The Blue Mountains Co-op Plot:
A Collaboration with Farm It Forward
We pay our respects to the rightful custodians of the land we grow on, the Gundungurra and Dharug people.
Why Is This Plot Important and What is Our Vision?
The Blue Mountains Food Co-op in collaboration with Farm It Forward, acquired usage and established a regenerative micro market garden right in the heart of Katoomba. The Blue Mountains Co-op Plot aims to raise awareness on the importance of growing local food, creating meaningful local partnerships whilst nurturing community health, wellbeing, increased food security and disaster preparedness.
Farm It Forward is a social enterprise connecting landowners and local young people who are passionate about growing food.
Over its 3.5 years of operation it has provided the community with avenues for obtaining skills, training and job opportunities in regenerative market gardening, while tackling issues of food security, social isolation, social inclusion, and mental health in the Blue Mountains area.
What is a ‘Market Garden’ and How Does Ours Work?
All food grown here over Spring and Summer will be sold at the Blue Mountains Food Co-op and provide ongoing employment for a young Farm It Forward grower.
We set up the plot in the beginning of September, and it has now started to produce coriander and kale for the Co-op. More vegetable crops are slowly becoming ready to harvest. Over summer, yields will increase exponentially.
A "market garden" is simply a vegetable plot, where the produce is sold to the community as opposed to being grown for personal use. Through selling produce grown here, the Blue Mountains Food Co-Op actively contributes to circular economics, greater food security and community resilience.
We like to call our growing method radical non-disturbance. We never dig or till the soil, only add a generous layer of organic matter on top, before and after each crop.
We treat each crop as a cover crop, keeping the soil happy with living plants at all times, nurturing and feeding a diverse community of soil microorganisms that in turn keep our plants and ecosystems happy. Our sources of organic material/compost are our own worm farms and good quality locally sourced mushroom compost. We have regenerated over 2 acres of depleted, eroded soil in this way, and turned it into productive, healthy urban market gardens.
Our methods are considered regenerative as they build soil and soil health as opposed to depleting it.
How did you set it up?
We used the sheet mulching method, covering the entire area with cardboard, wood mulch and copious amounts of compost. It was an incredible community effort with over 70 people coming along to help throughout the day. Check out the Farm It Forward socials for a stop motion time lapse of the process.
What is local food security and why is it important?
The availability, access and consumption of nutritionally adequate food are the three pillars on which the concept of food security is based. Growing food locally is essential as we enter more precarious times with increased risk of climatic extremes and pandemics , during which supply chains from further afield are likely to be interrupted.
This garden aims to raise awareness around the importance of growing hyper local food at a small market garden scale to complement our own backyard food growing and food from further afield.
What is growing here at the moment? Cavolo Nero kale, coriander, swiss chard, different lettuces and snowpeas. The beautiful dahlias will soon pop up around the garden as well.