“I started growing food out of curiosity. I liked the idea of having lettuce and herbs and tomatoes on hand for meals and so started with half a dozen pots on my balcony. As the balcony began to fill and fill with pots, my husband suggested I put a garden bed in our backyard, and so I did. As our eldest daughter became more curious and we enjoyed spending time together in the garden we extended the 2 square meter patch to 6 square meter and then slowly the gardening bug took hold.
Our time in the garden also inspired me to do a PhD exploring children’s relationship with ethical consumption which I finished in 2015. During that time we decided to establish a properly designed garden with a “She Shed” so I could have a little oasis to enjoy and escape the computer. I have 21 square meter of dedicated vegetable patches, all inspired by the opportunity to spend time in my garden with my daughters. I often catch myself just watching them as they explore or play or munch on whatever is on offer. It sounds excessively sentimental, but it’s those moments I try hardest to hold onto and remember.
We live in a sub-tropical growing zone with mild winters and I can keep my garden actively producing all year around, although we’ve had such a hot and dry summer, I’ve really had to choose carefully what I grow. The perks of growing your own in terms of freshness, satisfaction and an ability to grow things not always available in stores can’t be beat. I also love to grow things I’ve never grown before purely out of curiosity and being in my garden brings me peace in an otherwise busy life. I’m always advocating for the benefits time spent gardening can bring to individuals and communities and in doing so, often reflect upon how much it has also helped me.
I’m currently working as a researcher in therapeutic horticulture, disability studies and childhood studies and love that my work ties into my love of gardening! I recently had the honor of presenting to Singapore National Parks on how to maximize the benefits of gardening for kids and people with disability and managed to pick up an Australian Institute of Horticulture award for my work in the field.
I’m constantly inspired by seeing people who normally may not get the opportunity to actively participate in gardening, get to do so and be proud of what they’ve achieved. I want people to feel empowered through their time in greenspaces and gardening. I want them to realize their potential and thrive through the opportunity of growing their own food.
My goal will always be to be gardening as much as possible and generally have my feet in gumboots and hands in the soil as often as possible. My garden is now three years old and I’ve enjoyed watching it settle into its landscape. The shed has greyed from the weather and the garden has developed little paths for exploring that await adventure within its nooks and crannies. I love watching it constantly change and grow. But there’s a big stretch of lawn next to my existing vegetable patch and I’m always eyeing it off for further garden expansions. If I could dream big it would be to fill the space with more beds and grow food to donate to foodbanks or local community kitchens, even have an open invitation for local schools and disability services to come and enjoy the space too. But while I’m working full time with a young family, that’s way too ambitious. It is maybe a 10 year goal. Okay maybe 15?”