Let me touch some more on how I see smart growth for Wangaratta.
Growing our communities doesn’t mean focusing solely on increasing our population. Instead, let’s put the emphasis toward making our town smart and sustainable and it’ll become a safe, healthy place where everyone wants to live, work, visit and invest.
We need to focus on our strengths and that’s why our access to water and land should mean we have a vibrant local food scene, weekly farmers markets, food swaps and neighbourhood nature-strip farming.
Our region will grow if we grow our own food and the spin-off from this is our food culture. Let’s grow our own chefs and hospitality people by fostering pathways for our youngsters from Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Gardens to high school food and livestock gardens, and then onto TAFE gardening and agriculture courses.
Our community will grow when our community gardens thrive and our home gardens grow veggies, not grass. I will sleep well when the entrance to Wangaratta is a vibrant veggie patch or edible parkland, and not a rose garden next to a fast food outlet.
Our community will grow when our hospitals fund veggie gardens and when our doctors dig. Once food cultures grow in our hospitals and health services there’ll be fermenting kombucha scoobies, kraut and kefir bubble in bottles in our kitchens. That’s when our gut health will be treated as seriously as our mental health.
Growing our community means sustainable and appropriate energies and transport. Cycling ought to be celebrated. Schools leading the way with cycling targets, businesses promoting customer and staff cycling, and Council strategies, investments and works geared toward the energy declining future. A community that cycles and walks knows that it’s not just cool, but it connects us, grounds us and keeps us healthy. (Don’t tell anyone, but cycling is cheap too).
Growing our community means becoming active. Not just CrossFit but life-fit, garden-fit and socially-fit.
This is how I see Wangaratta growing to become the vibrant and dynamic regional city we can all be proud of.