The Urban Orchard video

The Urban Orchard is a network of households in your local community who are meeting monthly to swap and share the produce of their backyard (or frontyard!) gardens, and conduct workshops on gardening and preserving the harvest.

In November 2007, Friends of the Earth Adelaide and the Goodwood Goodfood Co-op launched a homegrown fruit and vegetable exchange in the inner south-western suburbs of Adelaide. It’s a concept that has been practiced formally and informally in communities probably since time began. The basic format of this particular exchange was inspired by the Urban Orchard project initiated by Melbourne’s CERES community environment park.

The Urban Orchard project was initiated in Adelaide by local community members passionate about gardening, good food and building community.  Through providing a central space for community members to come together and share their homegrown or gleaned surpluses, the exchange offers a number of strong social and environmental benefits, including:

  • reducing waste by redistributing surplus fruit, vegetables, herbs and seeds
  • cultivating networks within the neighbourhood and building stronger communities
  • providing healthy, seasonal food for the community
  • sharing valuable skills in gardening and food preparation
  • avoiding greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for produce
  • transported from outside the local area

The Urban Orchard is currently active:

Communities around Australia are adapting the Urban Orchard concept to meet this unique local needs. A  do-it-yourself guide is available for download.

I can change your mind about… climate

Do you think you can change someone’s mind about climate change?

A new ABC television show  “I Can Change Your Mind About..Climate” seeks to address that question.

The website features a survey you can take to find out your views before the show airs.

I’d like to see them change a sceptic’s mind, but that can be hard work…. perhaps there is a better way?

I like the approach George Marshall from Talking Climate takes in the video above. He asks what the best way of talking to a cli­mate ‘denier’ is, including advice on lan­guage, framing, and a dis­cus­sion of whether ‘denier’ is even the right way of thinking about the problem. From How to talk to a climate change denier.

How resilient are you? survey


Grab some paper and write down your answers to the following questions.

Are you self- and community-sufficient?

  1. I put my savings and investments in community and regional banks and local institutions
  2. I buy or barter the goods and services I need from local merchants, organizations, or individuals.
  3. I make my income from my local economy.
  4. I know how to fix, grow, build, or create things (such as repair a roof, grow kale, give a guitar lesson) that others would want in good times and hard times.
  5. I have an alternative source of livelihood that could sustain me (and my family) if my current source were no longer viable.
  6. I consume locally grown food that I could afford even if prices went up substantially (e.g., from a food co-op, backyard garden).
  7. I know how to preserve food and keep a well stocked pantry.
  8. I have access to sources of water, even when the weather is unpredictable or the tap water doesn’t work (such as a rainwater tank or a reliable well).
  9. I have ways to get around, even if the gas at the pump is unavailable or pricey (such as feet, bike, electric car).
  10. I have alternative heat and energy sources (such as solar panels or a wood stove) if the power goes out or utilities get expensive.
  11. I actively promote the development of renewable energy in my local community.
  12. I have a hopeful vision of what my community and life can look like in a future without fossil fuels.

Do you have a support network?

  1. I have friends and acquaintances in my local community (and I know their faces, not just their Facebook pages).
  2. I am comfortable asking my neighbors if I can borrow stuff (e.g., tools, ingredients).
  3. I could easily call on nearby friends and neighbors for help in an emergency.
  4. I offer support to people in my community when they need help.
  5. I’m active in community groups (like neighborhood associations, potlucks, churches, soup kitchens, gardening clubs, arts organizations, or local political groups).

Do you have sources of personal resilience?

  1. I sing, dance, paint, or otherwise participate in arts or creative work on a regular basis.
  2. I regularly engage in activities that help me stay calm and balanced (such as meditation, exercise, prayer, or spending time in nature).
  3. I take care of my health, such as through regular exercise, a healthy diet, and an appropriate amount of sleep.

Adapted from the How resilient are you online test by YES! Magazine

Could You Live on $20 a Day? Ask Florida’s Tomato Workers

Lupe Gonzalo: Episode 96 of The Perennial Plate from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

Low wages, outrageous workloads: Tomato picker Lupe Gonzalo talks to The Perennial Plate.

You might think of tomatoes merely as supermarket staples, but in Florida, where the majority the nation’s crop is grown, thousands of pickers toil for less than a living wage. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a grassroots farmworkers’ rights organization, is trying to change that by asking supermarket chains and fast-food outlets to sign Fair Food Agreements that would improve conditions for the industry’s workers. Daniel Klein, of The Perennial Plate, spent the day with Lupe Gonzalo, a tomato picker and CIW organizer. Watch her story, then imagine picking 200 full-sized buckets of tomatoes in 105-degree heat.

You’ll never look at a supermarket tomato the same way again.

Transition tip: Deconstruct your consumption habits

This transition tip idea comes from Mark Boyle in his book called The Moneyless Man – a year of freeconomic living.

As part of living without money for a year, he got a notepad and listed every single thing he consumed

“I called this my ‘breaking-it-down’ list. To structure my thoughts, I categorised my list into food, energy, heating, transport, entertainment, lighting, communications, reading, art and so on. The list eventually took up half the notepad – and that was the list of someone who considers himself quite a moderate consumer….

“It became clear, after just a couple of pages, that most of the stuff would involve me having no more than one degree of separation from what I consumed; either I would make it myself or know the person who produced it.”

“My list-making enabled me to establish my basic level of subsistence, the things I really couldn’t do without, and my priorities for the rest.”

The Moneyless Man
– by Mark Boyle

Transition tip: Participate in a clothes swap


Transition tip: Participate in a clothes swap


  • Rehash – a fashionable way for you to trade your clothing, accessories, and books with others online.
  • Swap-O-Rama-Rama is a clothing swap and series of do-it-yourself workshops in which a community explores creative reuse through the recycling of used clothing.
  • Swishing – To rustle clothes from friends



Have you participated in a clothes swap?

Transition tip: Participate in a free gifting system (freecycle)


Transition tip: Participate in a free gifting system

There are a number of free gifting systems around, with Freecycle perhaps the most well known. Using a website or email group you can give away things you no longer need or ask if anyone has something to give away that you’d like.

These schemes promote waste reduction and help save the landscape from being taken over by landfills.




Have you had any experience with a gifting network?

Shipping container houses

The video shows Lulu’s tiny home in California – a recycled shipping container with an attached cargo trailer bedroom.  Lulu is a single mom who had gone back to school and didn’t have the time or interest in working full-time to pay for rent. So when she had to move out of her more conventional home, she decided to move herself and her daughter into a shipping container. The container has been modified with recycled and reclaimed materials.

I love the idea of living in a recycled shipping container. I’d love one for my office.

Would you live in one?


Places to buy shipping containers for accommodation: