Category Archives: Transition and permaculture

Upskilling for resilience

Donnie Maclurcan of the Post Growth Institute muses on the learning we need in building resilient communities – and rightly emphasizes collective knowledge:

Voids in our individual skill-sets are actually critical to building harmonious communities. As Bill Kauth and Zoe Alawan say, “We need each other, and we need to need each other”. Caroline Woolard of the New York City barter platform OurGoods elucidates this concept in sharing that, “When you take a class in a barter system you know the teacher needs you too”.
Thus, I recently found myself wondering, what range of skills might we collectively need in order to thrive in post growth futures?
…there is a great deal to be gained from more of our learning happening together, building shared resilience in the process.

He also makes a good first pass at mapping the skills we could be learning as a community, to build resilience. See Upskilling for Post Growth Futures, Together

The Benchmarking Harvests project

We think there’s an urban food production industry waiting to be recognised.John McKenzie

St0rmz' tomatoes

Harvest of tomatoes, cc-by-sa 2.0.

Want to see abundant quality food harvested in our neighborhoods? Good news on that front:  Growstuff and Permaculture Melbourne are developing a tool to record and share our harvests, and to show how much food is being grown in urban and suburban gardens. It’s now live.

John McKenzie from Permaculture Melbourne lays out the vision:

We want to find what the best gardeners can produce on their plots of land. This becomes a benchmark for their area. The benchmarking project is hoping to indicate the power of urban gardening. If 20% of households could grow at the benchmark rate, then how much food could an urban community produce? We think it’s a huge amount. We think there’s an urban food production industry waiting to be recognised.

The aggregated data will tell us about the capacity of our communities to feed ourselves, broken down by area and crop type. This is the first time data has been collected and made available in this way – a milestone for urban food growing and urban resilience.

Growstuff is the platform – an open source, collaborative, community-oriented gardening site and social network. They’re building a database of crops, harvests, planting advice, seed sources, and more, that anyone can use for free for any purpose under a Creative Commons license. (If you can handle more adjectives, it’s also open data, with an API, independent, ad-free and operated as a social business.)

Growstuff is headed up by ex-Google coder and food grower, Alex Bayley. I’ve doing pair programming on the harvest tool with Alex, and learning much – her coding skills are so far ahead of mine that I’m pretty much watching her code, but that’s the collaborative and inclusive approach of Growstuff. I can vouch for Alex, who could be earning big money in the tech industry, but is instead following what she believes in, and does much of her coding at a kitchen table, looking out on a vegetable garden.

Be part of Benchmarking Harvests

So, food growers and supporters, here’s how to get behind Benchmarking Harvests:

Boosting local food and resilient communities

Think how motivating it will be to know that gardeners are producing not just a few tomatoes, but hampers and buckets full of delicious, fresh food, in our own neighborhoods. This will be a real boost to urban food growing and local resilience, to have this knowledge and data about local food production – for our own knowledge, for our communities, and in our dealings with our local governments. Knowing what successful gardeners can produce on their own land and mapping this by area, we can discover the potential of urban gardening.

Thank you to Lucas Gonzalez from the Appropedia community, who connected us up via Twitter – the spark that let this synergy happen.

Update: Alex Bayley describes the new functionality at Track your harvests with Growstuff.