I went along to this fair with a few priorities in mind:
1. Find out more about growing food in the back yard and/or community gardens
2. Ask about distribution schemes for locally-grown produce
3. Try to make contact with people who live nearby and are focused on sustainable living
4. Maybe clarify the Greens' position on alternative nuclear energy technologies (there are some which don't produce waste that lasts for thousands of years and are almost useless for making weapons... but you don't hear about them much)
Amazingly enough, I scored four out of four.
I met some very nice and enthusiastic people from Permaculture Caboolture (not sure whether they're technically a club, society or what) who have heaps of information to share about growing food and who know heaps of other people to link up with to promote food gardening at home or in community gardens or in school programs. I'll be following up on a number of the suggestions I received and will be sure to note them here online.
There's apparently a meeting somewhere in Brisbane this coming week regarding a program which teaches organic gardening and food preparation to primary school children as part of their routine curriculum. Will make an effort to get along and check that out.
Regarding local food distribution, there's an organic farm at Beerwah which sells "subscriptions": each week you give them $60 and they give you a big box of assorted veges. The Permaculture Caboolture people are hoping to start a monthly organic farmers market at CREEC starting on the 14th July. And another bloke is talking about establishing a community garden program at Petrie, which would also link up with the regular markets which are held out that way.
And I did enjoy a chat with a guy on the Australian Greens stand about the theoretical possibility of safe, clean nuclear energy production using technologies which are quite unlike the uranium fuel cycle that everybody associates with the term "nuclear". I was very pleased with the open-minded and sensible reaction - he'd even heard of thorium before I mentioned it.
A few other quick observations to wrap up:
- A lot of paper brochures being given away - how ironic.
- Good representation from Caboolture Shire Council, but with an unsurprising emphasis on economic considerations and "waste management" as opposed to true sustainability.
- I was surprised to see fast food and pre-packaged drinks on sale. (Thumbs up to the organic sausage sizzle though for good taste and the single paper napkin.)
- Local businessman pushing a carbon sink program: $40 for 17 trees, 100 year expected lifespan. It's probably a good thing.
- Greens guy reckons that ethanol being produced for fuel in Qld is derived from the waste material left over from sugar production as opposed to the sugarcane juice itself. I need to do some more research: that might tip the overall energy balance in favour of that particular scheme... but you can bet your Porsche that it's not scalable to the point where it replaces even a small fraction of the state's fuel requirements.