Living Locally, Living Sustainably, Living Well: the story of a local sustainability group aiming to reduce their carbon footprint in response to climate change, with some big visions around a Zero Net Energy Town (ZNET) and Trentham Carbon-free Communities workshops as well as ongoing projects on waste, housing, transport, water and food.
Trentham Sustainability Group (TSG) was formed in February 2008, following a well-attended Public Forum on Global Warming, including a presentation on climate change lead by an ‘Al Gore Ambassador’.
Since inception, TSG’s aim is to raise awareness, explore ideas to reduce our carbon footprint and help build local resilience as we deal with the effects of climate change in a small community. TSG began with several initiatives which have been implemented over the years. Some initiatives or actions have been fully implemented and others are ongoing.
Vision: A vibrant network of informed, passionate and creative people working together within the community to incubate new food enterprises and build resilient local value chain partnerships.
TSG’s main projects include:
- Energy Efficiency & Waste Management: Community Conversations and Film Nights to raise awareness, share ideas and promote local action.
- Sustainable Housing: including energy audits and Sustainable House Bus Tours.
- Refuse, Re-use, Re-cycle: Plastic-free Campaign and introduction of cotton string bags to replace plastic. Talks given to local Primary School students.
- Public Transport: a public bus trial aimed at reducing carbon emissions and increase options for local commuters to train stations and nearby towns.
- Water Security: Public forums held in conjunction with the regional water authority to explore various water supply options which will contribute to Trentham’s long-term water security.
- Future Food & Farming – Keeping it Local: Connecting local people with local food and knowing where your food comes from. Hosting Film Nights about ‘fair food’ and Community Dinners using all local food, produce and beverages.
The ‘Local Food’ initiative has grown to become a substantial project in its own right and is now independently ‘Trentham Food Hub’ www.trenthamfoodhub.org
- Growers, Cookers & Eaters Dinner – a celebration of local food held annually for the past six years. Always a ‘sell-out’, the GCE dinner showcases local farmers, producers and chefs, and provides an ideal opportunity for networking whilst raising awareness about the importance of establishing a local food economy and future food security – all while indulging in a delicious locally produced banquet.
- Produce Exchange – celebrates four years of monthly swaps in January 2018, held at Trentham Farmers Market. The swap table has become a great place to meet new people, connect with our local community, share information, ideas and recipes, as well as swapping and sharing any excess produce from our backyard gardens, no $$ involved. The Produce Exchange is one of our most successful regular activities.
- Distribution Centre – Recent acquisition and renovation (ongoing!) of a big old centrally located shed is a great space from which to work and house our mobile cool-room. We plan to host workshops and other activities at the shed in the future.
- Veggie Box Scheme – Launched in 2017, this scheme offers local people access to fresh seasonal produce. Regional farmers and producers deliver their produce to the cool-room each week. These are packed by Food Hub volunteers and collected by customers who’ve placed an on-line order. We now have beaut new jute bags for our veggies.
2018 & beyond: TSG aims to step up to larger town and shire-wide projects, collaborating with other regional sustainability groups and organisations.
- Carbon-free Communities workshops – introduced last year to explore how our region can become carbon neutral, including local renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions at a business, individual and community level. Popular ideas are a solar energy bulk-buy and installation of a Waste to Energy processing plant.
- Zero Net Energy Town (ZNET) – is at the feasibility stage through funding from Sustainability Victoria, in partnership with Hepburn Wind, Hepburn Shire and five regional sustainability groups. Aims to become 100% renewable energy and develop the community capacity to deliver a community transition pathway.
In these ways we are transitioning to a vibrant local food economy and conserving the rich agricultural land surrounding Trentham.
Glenda Holmes, Convenor, Trentham Sustainability Group