St Albans has a unique opportunity to implement a food resilience programme following the quakes but this is being undermined by a lack of willing volunteers, lack of funding and a poor relationship between CCC and the St Albans Residents’ Association (SARA).
This is the finding of a report by University of Canterbury students Sarah Saxon and Ryan Hephburn, as part of their fourth year sustainable urban development course. The report was commissioned by SARA as a foundation for a St Albans Strategy project Community Food Production Project.
“While there is a will to establish food resilience in St Albans it seems likely that anything on a larger-scale will not be feasible for several years until the community, and the city as a whole, has had more time to get back on its feet, ” the writers report in Identify ways in which the St Albans community can increase their local food resilience in an ever increasing urban environment.
“Once this happens and more money is available both at a personal and on a city-wide level, it seems likely that more people would be able to volunteer. If, in this time, SARA is able to mend its relationship with the CCC then the pieces will be in place and St Albans will be able to initiate food resilience programmes on a larger scale.”
The report was based on a series of interviews and a survey carried out earlier this year. You can read the full report on the Geography Department website.
The need for food resilience was brought home by the closure of local supermarkets and unmet demand for fresh food in remaining ones during the quakes of 2011, in particular.
St Albans already has a number of community garden initiatives but these are not sufficient to meet local needs and would need to be scaled up with sufficient funding. These initiatives include:
- Packe St park – on CCC purchased land (from 1996) – not just food
- St Albans Uniting Parish has a garden that feeds approximately 60 people and contributes to the City Mission food pantry
- fruit and vegie co-op
- St Albans Catholic School’s prize winning school garden
- Edgeware Village Green – currently out of action as repairs are carried out to the pipes on site
Community gardens overseas have shown they offer many benefits including:
- lowering the reliance on vulnerable international distribution networks
- providing places for the community to interact
- training opportunities for all ages
- mental health and wellbeing improvements
The report identifies further options for St Albans to consider including:
- reinstating a food market
- turning vacant lots, awaiting rebuild, into temporary food gardens or urban farms
- curbside gardens -requires CCC co-operation
- planting fruit and nut trees (food forests)
- food sharing -sharing surplus food, possibly through facebook or a smartphone app
- green roofs – growing grass on a roof -best on commercial buildings – helps manage stormwater runoff