Updated Fri 28 Feb 2014, 12:08pm AEDT
The peak body for the vegetable industry believes that they’re a biosecurity risk to the country’s horticulture sector.
Ausveg initially made the comments in a press release that supported the Federal Government’s decision to scrap the $1.5 million Community Food Grants program.
The program, a key initiative under Labor’s National Food Plan, would have provided funding to community gardens and farmers’ markets, but also food hubs, food rescue groups, and local food projects.
But Costa Georgiadis, presenter of ABC TV’sGardening Australia, says community gardens are no threat to biosecurity.
“Community gardens are about growing awareness and getting people inspired in local seasonal food,” he said.
“To think that spending money on an initiative like that that brings people closer to their food, and develops food as a health initiative, how could you think that a $1 million spent on growing community.
“The thing with community garden is that it’s not just the produce you’re growing, you’re growing the actual community, people are sharing, people are engaging.
“My community garden in my street is not a threat to the biosecurity of the country, because in a community garden the moment fruit is ready it’s gone.
“I struggle with the thought that a community garden is a biosecurity threat, I think the only threat the community gardens are posing to some ways of thinking is that people are becoming more aware of a local food option and not relying on imports.”
There’s a growing interest among Australians in the local food movement, with those wanting to either grow their own or meet those who do.
“I think what community gardens and the whole local food system is saying is let’s ditch convenience for seasonality and let’s make local the driver of our food ethos, which is about health and not about convenience,” he said.
Costa says that if industry bodies see this movement as a threat, then they’re taking a backward step.
“What they’re doing is saying ‘We’re going to shut you down’ it’s only going to build a bigger groundswell, when they should be building that groundswell to actually promote more and more growers in local areas,” he said.
“That will only ultimately build up the end-game for them, which is exports.”