I do love growing vegies, but I'm a very lazy gardener. Nothing other than garlic, silverbeet or the hardiest herbs can survive in desert of neglect that is the Baklover garden. It's nice to grow stuff but I can only eat so much silverbeet pie before I begin to hanker for something else.
Over tea and community, trade it for an armful of diverse bits and bobs, from local feijoas...
...to potted strawberries, gleaned from the Braybrook community garden by its custodian, the fabulous Braybrook Sprouts permaculture playgroup...
...to veritable armfuls of Warrigal greens. This is an indigenous plant that is slightly succulent in nature, by which I mean it stores some water in its fleshy stems and leaves. You can see it growing wild in Pipemakers Park down by the Maribrynong. It grows like a weed because, well, it is one, but weeds generally have like 1000% more vitamins and minerals than the vegies we like to grow in their place. You need to cook it as it has a higher oxalate content (the compound that makes rhubarb leaves toxic) but I have grown and eaten a lot of it and am still here.
There are even seeds (many home harvested and heritage)...
...and seedlings. If you sow seeds direct and feel bad about thinning them out, pot up the excess and bring 'em to the swap!
The Western Urban Harvest swap meets are run by The Good Seeds community garden group who advocate for more community gardens in the municipality. They're currently working on trying to get the vacant land opposite Yarraville Square shopping centre turned into a community garden. They also run workshops, particularly focusing on reusing discarded materials. Check them out here.
If you are interested in all things green in the western suburbs, the group to plug into is POW or Permaculture Out West.
Here you can connect to "Fermentation Fridays" where groups of locals muddle happily through experiments in fermentation, including ginger beer and feta cheese!
I've lived here for nearly six years and feel so connected. We never fail to see people we knew wherever we go, and many of those people are connected through multiple avenues, be they POW, the very active and lovely local Australian Breastfeeding Association group, kinder and school. This is a great community to be a part of. If you crave more connection (or just want to get rid of some of those bloody lemons), come down to the Western Urban Harvest swap meet tomorrow, June 2, from 10 am to 11.30 am at Bristow Reserve in Pilgrim Street Seddon. I may even see you there.
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