Food Catchments

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 08 Apr 1995 09:37:39 WST
From: Warwick Rowell <warwick@bettong.eepo.dialix.oz.au>
To: sustag@beta.tricity.wsu.edu

"The linguistics is fun, mais une grande 'erring rouge!

The major point of interest here is examining systems to define the 
conditions where food starts moving one way rather than the other.

A colleague has suggested that the social catchment is at least as 
important as the geographical/physical one in determining landcare 

It could be as simple as the fact that there is a bootmaker in the 
town ten miles further away, that leads to the social habit of 
shopping there rather than closer to home, and so more suppliers set 
up there, and then the wholesaler, etc.

We're finding the reverse here in the SW of WA, where little country 
towns that were established a day's horse and cart ride apart have been 
diminishing in function and population ever since the car came on 
the scene. 

The resurgence of interest in homesteading and permaculture is 
perhaps their brightest light on the horizon for many years. 
Many resettlers are adopting the strategy of buying their lot in town, 
or on the edge, where the infrastructure (technical and social) is already 

Barraba, about 80 kms north of Tamworth in NSW, went through a deliberate
renewal process, of canvassing town and hinterland people for the 
facility they most resented going to Tamworth for. They then cleaned
up one of vacant shops, and advertised for in fact a bootmaker/saddler.
They came; husband, wife, two kids. A class size was viable again, 
the teacher stayed, and so their little economy grew. This is a nice 
alternative to the "sellout" to big industry. The key is to focus on 
the really needed service. The hassle with many LETS schemes for 
instance is that so many of the services offered are discretionary 
or luxury items.  

One of the major factors in sensible food catchments is the incredible
subsidies, actual and implicit, we are paying for transport. At the
moment our neighbourhood's food catchment is the world - there is fruit
from Israel, Phillipines, California, South America, etc in our 
supermarket. Our expectations are unreal.

So the pragmatic task of meeting our food (and other) needs from as close 
to home as we possibly can is also a major ethical and environmental and 
economic stance we can pursue. This task underlies the academic exploration
of foodshed, food circle, food net, or whatever we want to call it.

depriving our local community of resources needed for its growth in pursuit
of a slightly higher return is systematically stupid. 

Waste, energy, stupid criteria for breeding (shelf life, handling 
ability) are all minimised.

Economic success is more and more being seen as influenced by the recycling
of financial resources in an area. Economists have come up with a new 
definition: resilience - the amount of local demand that is met by local 

The permaculture concept of zoning would be relevant to anybody managing 
their food sources. As a permaculturist, I might design a system so: 

I can meet my need for basic herbs, salads and green vegetables 
within 10m of my back door. 

I can meet my need for staple vegetables within 50m of my back door.

I can meet my need for most seasonal fruit within my neighbourhood.

I can meet my need for small meat within 50m of my back door.

I can meet my need for larger meats and milk within 1 km of my back 
door. (usually by buying from someone else in the neighbourhood)

I can meet my occasional infrequent need for exotic herbs, spices, fruit
from the local shop.

I can meet my need for bulk grains through a CSA within x miles..

It goes further - "I will make the pragmatic, ethical decision that in 
general I will invest x% in the future of my locality by being prepared to 
pay that much more for anything I can buy cheaper elsewhere than in 
my local community."
|                warwick.rowell@eepo.com.au                |
|      20 Onslow Rd Shenton Pk 6008 Western Australia      |
|   Management Consultant     Permaculture Designer        |
|_"Helping Managers Learn"___"Helping Land Managers Learn"_|