The traditional way of life, the ‘Local Living Economy’ – as BALLE founder Judy Wicks would say – was dying. Suffering for a long time from the rising costs of farming and intense competition from supermarkets, farmers now have people travelling to them to pay well for freshly picked fruit and veg.
Now that consumers are aware of food miles and the 100-mile diet, the area has become a booming slow-food, eat-local region.
In the 1980s the Slow Food movement began in Italy as a reaction to a growing Fast Food culture.
Slow food helps people rediscover the joy of eating. Good, clean and fair local products are used and connections with the growers and producers, understanding how the enthusiasm and passion they bring to growing their product translates into the quality of the product, are encouraged.
Twenty years ago Kurrajong Hills orchardist John Maguire, 71, was facing bankruptcy. To save his property he became a leader in direct selling to the public. Now he grows a wide variety of fruits and the cafe and shop at the front of his property are rarely empty.
In the hope of tourism saving the dying urban fringe farms, a group of restaurants, farmers, tour operators and bed and breakfast businesses worked – successsfully – to develop the concept of a Harvest Trail that encouraged Sydneysiders and international tourists to explore this pretty rural region on Sydney’s edge. John says:
“Part of this is…an experience. A lot of young children walk into our place and the experience is pretty well foreign to them. They have no concept of where fruit comes from and what is entailed in growing it..
The eat local phenomenon, backed up by the US 100-mile diet craze and increasing concern about food miles, are more than just an anti-globalisation political statement about supporting individual farmers over corporate chain stores, or even a dilettante’s preference for fruit that has not spent months in cold storage…
Some British supermarkets have taken to labelling the food miles on their products and ‘eat local’ campaigns have become controversial fashion statements in themselves.
Supporters say the diet offers a way for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint and do their bit to save the planet from global warming.”
The urban public has developed an almost spiritual movement to connect with the land but for the farmers, it is about more direct market channels and therefore keeping more of the profits. The Hawkesbury Harvest Trail is about rebuilding the local food economy and networks as it is very difficult for small farms to survive in the current market.
Judy Wicks believes:
“Business is about relationships. Money is simply a tool. Business is about relationships with everyone we buy from and sell to, and work with, and about our relationship with the Earth itself.”
A sustainable global economy as a network of Local Living Economies that build economic empowerment and prosperity in communities through local business ownership, economic justice, cultural diversity and a healthy natural environment. Nillumbik, in Melbourne’s outer northeast, following BALLE principles had established Connecting Nillumbik which links the shires several business group with a view to creating a sustainable and vibrant local business community working cooperatively to promote Nillumbik: the place to shop, work, eat and play…
This is the direction the Manningham-Nillumbik Green Map project is taking…