A more sustainable, organic lifestyle is not as far away as many of us would believe. You can start taking small, smart steps now to do your part for the environment while cultivating fresh produce within easy reach. We had a chat to a couple of local growers keen on helping others become fellow green thumbs, challenging some of the obstacles surrounding growing within large urban sprawls.
Laurel Coad is the Permaculture and Bushfood nursery manager at CERES Community Environment Park in Brunswick, Melbourne. Formed over 35 years ago by a group of community members who wanted to use public space for growing food, CERES is a a thriving local initiative supporting a more organic inner city community.
“The park gives a lot more than just organic food and garden plots; it supplies tours and hands on educational experiences for schools,” explains Laurel. “We teach students from all walks of life how to grow and maintain fresh fruit and veggies, while also supplying important messages on the environment and the ecosystem.”
We asked Laurel about some of the benefits of growing your own food.
“Most of all produce is fresh and hasn’t travelled a long distance, you can grow organically, you’re in control of what you put on your food and in your soil, and you can grow what you like. Plus it’s very rewarding – people have lost touch with the fact that they can be in control of producing a large amount of their own food, even in small spaces.
“We work closely with people on how you can grow produce on balconies , or small urban courtyards, or even how you can create a worm farm for all your kitchen waste and dwarf fruit trees and grow them in half wine barrels.”
Feeling inspired, we also chatted to grower Eva Reid, an aquaponic specialist living in Melbourne. Focused on growing in small spaces, especially on balconies, rooftops and in shaded areas, Eva channels her creativity into helping out local businesses and community members.
“I make terrariums, green art and aquaponic systems and assist people with growing solutions,” she says. “I like to try different ways of incorporating plants in art, from terrariums to furniture. Recently, I worked at a bar by covering the balcony in obscure herbs that they could use in their cocktails while also setting up an inner city balcony garden. The tough part was that there was limited sun and the owners travel often. Their balcony now resembles a small jungle including its very own aquaponic system. I made it as low maintenance as possible.”
Positive about the future for local growers, Eva explains, “More and more individuals and businesses alike will see the importance of being as self-sufficient as possible. From the business owners’ perspective it’s what consumers want, and for individuals it’s hard to know what you are actually buying these days.”