Scenes from Senator Carr’s national launch of Sustainable Food

The sun shone, the lemon tea tree cordial was cool in the glass, the light glistened and flickered through the greens of the garden and friends met friends as Senator Carr gave the book, Sustainable Food, its national launch at Sydney’s Sustainable House yesterday.

Here are some scenes from the back garden.  Thanks to Clive Guthrie and Murray Cox for the photos.

Senator Carr and listeners

Into the words

Michael Mobbs, Senator Bob Carr, Sustainable Food


What the trees saw

The garden on the day

Here is what I said when introducing Senator Carr:

“Every time I see Bob Carr in my garden I suddenly feel much older.

Bob launched this house, Sydney’s Sustainable House, in November 1996 when Premier.

That’s sixteen years ago.

But, despite the fear of feeling older at the sight of him, there are three compelling reasons I asked Bob back.

Firstly, Bob has been a great supporter of this house, and my attempts to live sustainably.  That support has rippled into laws and may have driven governments to support other sustainable projects.

Secondly, Bob’s a thinking politician during a moment of mostly banal politics in Australia.  In the 1980s Bob had the backbone to question aloud how many people this land can sustain.  It’s the excessive number of humans which mostly threaten our civilisations.  It takes 100,000 litres of water to produce ten days of food for 1 Australian.  If there are 50 of us here today that’s 500,000 litres of water we need for our meals today.

Thirdly, Bob leads the portfolio which may best develop government policy to make our food supplies secure, to grow food in our cities that will both cool them and cut our energy imports.  And Bob’s well placed to get Parliament House to buy local food so our Australian dollar may stay in the local economy and our politicians may eat healthier food – you never know, it may improve their behaviour and thinking.  I’m amazed Parliament House’s caterers do not buy local food.

The book has been written for citizens like Bob, and for kids, childcare centres, schools, TAFEs and unis.  The local childcare centre has bought a copy and brought the kids around the streets here to harvest then eat some of our road garden tucker.  And it’s going into schools, TAFEs and unis.

Let me thank some people here today.

Firstly, to the person with whom I had a four year conversation about the book. Judy Rapley. Judy is responsible for this book.  No Judy = no book.  Judy introduced me to Bali when I couldn’t finish the book.  There I saw for the first time a country-wide, thousand year old sustainable farming system far superior to anything in Australia and other countries I’d been to.  It was Judy who criticised the text, gave me ideas, criticised me for not engaging with it and gave fearless feedback.  As a consequence, I found hope for our country and finished the book.  This is really a book by myself and by Judy Rapley.

Elspeth Menzies has acumen, wisdom and patience as a publisher which was sufficiently robust to tolerate challenging authors such as I was; I’m very lucky to have had you bring this book to life.  To meet my goal of making the book readable for those who don’t read much I could not have been luckier than to have the quick wit and passion of Di Quick who laid out the text and images.  The warm but professionally cold eye of the editor Jessica Perini sorted out the rant from the reasonable and gave us a book which has a light but serious touch.  There are others here today;  I’ve enjoyed talking about food with Gary Sturgess, one of Australia’s few and finest thinkers about public administration and how governments see the world; Murray Cox a gardener and man of the soil whose hand is in this garden; Lesli Berger the investor who bought $5,000 worth of books so it could be posted to Australian local councils with a letter from me inviting them to respond to the book’s suggestions about how to cool our cities and increase the amount of local food; Stephanie Pillora whose idea that was; my kids Julian and Jessica who bring me back to Earth; and some of the gardeners, photographers, bloggers, chefs and farmers who get up each day and do what we need to do to love Earth and ourselves back to health – grow and buy local food.”

2 Responses to “Scenes from Senator Carr’s national launch of Sustainable Food”
  1. Dr Helen M Hill says:

    This looks like a marvellous event and a good community-based way of getting the message out about sustainable food. Given Bob Carr’s involvement I would like to make a mention of his portfolio in particular the development co-operation part of it. Why does the Australian Aid program not feature any of Australia’s pioneering work in food sustainability namely Permaculture (with one brief exception – Cuba under John Howard), LanCare and the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden movement, rather that always the scientific agriculture Green Revolution approach. This has always puzzled me, Now Urban Agriculture is a great new initiative which could help revolutionize cities ike Jakarta and Manila, but will it be done?

  2. ibika says:

    well done!!!

Leave A Comment

  • Michael Mobbs

    Michael is a former Environmental Lawyer who is uniquely placed to consult in four main areas:

    • Sustainability Coach and Speaker,
    • Sustainable Urban Farm Design greening, watering and cooling the cityscape, roads, parks, suburbs,
    • Major Projects Consultant Commercial and Industrial,
    • Residential Sustainability Consultant.
    For permission to re-print any articles or to book Michael for a speaking engagement go to Contacts. Please ensure all quotes from Michael's blog include a reference to