After three decades pushing boundaries as a behavioural scientist, focused on what motivates people to change, Wentworth Falls resident Susanne Rix has now developed the first Blue Mountains Edible Garden Festival and Trail – from Little Hartley to Glenbrook.
As one of the first in Australia to explore the positive impact of meditation in the workplace, she’s now focused on what it takes to shift people’s behaviour from poisoning the environment to restoring it. Over the coming weekend, 3/4 March 2018, participants will be able to visit both private and public edible gardens, including community farms and school gardens. There will also be workshops as well as a Panel Discussion and Dinner on Saturday night called Overgrowing the System.
Susanne pinpoints the exact moment that she realised how important it was to have an Edible Gardens Festival. She’d visited a garden festival in the Mountains and was surprised to see the focus on stunning, beautiful floral displays at the expense of the environment … “there was not a frog or weed in sight.”
She believes that if people start to grow their own food, they begin to realise that ‘how’ they garden has a huge impact impact on their own health. They realise that the pesticides and herbicides, which may be responsible for bee decline and poor soil health because of destruction of soil organisms, will ultimately affect their own health.
Susanne is convinced, too, that acting locally has a huge impact globally. For Susanne, “the process of learning to grow food is also the process of learning about the wider environment.” Once you start to protect what happens in your garden, you realise it’s also impacted by what happens in the rest of the world, and so you want to protect that too.
There’s also “the joy of getting your fingers in the dirt”, which is now a recognised antidote for depression. “You can’t be miserable when you’re in a garden,” she says beaming, as she shows us around her own food forest in Wentworth Falls.
“I’d like to see this festival and trail grow to be a regular event all around Australia,” she says. Her optimism is also reflected in her planting of both an optimist’s garden and a pessimist’s garden …. one set of plants, in case it gets hotter and drier, and one set of plants if the opposite happens. Against all the odds she’s attempting mangoes and avocados as well as the usual stone fruits, known to grow well in cold climates.
Talking to Susanne, it’s no surprise to hear that she’s an Al Gore-trained climate presenter focused on educating people about climate change, and that she recently spent a weekend chained to a tree in Queensland while protesting against the Adani mine.
But she’s not working alone. Joining forces with Transitions Blue Mountains, Kindle Hill School, Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens, Lyttleton Stores and Slow Food Food Blue Mountains, Susanne has motivated a small team to help her launch this inaugural festival. A grant from Bendigo Bank has provided the capital to kickstart the event, and any proceeds will be passed on to local community gardens.
One of Susanne’s goals is for the Trail to demonstrate “how you can save money and have an influence on the climate by growing your own food.” By visiting a range of gardens, from small home gardens to community gardens, she hopes that people will learn how easy it is to grow food and be inspired to get started themselves.
Tickets for the Festival are available online from : www.lyttletonstores.com.au/edible-garden-festival/ You can also book by phone to 02 4759 3478 (Lyttleton Stores)
Buy tickets in person (and collect your wrist band and guide) at Glenbrook Village Nursery , Lyttleton Stores Lawson, Fed Cafe & Deli, Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains Food Co-op Katoomba, Gleebooks Blackheath or The Bogbean Health Food Store Blackheath.
Susanne was interviewed by Lis Bastian and Finn Connolly.
For more information visit: facebook.com/bluemountainsediblegardenfestival