A vacant overgrown plot in Study Street close to Flamingo Square has been earmarked for development as a food forest – the brainchild of Parklands resident Ursula Ostuni.
Ms Ostuni, of Table View Urban Farming Co. (TUFCO), made a presentation at the Greater Table View Action Forum (GTAF) held on Tuesday February 7. Tabletalk caught up with her later in the week when she spoke passionately about urban farming and the advantages of permaculture, which she practises.
The food forest is still in the planning stages and is waiting for the green light from the City. Ward 113 councillor Joy McCarthy told Tabletalk: “I was at the founding meeting of the TUFCO and do enthusiastically support the cause and the idea (of the food forest).”
With 20 000 square metres in the vacant space, Ms Ostuni said: “The food forest is set to benefit the community through a sustainable lifestyle. We are trying to promote both food, shelter and water by what we do.”
The food forest, which has been on the cards for almost two years, is planned on a slope, with the top bordering Janssens Avenue and the bottom of the slope on Study Street.
“This will allow for the successful capturing and storing of water during the rainy months of May through to November,” said Ms Ostuni.
She added: “Its main aim is to ultimately become self-sustainable and efficient. It’s about teaching a man to how to fish, and it’s about creating a wonderful environment.”
Ms Ostuni said many of the community’s children were going to school hungry and she hoped the food forest would change that by reaching out to every one.
“Study Street has had this vacant land for 40 years, and it has caused a lot of upheaval. This area is used for activities you don’t want to know about: vagrancy and drugs,” she said, adding that part of the self-sustainability of the area was to create funds through a raw and organic food cafe and tea room, the sale of plants and, to cut costs by using sandbags for structures and recycled wood for doors and windows.
Ms Ostuni believes permaculture, which mimics the patterns found in natural eco systems, can help us beat the current water crisis.
“In many ways it’s like having a mini-earthworks in your garden – it’s a design system that works in harmony with nature,” she said. “Permaculture can be put to practise in diverse societies such as that in Table View where we can work positively with negative influences to create a certain resilience. We are trying to make this a cohesive society in Table View.
“We are also trying to stop defining the rich and the poor which does not create a very resilient society. If you live in an environment where these two sectors of society mix, it makes you more compassionate… to be exposed to each other’s environments.
“It’s about a mindset of reaching out and getting involved in your society. It is, however, not only about food but about well-being.”
It may all sound like a pipe dream but hopefully the green light will be given soon to make this a reality.
So watch this space…