North Perth local shining spotlight on “broken” food system and urban gardens

North Perth local Andrea Gaynor is one of the editors of a new book about urban food growing in Australia. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
North Perth local Andrea Gaynor is one of the editors of a new book about urban food growing in Australia. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

A NORTH Perth local is encouraging city-dwellers to take a deeper interest in the food they eat.

Andrea Gaynor, associate professor of history at the University of Western Australia, is one of the editors behind Reclaiming the Urban Commons: The past, present and future of food growing in Australian towns and cities.

Dr Gaynor said she had long been interested in how our food is produced and how it has changed over time.

“Our food system is broken,” she said.

“It is dominated by a handful of highly profitable agri-food corporations, while the health outcomes of the system are very poor, with millions of people either undernourished or obese.”

She said the current system also devoured natural resources and fossil fuel use was contributing to runaway climate change.

“There are farmers who are doing good things, using approaches that repair and regenerate the land while producing nourishing food, but more needs to be done,” she said.

Dr Gaynor’s new book focuses not just on food, but people using food to change the way they relate to, and care for, each other and the earth.

“There really are so many good things going on, from Permablitz to community gardens and city farms, open verge gardens and micro farms,” she said.

“Some of the stories profiled in our book show how food can be grown in small, constrained, unlikely pockets of the city; micro-livestock from bees to quail can be kept in most open settings.”

Dr Gaynor said the future of food growing in towns and cities was all about sharing knowledge and access to spaces.

“With will and imagination, people can come together to do amazing things,” she said.