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Once upon a time, when the world stopped, people began to panic about not having enough food (and toilet paper). They began to plant corn and pumpkin at the beginning of the cool season, and to attempt to grow familiar supermarket foods….

The Bello Food Gardening project aims to be a comprehensive accessible written resource of food gardening information for backyard growers in this area, a place inbetween official climate zones. Information is based on the incredible body of oral local knowledge for this unique climate.

This project began as a gift to the community during the unique isolation times of the Coronavirus pandemic from March 2020 as a response to people panicking about their food supply and planting seasonally and climatically inappropriate plants.

The article series will, when completed, cover an entire year in gardening, and other essential food gardening knowledge.

Artistic image of sweetcorn

About

Area map locating the Macksville to Woolgoolga region in NSW, Australia

This project is primarily located on Gumbaynggirr land. It also covers northern parts of Dhanggati land.

 

These lands were stolen. Sovereignty was never ceded.
I do my best to offer love and respect to all their Elders; past, present, and future.

Food gardening advice from experienced locals for growing in the Bellingen area and surrounding lowlands. From the valleys to the sea. From Macksville to Woolgoolga.

Artistic map of Bellingen and surrounding areas

Community food security

This project is focused on building food resilience for our community for any disaster. We’ve been through unprecedented drought and fires, a pandemic and we have regular floods. I think by now we are aware of the real possibility that the trucks could be stopped and supermarkets empty very quickly. We are indebted to the people who keep our local markets filled with fresh produce and as we experienced during lockdown, local food growers were stretched to the max to keep up with demand. If supermarket supply chains really broke down there would not be enough food locally. It is wise to have plenty of home food gardeners to plug the gap, as was the strategy with wartime victory gardens.

Place based

This project is all about our local growing conditions and what’s really suitable. Many of the food plants that thrive here are not the familiar English peas and carrots in a row. As the climate warms, these Mediterranean plants will become even less viable.

Bellingen is a specific humid & wet river valley near the sea, with a subtropical warm season rainfall pattern and, depending on your microclimate, anywhere between a temperate and true subtropical warmth. We often have a high average rainfall. We have varying levels of frost from none to medium. The generic or official information can send you off track. For instance, Bellingen is often classed as Subtropical and using that as your guide would have you following advice more suitable for growing in Brisbane, an entire day’s drive north. 

Huge apologies to those in the shire up the plateau – you’re in a different (much cooler) climate which sustains different plants and really would require a separate guide.

Local knowledge made accessible

As a member of Bellingen Seed Savers for the past 7+ years, I am very aware of how much truly useful information ISN’T out there. The knowledge that currently floats about in the local oral knowledge sharing circles is formidable. And so, while watching people panic-plant entirely inappropriate plants for the area or season or both, I aimed to collate what I’ve gleaned over the years. This grew into gathering the knowledge of other local experts, especially food growing professionals as well as green thumbed back yarders, for the benefit of everyone. All contributors of wisdom are gratefully acknowledged.

A food growing resource

Over time, this will build into a comprehensive information guide to 50 of the most easily-grown, locally appropriate nutritious and tasty food plants for the area. This will be a mix of commonly known plants such as tomato and less familiar ones who are worthwhile to get to know such as tamarillo. The guide will aim to cover a balanced mix of leafy greens, fruiting veg (ie capsicum and beans), starches, and root vegetables, with a small amount of fruit, useful, and, hopefully, indigenous plants.

For each food plant (sometimes plant family) the guide covers when and how to sow, how long to wait to plant out, how long to wait to harvest, the length of the entire growing season and advice from the local experts for growing each plant and pitfalls to watch out for.


Let’s grow food!
Fiona

All the food growing info
is available right here.
Free.

This is a resource for the community.

The food growing articles are always free, here online. Look at the Articles page to search for the plant you want to know about.

Food is a universal right. No one should be locked out of the knowledge they need to grow their own food by financial barriers.

The long term plan is to make all this online information available as a printed book (at cost price) and to distribute these to local libraries as well. The aim is to make this resource as accessible as possible to people in the area.

This project has been created with the intention of being a gift to the community. Sharing knowledge and growing food helps us all. In times of upheaval, cooperation not competition is the way to thrive.

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Supporters

This project has been made possible through the financial support of Bellingen Shire Council via the Bellingen Shire Disaster Recovery and Resilience Grant Program Funding 2020.

This website and at-a-glance planting chart have been made possible thanks to the financial support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation via the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal.

Thanks to OzGreen for auspicing this project.

Thanks to i love bello shire (sadly closed) for publishing and encouraging the beginnings of this project.

i love bello shire logo

Thanks to Bellingen Shire News, News of the Area Coffs Harbour and News of the Area Nambucca Valley for regular publishing of excerpts of the in-depth articles.

This project is included in the Bellingen Shire Community Climate Action Plan (see pages 12, 26 and 27). This plan aims to build community resilience to climate change which is already significantly impacting our region. The plan also seeks to recognise the considerable expertise, experience and commitment of our community in taking climate action. 

Climate Action

OzGREEN ran a series of community engagement workshops in 2021-22 to create a ten year Bellingen Shire Food Resilience Vision and Action Plan. A key theme identified was for community education and the need to increase local knowledge about how to grow healthy and regionally appropriate food and what foods are most suitable for growing for a changing climate. See page 39. This project is working to fill that need.

Food Resilience

Get in touch

The Bello Food Gardening project was conceived and created by artist and backyard-enthusiast-food-gardener Fiona Morgan of WhereFishSing.com
This site is currently maintained by: fi@wherefishsing.com

Fiona Morgan
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