Monday, May 23, 2011

Canadians visit Our Garden

A Canadian urban agriculture specialist working in community gardening and the retired Commissioner of Planning in Manila visited James Street Reserve Community Garden last week.

Bert Einseidel is a retired professor emeritus who is reinventing himself, as he puts it. Instead of industrial psychology, he now works in urban agriculture with Calgary’s horticultural society although he maintains his academic ties. In Canada, his work involves assisting community gardens to get going and manage themselves. The number of community gardens, Bert explained, has grown from seven when he started five years ago to over 100 today. Bert also works with a new food security council in the province.

Nathaniel von Einseidel is Bert’s brother. He makes his home and livelihood in Manila, in the Phillipines, where he has a private practice in planning. With a backround in architecture, Nathaniel is the retired Commissioner of Planning for the city. One of his interests is in climate change and coastal centres, and how initiatives to deal with this can engage communities.

The brothers met up in Australia, where they visited Melbourne and Brisbane as well as Sydney to undertake a study tour of community gardens and sustainability initiatives. In Sydney, they were interested in learning more about the proposed Sydney City Farm and to see some of the city’s community gardens, which is what brought them, after visiting Newtown Community Garden and Chippendale’s Sustainable Streets-Sustainable Communities Demonstration Project where they walked the street verge gardens with their young citrus trees and other plants, to the James Street Community Garden then on to the Randwick Sustainability Hub. At James Street, they spent their time there looking at the plants and learning about the proposed stage two development planned for the garden, while at the Randwick establishment they were taken on a guided tour of the community centre, retrofitted for energy and water efficiency, and the Permaculture Interpretive Garden. Bert remarked on the James Street garden's corrugated iron garden planters and said how they reminded him of a rooftop garden he has seen.

The brothers left Australia with heads full of good ideas and, perhaps, the impression that the weather really is better in Sydney than in Melbourne where the city turned on its finest Autumn fare of overcast skies, rain and cold.

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