Have family or friends coming for dinner? Imagine serving them a meal made entirely from fresh, ripe veggies plucked straight from your garden.
While few things in life are as mouth-watering and awe-inspiring as this, is it really worth the time and effort to do, when a supermarket shop is just a click of the iPhone away?
For the growing movement of edible gardeners around Australia, the answer is an emphatic yes!!
The Edible Garden Trail started in the Blue Mountains two years ago and since then, it has rapidly expanded into the South Coast, Lane Cove in Sydney and two communities in Victoria.
Its founder is a passionate gardener and climate activist named Susanne Rix who wanted to encourage people to grow their own food as a way of lowering the carbon footprints of both individuals and communities, as well as to discourage the use of herbicides like Roundup from going into the soil.
“The intention of the Edible Garden Trail is to inspire others to create their own edible gardens - resulting in lower food miles, greater food security, and increased awareness of composting,” says Susanne.
When studies such as this one show that the average food basket in Victoria has travelled some 70,000kms or around Australian’s coastline three times before it gets to the consumer, using a staggering 16, 989 tonnes of Co2, the benefits of growing your own food for the planet are huge. When you also factor in reducing the use of plastic and cardboard food packaging, the benefits are even greater.
As Susanne mentions, composting organic material instead of putting it into landfill is also another major benefit to the environment. Sadly, about half of what the average Australian household throws out is compostable organic material. Once in landfill this releases methane, which is a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more damaging than carbon dioxide. Instead, by setting up your own compost bin and putting your organic material back into your veggie patch all of that goodness goes back into the earth.
The problem of organic waste going to landfill is an issue which many local councils are tackling. Click here to read about what the Blue Mountains City Council has been doing to tackle its waste problem.
Aside from benefiting the environment, when I spoke to a number of edible gardeners, the widespread use of pesticides in commercially grown fruit and vegetables was another major driver behind the decision to grow your own.
While debate rages amongst scientists and researchers about what levels of pesticides are safe for human consumption as is discussed here and here, knowing where your food has come from provides piece of mind, not to mention often a better taste.
Cost is another factor to think about, with this article in the Sydney Morning Herald showing that a family of four can be $295.71 better off a year from setting up a garden rather than buying salad vegetables from Woolies.
This year, Susanne’s Edible Garden Trail grew to include 45 gardens from Lapstone to Lithgow and brought visitors from across Sydney and the Mountains, with one open garden in Leura attracting over 350 visitors.
“There seemed to be a wonderful exchange which benefited both the gardeners and the visitors,” said Susanne.
This year’s Edible Garden Trail also raised $12,000, which will be used to fund a number of school and community garden projects throughout the Blue Mountains.
To sign up for next year’s Edible Garden Trail, which will be held in March 2020, email Susanne at firstname.lastname@example.org or tune into Susanne’s radio show ‘Green Thumbs’ which is on every Wednesday from 9-10am on Radio Blue Mountains.