The Food Forest

2009 Australia Day Awards

On Australia Day, 26 Jan 2009, Annemarie and Graham Brookman were named Corporate Citizens of the Year by their local community in Gawler, South Australia. This report of the award written by Sarah Thomas, appeared in the local newspaper, The Bunyip. The article follows...

'Experiment' pays dividends'

annemarie & grahamThey are Gawler's Corporate Citizens of the Year, but 25 years ago they did not know exactly what they were getting into!

"Our property has been the site of a 25 year experiment to find a sustainable land-use system for southern Australia" said Graham. "It was a bigger project than we imagined as we tried to buy some land, keep trees alive, control weeds, pay off mortgages, raise a family and meet our obligations as community members". However the couple persisted and eventually prevailed.

"After the first decade we were satisfied that we had found an ecologically and socially sustainable way of using our 15 hectares, but the challenge remained to demonstrate economic sustainability" Annemarie said. "Over the last few years we have been able to show some high powered national and state judging panels that the permaculture design system for sustainable land-use, home and garden design and economic viability really works. So we've won an embarrassingly large number awards and citations in areas as diverse as food, organic growing, rabbit control, building design, nature conservation and environmentally sustainable business".

They have also been sharing their knowledge in the hope of having a wider effect.

The Food Forest has been informally teaching and promoting permaculture, the Australian design system for sustainable living, for 25 years. Graham says "It is fantastically symbolic that we receive this award on Australia Day as, in the long term, permaculture may be one of the nation's greatest gifts to the world. Only when there is sufficient groundswell will governments and regulators put the carrots and sticks in place to 'require' change."

And despite having received many awards Graham and Annemarie were still 'extremely surprised and honoured' to receive the title of corporate citizens of the year.

"Gawler still has the tradition of a country town in that individual citizens can and expect to make a difference to the way the town works, and be recognised for it" Graham said.

"This is enormously empowering, especially for young people".