Fiona Louise Buining is passionate about growing plants, especially food plants, and is inspired to create pathways for future food growers in urban areas. Working with teenagers as a teacher she has seen first-hand the physical and mental health benefits of learning to grow food. As a grower she has observed an unmet demand for locally grown fresh food. Her question was: how do you become an urban grower in Australia?
Fiona was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2020 to investigate urban farm ventures that provide vocational pathways for aspiring food growers. Fiona believes that growing good food is one of the most positive actions people can do for their own health and to heal the planet.
Together with her husband, Dr. Michael Wilson, she has grown vegetables in every house she has lived in. Fiona majored in plant ecology and physiology at Macquarie University graduating with first class Honours. She completed the first Permaculture Design Course taught by David Holmgren in the 1990’s and later taught residential Permaculture Design Courses with David for 7 years.
Fiona and Michael have used permaculture principles to design two of their own properties – their 1 acre in Hepburn Springs and their ¼ acre in Ainslie. Their property in Hepburn Springs gained recognition and set a legal precedent as it was the first property in a sewered area to install an approved composting toilet and grey water system. Fiona also worked as an environmental consultant in Victoria and ran a small business called Solar Sisters running tours of passive solar homes in Hepburn Springs.
After moving to Canberra in 2004 Fiona worked as a Science and Sustainability teacher for 16 years most recently at Merici College. Fiona managed the Merici College Kitchen Garden from 2012-2019, a teaching garden that grows seasonal vegetables using organic growing methods to supply the school canteen and restaurant. Students in the Sustainability elective worked under Fiona’s direction in the garden and also studied a range of sustainability issues through project-based learning. Her work was recognised when Merici won the ACT Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Cities Award in 2012 and the ACTsmart Schools Sustainable School of the Year in 2019.
Ainslie Urban Farm has over 50 fruit trees, nuts, berries, vegetables, 2 beehives, chickens and working rabbits that help prepare garden beds.