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  • Gavin King

    Tropic Now editor

    Email Gavin King

    Community minded residents plant food for all on streets of Cairns

    There's a quiet revolution underway on the grass footpaths and verges across Cairns involving free food, community spirit and a vision of sustainability.

    Fresh food grown on footpaths by residents and available to all is a trend fast catching on in metropolitan centres like Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.

    Now it seems the urban food revolution is slowly catching on in Cairns.

    A new Facebook page called Urban Food Street Cairns established to gauge interest in the growing global trend now has over 130 members.

    Several residents are now planting a range of fruit and vegetables on unused footpath spaces to provide communal food for neighbours and passersby alike. It is hoped more and more neighbourhoods will take up the idea.

    While it's a relatively new trend in Cairns, urban food has been flourishing in other cities for years.

    One of Australia's most prominent examples is in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast. Back in 2009, a local couple decided to plant lime trees on the verge outside their home.

    Over time, it developed into a suburb-wide trend involving 11 streets and dozens of varities of fruit and veggies.

    "It started with us deciding to plant limes, and then it evolved into this notion that if we put the limes out on the nature strip people could pick a lime for whatever they need it for," one of the founders of Urban Food Street in Buderim Caroline Kemp told the ABC earlier this year.

    Westcourt resident James Engelbrecht is an active member of the Urban Food Street Cairns group on Facebook and he's recently planted a few fruit trees outside his home.

    James wrote: "A lot of peeps around the world are growing edible verges. So how can we get started? Share on the Facebook page what you are doing or going to do and what suburb you are in.

    "Connect with your neighbourhood and ask them to join you. It may be as simple as growing a few fruit trees out the front, growing vines like pumpkin or watermelon, raised vege beds or all of it."

    Cairns Regional Council's policy on verges and footpaths requires residents to seek written permission before planting anything on verges.

    Other councils are more progressive. Brisbane City Council recently announced it had relaxed its local laws on verge planting to encourage more gardening activity on the street.

    "We believe that verge gardens, when complying with some basic safety guidelines, will be a great way to enhance our city," a Brisbane councillor said.

    "With a simple checklist that we've created, gardening gurus can now establish a verge garden outside their homes to help beautify local streets and show pride in their neighbourhood."

    VIDEO: Take a tour of Buderim where 11 streets are involved in an urban food revolution.