PA members Northey Street City Farm (NSCF) was founded in 1994 by a group of local residents to grow their own organic food. After negotiation with Brisbane City Council, they were given the use of flood-prone land that was cleared of buildings after the 1974 floods. The Farm has grown steadily over the more than 25 years since then, in land area and in the number of activities, with the history documented in this slideshow
NSCF now lease the 2.5 Ha site in inner -city Windsor, on the banks of Breakfast Creek. From a mostly bare site the Farm is now a green oasis with over 1500 mature trees and shrubs, around 80 raised garden beds, worm farms, chicken runs, bee shed and demonstration plantings. The plantings include a native cabinet timber woodlot, native useful plants windbreak, riverine rainforest, a variety of bamboos, and subtropical and tropical fruit trees. They are also the host and organisers of the Australasian Permaculture Convergence, to be held in Brisbane in April 2021. Thanks to Ronni Martin for providing this insight into Northey Street City Farm.
A month in the life of the ‘farm’
In a typical month we have regular public activities like the Organic Farmer’s Markets every Sunday, City Farm Nursery open every morning except Mondays and informal playgroups and Earth Arts twice a week. Our youth education program consists of school visits, homeschool programs and the Earth Kids program during school holidays. Adult education Sustainable Living Workshops are held most Saturdays, and PDC and other courses on weekends. Four times a year we have an evening event with music and food stalls, including the well-known Winter Solstice Festival. Of course, there are also all the behind the scenes regular activities like maintaining the site, making compost, keeping bees and chooks, and growing food in the forest gardens, allotments and market garden. These activities are reliant on keen volunteers, some of whom have been coming to the Farm regularly for years.
Permaculture ethics and principles core component of the farm
NSCF Cares for the Earth by promoting local food production, restoring native vegetation, green waste recycling and organic practices. We promote local food production by providing demonstration gardens to show various growing techniques; workshops to provide skills for use in people’s own backyard; allotments where people can grow their own; and an Organic Farmers Market to improve access to organic food in urban areas, and to provide a market for farmers. We have an Environment Action Plan which reviews our activities each year and plans further improvements. The goals of the Environment Action Plan include reducing water and resource use, minimising waste, enhancing biodiversity, and using renewable resources. For example, we have rainwater tanks, solar power and hot water systems, and use organic growing methods. We apply Care for People through our participatory organisational structure using consensus decision making. This encourages participation from our volunteers and members as well as our staff. We Share the Surplus by providing shared free lunches three days a week. Excess Farm produce is given away on a ‘share table’. Free events like the Wednesday talks & Earth Arts activities for kids give something back to our community. We try to assist other community groups with advice, a stall at the Markets, or a venue for their events.
Engagement with First Nations Communities and knowledge
In October 2016 a Decolonisation Action Group, made up of volunteers including staff and Management Committee members, was formed at the Farm. The group’s purpose is to build partnerships with First Nations peoples and organisations; to build respect for First Nations culture and understanding of the history of colonisation; and to provide opportunities for First Nations people to learn from our education programs, to be facilitators/ teachers on our education programs, and to gain employment at NSCF.
The DAG organises activities which:
- Acknowledge that we are on Turrbal land
- Mitigate the harm done by colonisation to the land and its people.
- Tell the stories of the history of this place and people.
- Support engagement with First Nations people.
- Create a space to hear First Nations stories.
- Create a culturally safe place.
- Employ First Nations people to show we value diversity, acknowledge inequity and to learn from and value their knowledge and skills.
- Explore the links between Permaculture and First Nations knowledge and culture.
Host and vision for 2021 APC
NSCF has an organisational Goal of ‘fostering the growth of the Permaculture movement’ and hosting the APC is an ideal way to work towards that. It is also a great way for us to contact other permaculture practitioners in the region and to raise our profile nationally. When we developed our proposal to host the APC back in 2018, we were confident that we had the skills and experience to put on an event like the APC – no -one predicted the difficulties involved with a global pandemic!
“Our vision for the APC is that it will be thought-provoking, educational, and fun. We have allowed free time each afternoon and social activities in the evenings so that participants can meet new people and catch up with friends. We’ve tried to balance the program to include Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share topics so there should be something to interest everyone each day.“
One of my personal highlights will be attending workshops on topics I know very little about and stretching my mind a bit. I am looking forward to the keynote speakers as well, as each is covering a very different topic from their different background and experience. As a member of the Permafund Committee, I’m also looking forward to ‘our’ workshop as well as learning more about permaculture in very different contexts in some of the other workshops. And on the local front, learning about how people have implemented permaculture in different parts of the country is also fascinating. A final highlight for me at the APC’s is always the chats at mealtimes or around the campfire in the evenings.
Ticket sales for APC close on 1st April 2021
We encourage everyone to join us at the APC and to buy their tickets soon. We will be closing ticket sales on 1 April to give the caterers time to prepare. We will be operating under a COVID-safe plan at the APC, which means that we have to cap the numbers at 200 overnight guests, and take other social distancing measures. However, this will be easy on the site which has lots of outdoor seating areas and 200ha to spread out in. In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the APC due to government restrictions we will offer full refunds. Purchase your tickets here (and PA members get a great discount too).