Thursday, September 10, 2015

A much, much better way

So much of what I read and see around me is about moving to a rural place and growing a new and better life. Tasmania is being covered by people moving here and doing that. This is not the answer, in my opinion. This has all sorts of negative consequences for the people, the land, the air, nature and the planet!

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In France, many hundreds of years ago villages were built with everyone living very close together, houses touching gable to gable, even. In the centre of each village is a market square and totally surrounding every village are the food gardens. Everyone has their own garden, which comes with but is separated from, your house. Beyond the food gardens is the farmland, with animals and crops to sustain the whole village.

1-DSC_0030Narrow alleyways run from the market square to the food gardens and you see families bringing produce to the market on market days, via the alleys. I walked with my hosts from their house to their garden via the alley and it only took 5 minutes.

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We spent the morning working in the garden, chatting to others who were working in their neighbouring gardens. We exchanged news on what was sprouting, what we were picking and varieties they grew as well as swapping some produce, there and then. They even dug up a self-sown cherry tree and handed it to my hosts who promptly planted it on their side of the fence! At lunch time we retreated from the heat to a little hut in the garden, surrounded by a grape-vine covered structure, complete with a table and chairs. We lit a little fire and cooked some things from the garden and ate them with a picnic we had brought. It was idyllic and had stood the test of time for a thousand years.

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BBQ's don't have to be expensive or glamorous

 

 

 

 

 

It is time we took these ancient methods and rethought them for today, in every small town across Australia (and the world). Directly behind the shops in the main street of my town, Cygnet, Tasmania is farmland, hundreds of acres of it. Mostly it has cows on it. Imagine if, instead of so many people living far out away from the town (and having to drive everywhere!), everyone bought a house on a small block, within a few minutes walk of a ring of land around Cygnet. That ring would grow most of the fruit and vegetables for everyone, by everyone. You could use it how you liked but it had to grow food. Imagine the camaraderie, the sharing of knowledge, skills and help and the consequent health of the people  and the end of all that driving!

We would still need our local market gardeners as I for one never successfully grow everything I want to. The farmers who currently own the land would benefit by the perpetual leasing of this land to the town and they would still have all the land beyond the gardens encircling the town.

Imagine if we had a government or council who encouraged such land use and made a future plan for Tasmania along these lines. It is totally crazy to have so many people dotted about, making services expensive to provide, roads over-used, in fact making life so much harder and more stressful than it needs to be. This is a healthier way; for us, our pockets, our minds, the land, the wildlife and the planet.

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