DURING the height of the floods, a visit to the supermarket was a worrying sight. The bread shelves were bare, the milk fridge empty and the fruit and vegetables section barren.
For Bruce Molloy, founder of Edible Landscapes and the Peregian Beach community garden Veggie Village, the empty shelves were simply a reminder of how reliant people are on external sources for their food.
He said these shortages and need to source outside suppliers demonstrated an area of vulnerability. But the best way to tackle this problem is simple: grow your own.
“Growing your own food is about having control in a world that’s very out of control,” Bruce said.
Bruce knows the thought of starting your own vege garden can be overwhelming, which is why he launched Veggie Village and Edible Landscapes, a small permaculture-based Sunshine Coast business that helps residents, schools and communities plan and build functional, sustainable edible gardens.
The community garden rapidly took off and today has about 80 members and 50 vege patches.
“It’s about empowering people and giving them the first steps to become self-sufficient,” Bruce said.
Householders can grow their own food in just about any backyard, no matter how much or how little space is available.
The most important thing before planting, Bruce said, was to plan.
“Most people just walk out and chuck a vege garden in without really thinking about it,” he said.
“We really encourage them to think about where they put things. For long-term success, you really need to plan.
“They don’t think about sun angles, proximity to the house, support species or compost.”
Bruce said most people put their garden at the back of the yard but this was not an ideal place.
“You do the majority of your cooking at night when it’s dark and if you want to grab something, you don’t want to have to go traipsing all over the yard looking for it,” he said.
He said gardeners also needed to be realistic as to what they could grow in our sub-tropical climate.
Bruce’s ultimate goal is for people to create self-sustaining gardening ecosystems where, ultimately, the garden looks after itself as it’s working in tune with natural principles.
For a successful, self-sustaining vege garden, Bruce advised planting varieties that had more than one use such as lemon grass which can be used a herb or cut down and used as a mulch.
“Native plants attract nectar eating birds that in turn eat a lot of insects and help with pest management. Frog ponds are also really great integrated pest management,” he said.
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