I’m so excited to tell you about this project – we have started a community vegetable garden! For years, I’ve been wanting to grow more of my own food. There were years where my little balcony was overgrown with huge heirloom tomato plants and beans – it was a challenge to find a spot to sit down! But surely, my long awaited dream of having an allotment space to grow vegetables, fruit & cut flowers is coming into reality and probably better than I could’ve asked for – in this post I’ll tell you all about it & how we’re getting started!
As we moved into our new home in a different town last year, there was only one little drawback: the lack of garden space to create both a lovely family garden and a vegetable plot at the same time. Until I heard that our local council had a program to support the start up of a community vegetable garden – so I was quick to find like minded people in our neighbourhood and get an application in! Things got delayed during the pandemic season and for a while we were unsure if it would even happen this year. Yet midway June we got the message that the allotment was going ahead…And although we’re a good way into the growing season, we’re fully enthusiastic to get finally get started anyways!
Let’s first chat about some reasons why we’d even want to grow our own food, and then I’ll share more about how we’re getting started.
Why We’d Like To Grow Our Own Food
There’s something special about growing your own food, and here are our main reasons why we’re getting stuck into this:
1. It connects you to your food & the soil
Aside from the fact that our current food system is pretty crooked and should be questioned (grapes from India anyone? How about some beans from Kenia?), there’s a sense of wonder and connection about getting your hands in the soil, planting a seed, seeing it coming to life and turn into something we can nourish our bodies with. To grow some of your own food means eating more seasonal and local, which is lots more sustainable. I value the flavour and the superior nutritional value of freshly picked food and treasure the seasonality of it all. It makes me feel more human.
For more info about our food system and why we should rethink where we source our food, I can recommend this book by Dr Caroline Leaf that I’ve been reading. She speaks all about the food-brain connection (from a Christian perspective) and I could recommend this book if you’d like to learn more or challenge yourself in this area!
2. It’s great for your wellbeing
It’s no secret that gardening is great for mental & physical health. It is known to relieve stress, anxiety and even help with depression! Having a garden or allotment means that you need to get out of your house (and not just when it’s sunny), get some fresh air and live in the moment. It slows you right down, as you watch a seed sprout and your food grow – it takes time and that’s a wonderful thing! Then there’s the physical side of things – gardening is pretty much a work out + you’ll get some exposure to Vit D! It’s a great way to stay fit, both mentally and physically.
3. Teaching kids about growing food and sustainability
I think it’s a wonderful thing to pass on knowledge and experience in this area to our children. As we learn ourselves, they are learning along and it’s a gift for life when they are connected to their food and the knowledge on how it grows. Whether they will continue to cultivate a love for gardening and growing is up to them, but the connection will remain. I want my kids to know that tomatoes don’t just come from the supermarket – that there’s care and effort put in by someone to provide this food for us.
These are pretty much the main reasons of why I’ve always grown some food (even if it was just some herbs + tomatoes on the balcony) and why I’m excited to get started on the learning curve to grow more! Let’s get it into how we got started & what our vision for this communal garden is.
How We Started Our Community Vegetable Garden
Our local council is running a project where you can request to ‘adopt’ a piece of green council land and use it to start a community vegetable garden. It is such a great program as they provide the space + some tools and it’s a win-win for both sides. All I needed was to find some other neighbours who wanted to join in and file an application!
Quickly we had a group of four families together and met up to see what are ideas and dreams were for the space. First and foremost, we wanted it to be a space to involve the kids which was more important to us than a super efficient plot. And although a lot of vision and ideas will take shape along the way, we started from that common ground. We also made a long list of things we wanted to grow in the garden and made a little design draft for placing the beds etc.
Things got delayed by months during the pandemic, and for a while I wasn’t even sure if it would happen at all this year. We had lots of seedlings sitting in too small a pot, desperate to be planted out in the soil. But the council finally got in contact to let us know the grounds were being prepared! We ended up with a fenced piece of land full of fresh compost and got started straight away – the growing season was well on it’s way so we want to make the most of what’s left!
We started by giving shape to this space – armed with shovels and wheelbarrows we dug out paths between the beds and filled them with a thick layer of wood chips. From there, we started planting seedlings and fresh seeds and built some structures from recycled materials from our sheds. We made sure there was plenty of snacks and coffee involved and it was a fun & special process, despite the rainy days!
Our main aim for this garden is to be a safe, educational and fun place for all of us to learn how to grow our own food and for the kids to be part of it just as much as the adults. Obviously we want to get a decent harvest from it too, but that comes in second. I would love to learn how to look after the soil, create a natural garden and use organic fertilisers, save our own seeds and all that – but I also know that those things will take time and we have to get started somewhere. We’ll learn along the way, together!
Tune in into my Instagram (@eatyourdailygreens) to follow the process and see what we’re planting this year! In the future, I’d definitely hope to share more of our food growing adventures and write recipes straight from the garden to our table. Leave me a comment down below to let me know what you’d like to see more of or learn!