Staring bleakly at an empty cupboard, my beloved hollers: “There’s nothing to eat here. Do you wanna go out?”
I desperately wanted to go out. Brisbane’s best Thai restaurant is just down the road. But then I thought about how long I’d have to work to pay for the meal (not to mention how many footsteps it would take me to work it off). “Let’s check the garden,” I say.
During the past nine months, I have planted four vegetable gardens around Brisbane, in the backyards of friends kind enough to let me visit once a week to mulch and pick my lunch. They reap the rewards too, of course. And I have discovered Brisbane has a sophisticated network of backyard farmers, willing to give away their excess greens in the hope that one day, your garden will have too much of something they want.
In a city where suburban block size outstrips the rest of the country and the cost of living is higher than New York, more Brisbane people are putting down roots they can eat.
Isabell Shipard, the author of How Can I Be Prepared With Self-Sufficiency and Survival Foods, says Australians should be prepared for a future where natural disasters and the cost of petrol will make buying vegetables prohibitively expensive.
“We need to encourage one another to be as self-sufficient as possible, now, in our gardens,” she wrote in a report for the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. “This is the most nutritious fresh food and is the cheapest way to live in these times of rising prices. Australia has truly been a ‘lucky country’, with plentiful food…comfort and luxuries. We truly are blessed. However, it may not always be this way.”
Meanwhile, those who cannot grow their own are considering their health and food mileage, fueling a 70 per cent annual increase in certified Australian organic farmers.
Anyone who has been to a farmer’s market in Brisbane this year can attest to the back-to-basics approach supporting a thriving craft industry. A Craft Australia survey of microenterprises last year found 20 per cent were earning more than $90,000 a year, with innovative practices like “pop-up shops” driving interest.
Industry think tank Australian Craft and Design Centres says Australia is at the forefront of environmentally-friendly innovation. “Australian craft and design practitioners are equipped to spearhead a revolution in energy and resource efficiency, in essence retooling for the future to meet the challenges of climate change,” it claims in a report to the Federal Government.