In the late 1970s in Australia, backyard or urban farming started to decline. People stopped keeping chickens, many times because of noise complaints and also because local council laws began changing around Australia. Supermarkets increased their range and availability of produce year round, making it more convenient for people to shop for their food instead of growing it. Families got busy. Life sped up. The focus changed to fast, easy consumption and away from sustainability. A generation focused on growing and producing their own food aged and died, and many traditional skills, such as food growing, chicken keeping, preserving and composting suddenly seemed archaic and hippy.
Statistics show that in 1960, around 92% of Aussie homes had backyard edible gardens and kept a few chooks, including roosters. Noise complaints about roosters crowing at 4am were very rare. Neighbours routinely swapped produce, information and stories. It was a simpler, and perhaps much healthier, happier time. Those of us old enough to remember those days, and still in love with growing our own food, keeping a few chooks and maintaining good relationships with our neighbours, would love to see a return of those days, and certainly there are some lucky people who have maintained or achieved that where they live now.
There is hope, though!
There’s a quiet revolution and revival growing in pace and popularity throughout Australia and many developed countries around the world. More people are waking up to the fact that those responsible for producing and safeguarding the food and produce we consume have long been taking shortcuts when it comes to our health and wellbeing, and the safety, care and respect for our planet. Big powerful corporations have slowly gained control over all kinds of food and natural capital, resulting in the exploitation of humans, animals and habitats. But will they take control of our backyards and verges? There is evidence they are trying, with companies like Monsanto trying to stop people seed saving from their own gardens, trying to force the use GMO (genetically modified organisms) and chemical use on our food, and in many ways threatening the survival of natural, ancient food as we know it on Earth.
Whether you subscribe to this or not, or you just want to live a simpler, more sustainable life, growing your own food and caring for your own space, you are part of a revolution – a growing wave of people choosing to take more control and responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, and for the welfare of their planet. The more of us taking up urban farming, which is as ancient as human civilisation, the stronger our collective voice will be if such a voice is needed to combat potential threats to our food systems in the future from multinationals seeking to patent nature and control what goes into our mouths.
Want to do more?
Grow more food! As much as you can, in every space possible. Produce, make, preserve and store more of your own food also. Eat less meat. Shop for commercial produce and products less, and network more in your local and wider community. You are a stronger cog in the wheel of positive change and greater sustainability on the Earth than you realise.