How much home grown food production is happening in your local area?
I am forever extolling the virtues of the backyard veggie garden and have been heartened by the increase in interest in home grown food over the last decade but I still think there is so much more we can do.
I like to travel by train whether it be in Sydney, in another Australian cities or towns or overseas. Train travel lets you see into the real side of a community – the backyard. Our front yards are often a facade of conformity and societal expectations, whereas we are more our true selves in the confines of our backyard, garden or balcony.
In a recent trip to Europe where I traveled by train around Italy and into Switzerland I was struck by the number of backyards that had some kind food production happening in them. It was nearly all in the cities, and certainly all in the village backyards that I could see from the train window.
In the cities, most of the backyards were tiny, whereas in the outer city areas and villages they ranged from small areas to a hectare. But regardless of size they all had some food producing plants growing in them.
Some the food production units were things of beauty with fruit trees, grape and kiwifruit vines, berries of various kinds and flourishing annual vegetable plots; whilst others were as simple as a 1 m by 2 m rectangle at the back door with a few herbs and leafy greens.
Food production was not limited to just backyards, it spilled out onto street verges, sides of roads, spare railway land and even some railway stations. This was not limited to one country or one community it was consistent wherever I went across the two nations.
These are communities that are contributing to the everyday food needs of their families and others in the communities, many of the smaller villages had produce markets occurring in the town centre.
They are ensuring the food security of their nations.
In my recent train travel around my local area and into Sydney I am not seeing this.
It got me thinking why is local food production not happening more in Australia? Certainly through WWI and II and the Depression every household in Australia had a productive garden, a few fruit trees, the essential backyard lemon tree and backyard chooks. If this hadn’t happened the population would have starved.
The “Growing Your Own” movement has never been stronger in Australia, yet it is still not as prevalent as I have seen in my trip overseas.
Why? And What can we do to change this?
So I am proposing a bit of a straw poll/quick survey to see if I am justified in my accusation that Australians are not participating in Home Grown food production as much as other nations.
So if you are in Australia or another country I would like you to respond to this blog post letting me know how many of your immediate neighbours, say the five or six that you can see from your backyard or balcony, have some kind of food production happening. This could be as simple as a few pots of herbs to a food forest and everything in-between.
I will let you know what the general trend is in my next blog.
In this post are a few of the gardens I saw on my travels, sorry for the quality they were taken from inside a train which was often moving.
Sadly, you’re right. I’m trying to grow my own in central Victoria, and I see others around me doing likewise. But on my train commutes into Melbourne I don’t see many Veg patches. House blocks are smaller and the houses on them larger – maybe that’s why. The biggest challenge for me is mastering the seasons and knowing what will grow in a sometimes capricious climate. It tends to be feast or famine for me, and sometimes I think I grow our veg for the chooks
Hi Ruth Thanks for the feedback. I have a number of blog posts covering what should be planted when and then this post on successive planting to ensure a continual harvest https://myproductivebackyard.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/getting-your-snow-peas-in-for-the-early-cropping/
Hope they can help. Kathy
Sorry I can’t see in to Any of my neighbours backyards 😦 But we do and my parents do 20 minutes away.
Thanks for the feedback.Sounds wonderful not being able to see your neighbour’s backyards and good on you and your parents for having productive backyards. Kathy
Hi I’m in taranaki New Zealand….neighbours either side have very productive vegetable gardens, but most people aren’t vegetable gardening though sadly many people are time poor.
Hi Rich, fabulous to see your neighbours are involved in home grown food. I will be posting some ideas for the “don’t know where to start” or “too busy” people in the next blog so stay tuned.
It is interesting to note the difference between countries. I think NZ is similar to Oz, in that home food production is being talked about a lot but a lot of people still aren’t doing it. In saying that, most people I know do grow at least something, even if it’s just a few herbs or fruit trees. All my neighbours have edibles growing, but we’re in the country so that’s expected. I can’t imagine life without growing edibles, but some people don’t know where to start or are ‘too busy’. It’s really just a matter of different priorities in a culture of efficiency.
Hi Twiglet, Thanks for the feedback, great to see so many of your neighbours and friends doing something. I will be posting some ideas for the “don’t know where to start” or “too busy” people in the next blog so stay tuned.
Hi Kathy, well I’m on a hectare of land and all my neighbours likewise and you would think there would be acres of veggie gardens and fruit trees, but sadly there are instead acres and acres of mown grass which they delight in riding around on their ride-ons every week! Only 2 of my immediate neighbours have any sort of veggie garden and one of those is Italian so I suppose that’s to be expected as they are usually into that sort of thing. Very disappointing really.
I also visit an elderly friend nearby, in a court with standard quarter-acre blocks and although I have put in a small veggie area for her, none of her neighbours are into food gardens either.
WOW that is disappointing. I moved to a larger block so I had room to have an orchard, bigger veggie garden and chooks, so you wonder what motivated your neighbours to buy a hectare of land if they are not utilising it.