Members Spotlight

One of the most important things to us here at CCF is the people who make up our community.  Every month we will be putting the spotlight on one of our members.

Spotlight – June Newsletter

This month we feature one of our Working Wonders volunteers, Lis Napier. Lis has helped with many and varied tasks around the Farm, including sprucing up the paint work on the shipping container below.

Lis Napier

What drew you to Canberra City Farm initially?
I had just moved back to Canberra after being away for seven years: two in Dubai and five in my home town of Melbourne. When I’d last lived in Canberra, I was working full time for a software company and helping to raise my three stepsons, so had very little spare time for volunteering on a regular basis. So this time around, being retired, I was looking for something where I could meet like-minded people, enjoy the outdoors and get some physical exercise, plus give back to the Community. While in Melbourne I’d been involved two days a week with the local Primary School’s Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden programme, which I’d thoroughly enjoyed, so I was keen to find something “garden related” and local to my suburb of Kingston if possible. After some googling, the Canberra City Farm popped up — it seemed to tick all the boxes! I turned up one cool Monday morning for the infamous John Peters tour of the Garden and was so impressed by all the activities that were going on, plus absolutely loved the history and setting of the place. So now I can ride my bike through the beautiful wetlands and enjoy time with many fabulous people and hopefully contribute something small.

What’s something you enjoy about spending time at Canberra City Farm?

Handiwork by Lis

I absolutely love the wonderful people I have met at the Farm. Everyone has an interesting background, are genuine and down to earth and share a common commitment to giving something back to those who are less fortunate as well as sharing their own knowledge and experience amongst the Farm community. A few hours at the Farm enables you to forget about everything else and enjoy being in the outdoors doing something worthwhile. We also have a good laugh about things, which is something that also makes it a great day out! Every week there is something new that needs to be done, so there’s also the opportunity to learn from others.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a wintry day?
The best thing on a cold, grey Canberra wintry day is to get out, shovel some mulch, weed some beds, or do something nice and physical to keep warm and enjoy the fresh air. Much better than being inside on the couch!

What’s your favourite thing to cook/eat from the garden?
I’ve loved everything I’ve brought home from the CCF! From the ruby red figs, to the bright green silver beet, rustic green, and purple beans — it all seems to taste much better when you know where it has come from and maybe have had some part in its production.

Spotlight – April Newsletter

In April we aimed the spotlight at our dedicated volunteer and champion of the four-bed demo garden, Margaret Bonner.

What drew you to Canberra City Farm initially?I was wandering around Floraide and thought all of these lovely flowers, but where are the vegies… which also flower! Then I came across the CCF stand, and after talking with the people there thought now this is an organisation that I like the ethos of. The rest is history.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a sunny day? What do I do on a sunny day when gardening? Well, it all depends on the season. If it is hot: watering, mulching, and shading plants from the sun. If in winter, then I’m rugged up and sitting outside enjoying the warmth with a cuppa. And in between could really be anything from collecting mulch to starting seedlings. When not gardening, then swimming in the Jervis Bay area.

What’s your favourite thing to cook from the garden? It would have to be pesto from my basil with a tomato, leafy green, garlic, and red onion salad.

What would you like to see in Canberra’s future? While I could talk about this all day, it can be distilled down to this: basically leaders and a community that are inclusive and respectful of all, with opportunities to explore new horizons whatever they might be.

Spotlight – March Newsletter

In March we focussed the spotlight on one of our founding members Keith Colls.

What sparked the idea to create Canberra City Farm? At the time (2010) a few of us were thinking about how we could locally address some of the environmental issues of the time (such as climate change, soil degradation) and the potential consequences that followed, such as insecure water supplies, diminishing food security etc. The underlying problem was that our extractive societies (including our own) were living beyond the capacity of the earth’s ecosystems to respond to humanity’s demands and, as a consequence, those ecosystems upon which we depend (and are an integral part of) were being seriously, and probably, irreparably damaged.

We felt that the best we could do was to create an organisation to promote, facilitate and demonstrate a sustainable way of living where the capacity of the local ecosystem functions which support our local community were not exceeded, that is, we could live in harmony with our local environment into the foreseeable future. This is the fundamental idea which underpins the work of the Canberra City Farm. In essence, it is an educational organisation where we explore and facilitate, through practical hands on experience, how the issues of practical living within the constraints of our local environment can be addressed. The educational and facilitative work of the City Farm has three main components:

  • Exploring the relationship between the local environment and its capacity to produce food, the state of our current food supply and food quality. This is largely addressed through gardening workshops/courses run at the city farm and hands on experience members gain working in the communal gardens at the farm. Other contributions include a large range of talks provided at Floriade and to garden clubs. We have also provided advice to building developers establishing communal gardens in developments. We work closely with other organisations such as Southern Harvest and Regional Development Australia as well as gardening and environmentally related organisations such as the Canberra Organic Growers Society, See-Change, Environment Centre and the Conservation Council.
  • Exploring the energy efficiency of our built environment. Our first building demonstrating energy efficient building design was located at Floriade for a couple of years and then moved to the city farm site at Turner. Our current energy efficient demonstration building is the LESS built by volunteers from See-Change at the current Fyshwick site.
  • Exploring ways to enhance the local food economy through encouraging and supporting “start ups” (and established businesses) which support sustainable living within the constraints of our local environment and contribute to the local environment. Several “start up” businesses related to food and sustainable living are currently supported at the Fyshwick site.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a sunny day? Provided it’s not too hot, I like to sit under the shade of a big tree and do absolutely nothing except watching the birds and insects going about their daily activities in the landscape, listening to the breezes in the leaves, and perhaps having a little nap.

What’s your favourite thing to grow? There is something very satisfying about growing plants from seeds and watching them emerge out of the soil. In the veggie plot, nothing looks better than a nice straight row of carrots.

What would you like to see in Canberra’s future? I would like to see a healthy local food economy based in the Capital region where we produce a significant amount of our own food and fibre, much of it being grown in local market gardens, and supported by a growing locavore tradition developing amongst consumers. I would like to see a well resourced training facility (perhaps based at CIT) for budding farmers to build their regenerative farming skills. I would like to see building codes which ensure we have the most energy efficient buildings as possible to suit our climate. I would like to see zoning rules which protect agricultural land from being used for other purposes and which provide farmers with long term tenure to ensure their investment in soil building is not lost when the land is sold.