I wish I could say that I always do things on a whim, that I act with little consideration for fear of consequences. I’d love to naturally be a free wheelin’ kind of guy, but I’m not really, I’m often calculated, considered, I do things with purpose, reason, logic. I’m the complete opposite to my partner. She is the essence of living dangerously. In many ways she is a caged bird, she is after all, my dreamy hot hippy lady friend that believes in things I don’t understand, burns incense, listens to rad music and would prefer to be on the road sleeping in dive motels and hoary not knowing where tomorrows adventure will lead. Sure sometimes I let myself go, it’s not like I’m totally robotic, but really letting myself go is a rarity, something that I am working on. Recently I decided to do something that isn’t fully considered. I’m just doing instead of over thinking and I’m totally ok with it.
A few months ago we moved into a modest 3 bedroom weatherboard in our Daylesford town. We’ve been living on the outskirts of town for many years now, but with kids and school it seems smart to be in town. Daylesford is beautiful country town one which melts my heart with it’s beauty. I wish I possessed poetic language to romantically describe it, but don’t believe I do. Suffice to say it has pretty old buildings, a quaint main street and a vibrant community. In our little country town there are a handful of community gardens that have been set up as places where anyone can pitch in, grow food and harvest what they like. I believe the one lose rule is that if you take something you should put something back. What an amazing concept of balance. Imagine that approach adopted on a broader scale of things for human existence. Philosophical pondering aside, one of these gardens has been a little neglected for a while. For what ever reason it’s just not attracting much activity. I’m not sure how many years this particular garden has been in existence but for years I’ve driven past it wondering about it. I’ve never been drawn in enough to pull over and check it out, I’m always on the way to somewhere and I’ve always had a vegetable garden of my own. But it needs some help, and I’ve felt this urge to do something about it.
I contacted the community garden guardian and they where happy enough for someone to get stuck into it. They said something along the lines of “that garden needs a champion” I figure that someone could be me. A few weeks went by and some serious life events happened, and now here I am, in a community garden doing things I didn’t expect I’d be doing, I’m bringing a community garden to life to share with whoever wants to share it.
From a practical standpoint, there’s a bit of clean up work to get the patch up to scratch. Someone must have loved artichokes because the garden is full of them! But as much as they look amazing, they don’t provide enough food for the real estate they take up, so my first job has been to dig up quite a few to make way from more productive crops.
The soil is rich, red volcanic, and full of promise. There are established fruit trees and berries, of which I have no idea the variety because it’s dead winter and there’s not a leaf to be seen just sad looking sticks pointing to the heavens. There’s a few woody herbs hanging on notably Rosemary, Mint, Thyme and Sage, and a pretty decent size rhubarb plant, oh and many strawberries, which I’m sure the kids will plunder over spring and summer. Whenever I start work in an unfamiliar garden it takes a full season or two to get used to it’s personality, all those things like soil, pests, position, wind all of these factors determine what a garden is willing to provide. It takes a while to figure out which plants work better than others. I have no idea what pests there are, I’m assuming the usual suspects of snails, slugs, possums, rats and humans. Being right in the guts of the community skate park I’m preparing for a bit of teenage destruction. Which I know will be heart breaking but maybe it might be an opportunity to be able to get through to some kids about food, maybe even their parents. That's not really my ultimate plan, to begin with I just want to grow. I want to turn this thing from a neglected garden into something absolutely thriving and amazing. At least this is something I know how to do, all I need is determination, dedication and elbow grease. All of which I have no problems with. I also have some time, not much, but enough to allocate some time to the skate park patch each week.
I’m not sure where this project will take me. I have no expectations other than growing some veg, of which of course I will be harvesting and cooking lots of. I’d be mad not to.
There is only one thing that I’m imagining as an outcome from this project. A moment, a warm afternoon in the garden cooking for people, (hopefully some complete strangers) with produce that I’ve grown right under their noses in the neighbourhood, a small charcoal fire with grilled eggplant, zucchini, caramelised cherry tomatoes, and buttery build spuds. That will be a beautiful moment. Anything else is a bonus. It’s a nice feeling just doing something, with little plans for an outcome other than sharing.