What’s so special about local farms and local produce? Why bother when you can buy everything at the supermarket?
Whether it is climate change, fossil fuels, peak oil or another of the global impacts on our food and water, the industrialised food system is dependent on the transportation of cheap global commodities. This is open to huge shocks that limit our ability to be self-sufficient and have enough food and water should push come to shove.
A more localised approach to food production shelters us from such shocks.
Remember the family farm? When every backyard had chooks, grew veggies and slaughtered their own meat. You can still do that today, but who has the time?
“Obviously, if you have the time, growing your own chickens for eggs or meat, having a vegetable garden and perhaps a few fruit trees may be the best way to secure at least some of your own future food, but for others we must depend on farmers around us,” says Colin McLean, President Southern Harvest Association.
Added Bronwyn Richards: “prior to the introduction of chemical fertilizers, leading to large-scale broad acre farming, most food was produced locally and most people participated in some way in its production.”
The Bungendore Harvest Festival, 28 – 30 April, celebrates local food, fibre and farming and features a number of local farms from across the region.
Richards and her partner are farming on the village scale. Wynlen House is a micro farming enterprise on just under 1.5 acres in Braidwood. It is an organic four-season, cool climate, slow food farm selling produce (vegetables and meat) all year to consumers.
The industrialisation of farming means that most local food produced ends up being sent to larger cities for centralisation and comes back to us through Coles and Woolworths.
Greenhill Farm, owned and run by the Oliver family is an exception. Set on 1,100 acres near Bungendore, Greenhill Farm grows grass-fed beef and a range of vegetables.
“We started selling our beef direct to our customers in 2007. We were sick and tired of selling beautiful organic cattle to feedlots where they were treated with a systemic worm medicine, vaccinated, hormone implanted and given medicated grain and hay. We were at the mercy of a handful of buyers and had little control over the price. All our good work seemed wasted, and we could hardly even pay the bills,” says Sue Armstrong.
Today their produce is available at EPIC Market every Saturday morning and monthly at the Southern Harvest Farmers Market in Bungendore. Greenhill Farm is fully certified organic/biodynamic (Demeter).
The Southern Harvest Association is helping to revitalise our local food economy through education, access to markets and growing the number of producers. The existence of local food establishments such as Food Lovers Market in Bungendore, Provisions Grocery and Deli in Braidwood and Farmers Markets including the Southern Harvest Farmers Market in Bungendore are important.
Another local producer is Tweenhills Chestnuts. Fresh chestnuts are available from April to June. This family-operated chestnut orchard at Hoskinstown was established in 1997 and has 1,200 grafted trees on 10 hectares. Chestnuts are harvested, washed, cooled, inspected, and graded into sizes on-farm, using state of the art equipment.
Our region, within close proximity to Canberra, is ideal for small-scale farming, with larger hobby blocks of 100 acres providing enough room to explore both horticulture and larger animals. Whether you choose to grow seasonally or explore alternative options for farm income, a productive farm is certainly within reach
Tourism is another aspect of small farms. For example, providing a country lifestyle experience, Mona Farm is a gracious luxury estate located in Braidwood. Currently a working equestrian farm, it also offers five star service, for anyone who is looking for somewhere extraordinary for a wedding, corporate event or private retreat.
Find out more about local food and farming at the Bungendore Harvest.