Growing the community

growing the community

SAGE’s Future

What is imagination? What creative energy conjures up dreams and visions? What allows us to envisage new concepts, to explore ideas that do not yet exist in our ordinary reality?

We often relegate imagination to childhood, dismissing it as a waste of time and not a serious rational approach in adult life. But it is the creative power of the mind which is the essence of human evolution and change. Without imagination, great innovations and revolutions would never have happened. Without it, we cannot see beyond the current here and now to a preferred ideal future.

Imagining the future of sustainable agriculture and gardening in the Eurobodalla has been the mechanism for us to develop SAGE’s new strategic plan. We spent many months giving voice and form to our visions for how SAGE can help achieve this future. We have imagined and articulated many innovative enterprises to take SAGE into the next decade to help realise this future.

The SAGE Plan is extensive and more than a website can capture. We encourage you to read the full document.

planting-seeds

The plan is based on visions articulated under each of SAGE’s main pillars.

Sustainable Vision

A sustainable local food economy will be functioning across the Eurobodalla region. Local food availability will be normal and diverse local food businesses will exist. SAGE will be linked to regional, national and international fair food networks. The SAGE community education and events program will continue to evolve and thrive, and will engage a broad cross-section of the community. Farm gate food tours and walking food pilgrimage trails will be operating. A SAGE commercial kitchen will be used for local harvest cooking workshops and catering.

Agriculture Vision

The SAGE Farmers Market will be at an under-cover venue with a minimum of 50 stalls and a successful e-Market. The SAGE market gardens will continue to develop and thrive, with six annual market garden interns at the core of the commercial vegetable growing enterprise. SAGE will continue to “grow the growers” by offering sustainable farming education, support and mentoring for new and established farmers. Many farmers, young and old, locals and newcomers, will be producing a broad and integrated variety of animals, crops and horticultural produce across the region including fruit, nuts, grains, seeds, chooks, meat, honey and fibre, all using regenerative farming practices. A “100 acre farm” will be flourishing as an agricultural cooperative on Moruya river flats – the “harvest fields”.

Gardening Vision

The SAGE Garden in Moruya will continue to develop as a productive, efficient creative inspirational demonstration “home garden” site used widely by the local community. Public and private open spaces across the shire will be used for community food gardens.

Eurobodalla Vision

SAGE will establish a broader cultural reach to a more diverse mix of the local Eurobodalla community. Good interactions will be in place with the shire’s traditional and new farmers. Strong collaborative relationships will be established with local Kooris. There will be greater involvement of community groups, schools, TAFE and local businesses in SAGE enterprises. Youth, unemployed and disabled locals will be assisted to grow and cook their own food. Eurobodalla Shire Council will be positively engaged with various elements of SAGE. The Southeast Harvest Festival will continue to evolve and flourish as SAGE’s flagship event.

Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla (SAGE) is a not-for-profit, community based organisation whose mission is to create and support a NSW South Coast sustainable fair food economy and food sovereignty for local communities.

The vision behind SAGE is a reflection of the concern that many local people have about food production in our country. Globalisation, agri-business, widespread use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers, genetically modified species, and domination of food distribution by major supermarkets, all threaten our right to access good, clean, real, fair food.

Established in 2009, SAGE began as an education and demonstration project for sustainable agricultural and horticultural practices. Our intent was to create the opportunity for people in the region to redress the loss of healthy food growing and cooking skills through education in all disciplines of sustainable agriculture and gardening.

SAGE aims for a range of community benefits including:

  • greater community access to good, clean, local, fair food
  • increasing local community food production, preparation and cooking knowledge
  • increasing the number of people growing a significant amount of their own food
  • developing horticultural skills to increase local employment and self-employment
  • “growing the growers” through education for both home and commercial growers
  • enhancing the sense of community in the shire through the growing and use of food
  • providing fresh, healthy local food for those in need in our community
  • increasing local food sovereignty, security, democracy and resilience in our region.
an article from the local press in 2009 | click or tap to enlarge

an article from the local press in 2009 | click or tap to enlarge

Fair Food

SAGE is acting locally to create a local sustainable fair food economy with our local community. Our efforts are part of the national and global food sovereignty movement; the biggest social movement in the world.

Food sovereignty is the right of people to have healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and the right to define our own food and agriculture systems. Food sovereignty gives communities control over the way their food is produced, traded and consumed. It creates food systems designed to help the people and the environment, rather than make profits for multinational corporations.

Fair food is the term used for food sovereignty in Australia. Fair food is about communities taking back control of our food systems, connecting with where our food comes from and who grows it, and creating local food economies that are fair for farmers, consumers and the environment.

SAGE Achievements

The original SAGE Plan was produced in 2009 and outlined SAGE’s initial aims and actions. These and much more have been achieved over the past seven years.

SAGE has:

  • established the SAGE block including the home garden, commercial market garden, orchard, “house”, water, irrigation and solar power
  • trained new growers and increased the number of commercial growers in the region
  • run many events and workshops on growing and using local food
  • developed a national award winning farmers market
  • donated fresh food grown in our garden to local groups
  • built relationships across the community
  • gained recognition as a positive, practical community enterprise.

The Eurobodalla Shire has great potential to continue to evolve as a vibrant, clean and green local food agricultural production region and food tourism destination. We have big visions for the future of SAGE and the local fair food economy.

The SAGE Garden

SAGE’s home is at the eastern end of Queen Street, on the edge of the Moruya township.

The SAGE Garden has come a long way from a block choked with phragmites and blackberries, however there are still some significant infrastructure works in the pipeline, such as netting the orchard and laying extensive paving around the “home garden” to improve accessibility.

This sketch by one of SAGE’s founders, Stuart Whitelaw, captures our vision and also reveals how much has been achieved to those who have visited the site.

Click or tap here to see an overhead image of the SAGE Garden taken in 2015.

The SAGE Garden