche producers and people from the Bendigo community with something edible and homegrown to sell or swap plus bargain boxes of seasonal fruit and veg, maybe with recipes for their use
Work with a community group to start a weekly community lunch using rescued, donated, homegrown and gleaned fresh produce. Check out the Castlemaine Community Lunch
Find out who else shares an idea you have around food production in Bendigo and advocate for change Eg. Why can’t our street trees be citrus trees? Wouldn’t it be great to have community orchards around the city? Have you heard of The Lemon Tree Project? or local ideas for a community food forest garden?
Think about what sort of new ventures could be established that will enhance the food system in our local community? a food hub or a community food centre? Check out the Bendigo Food Hub Feasibility Study and distribution of the Open Food Network and the brilliant Canadian Community Food Centres
Celebrate the diversity of food cultures in Bendigo with an annual event where we can learn food preparation ideas from our diverse citizens such as our Karen Community
Volunteer at the local primary or secondary school to grow fresh produce and share your experience with the students, such as the local Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation program at Eaglehawk Primary School
Invest funds in local community food initiatives and social enterprise startups, large and small, and where possible provide advice, mentoring and support. A new local social enterprise Growing Change has supported is Go and Grow Gardens
Find out about composting to reduce waste going to landfill to create greenhouse gas emissions – 2015 is the International Year of Soils. Let’s have a Composters’ Composium – an event similar to one in Melbourne a couple of years back that was a smash hit. Think about reducing waste in general.