A QUIRKY Beaconsfield goat has become the star of a new children’s picture book from the owners of a local urban farm who’ve sneaked in a few lessons about sustainability.
Sustainability educator Shani Graham and artist Tim Darby’s book Lady Marmalade features the goat of the same name that lives on their part-urban farm, part-sustainable commune, Ecoburbia.
Started in 2013, Ecoburbia now features goats and chickens and a large garden from which the nine commune residents get their supply of fresh vegetables, eggs and dairy.
“We supply 90 per cent of our veggies in summer, and 50 per cent in winter,” Ms Graham said.
Somewhat of an icon in their corner of Beaconsfield, Lady Marmalade often goes on walks with the couple and the neighbourhood children.
“She’s just a character,” Mr Darby said.
“She looks like the donkey from Shrek when she walks.”
Mr Darby said the book aimed to teach children the concepts of food sustainability and urban resilience.
He said living in a city didn’t have to mean being disconnected from food sources and not knowing where food came from.
The story follows the adventures of a country goat, Lady Marmalade, as she gets lost in a city without fresh food. Eventually, she stumbles across a group of neighbours growing their own vegetables.
The ending of the book sees Lady Marmalade uniting the neighbours to create a small community, and together they revel in the supply of fresh food.
The story also aims to increase children’s awareness of healthy eating, multiculturalism, dealing with loneliness, making friends and community.
Lady Marmalade enjoys a colourful range of vegetables, from carrots to beetroots, grown by neighbours from many cultural backgrounds, from Indigenous Australian to Chinese.
The book has already earned praise, including from Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis.
“I loved Lady Marmalade from the moment I saw her,” Georgiadis said.
“There’s so much to learn when we look at life through her goggles; with good food and friends you have the world in your neighbourhood.”
Murdoch University pro vice chancellor of sustainability Martin Brueckner said he liked the story and Ecoburbia’s ethos because it was important for children to learn about food sources and production.
“Urban living comes with a sense of divorce from the things that support life in the city,” Prof Brueckner said.
“Children see vegetables coming from supermarket shelves, wrapped in plastic.
“Growing your own food fills a gap; you’re connecting children to the cycle of life and showing them where their food is coming from and how it is grown.”
Ms Graham and Mr Darby said the picture book was perfect for children in the early stages of reading development and featured rhyme, repetition and counting.
Lady Marmalade is available from New Edition Bookshop and Paper Bird Children’s Books in Fremantle, and from Ecoburbia’s website.
For small Lady Marmalade fans interested in a more immersive experience, there’ll be a book launch at Ecoburbia on October 22 at 4pm featuring a walk around the block with Lady Marmalade.
by JESSICA CONSTANTINE