Current challenges and restrictions imposed by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic are helping some to imagine a better planet and how people may collectively better address ecological habits, values and attitudes.
I noted a shortage in vegetable seedlings when I went to a local nursery, to which my initial reaction was disappointment, followed closely by excitement, as I imagined how many people were planting veggies at the same time.
However, the shortage of seedlings and seed stock is becoming more widespread, putting pressure on outlets trying to keep up with demand.
Susan Hill, market coordinator with SCPA South East Producers, said there have been lots of people looking for seedlings at the market on Fridays and said they do appear to be concerned about food security at this time.
Bega Garden Nursery owner Judy Geary says that seedlings are certainly in high demand. The two suppliers of the nursery who are based in Victoria have increased their production, tripling their sowing.
"People are stuck at home and want something to do, want to be active - many have had long-time intentions to build a garden and have now been presented with an opportunity to do so," Ms Geary explains.
"Going to the garden is often a subconscious need to be in nature, for reassurance, to nourish the soul with quiet time and stillness."
Ms Geary suggests that at this time, after the trauma of the fires and now the coronavirus pandemic, many people may have weakened adrenal function as a result of ongoing stress and would benefit most from doing less, not more.
"Planting a little bit often, swapping excess produce and simply sitting in the garden," are suggestions Ms Geary makes.
People are thinking twice now about where their food is coming from and how sustainable supply will be.
In reference to approaching hoarding and overconsumption, Ms Hill cited the three foundations of permaculture ethics - Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.
Earth Care: provision for all life systems to continue and multiply.
People Care: provision for people to access those resources necessary to their existence.
Fair Share: by governing our own needs, living within limits and consciously co-creating, we can create surplus resources to further the previous two ethics.
"I'm excited to see the other side of this - the changes made and new skills people have learned," Ms Hill said.
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Mel Pickering, Riverside Nursery manager, attributes the increase in seedling sales to both a fear response related to food security concerns and people having more time to garden.
Riverside will also look to increase in their stock, but there will be a lag for a couple of weeks while their suppliers catch up, so seedling stock will be rationed until then.
"We are also investing in infrastructure to grow more of of our own seedlings so that we can have more consistent supply that doesn't rely on transport or other factors out of our control.
"We will slowly roll this out in the next year, which will mean less chemical usage and no freight requirements.
"The current situation may be inspiring less experienced gardeners to gain confidence and spend more time in the garden with their families, it's a great thing to do in a time of anxiety," Ms Pickering said.
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