How to be an inner-city farmer

By Danielle Pinkus (9Homes)

If you’ve ever tried to grow vegies, or even a pot herbs, and failed miserably you may have thrown in the towel on your dreams of grabbing your dinner ingredients straight from your garden. But, Louise FitzRoy, founder and director of From Paddock to Plate, argues anyone can grow their own fruit and vegies – whether you have a big backyard or you’re a total black thumb.

Along with increasing the flavour and nutrition of your meals, you can feel totally smug about doing your bit for the environment. “Growing your own will reduce your impact on the environment and save money that may otherwise be spent on artificial flavours and colours out of a packet,” says Louise. She shares her tips with 9Homes.

1. Plant herbs in small pots and place them in the kitchen, your windowsill or balcony so you always have fresh produce at your fingertips. Flavoursome, nutritious and healthy ingredients like tomatoes, strawberries, and lettuce will make your dishes look colourful and taste fresh.

2. Seasonality is just as important to gardeners as it is to farmers. Choose fruits, herbs, nuts and vegetables that are best suited to your environment, the climate and are most resistant to local pests and diseases. Flowering plants like broccoli, celery and garlic are known to have insect-repelling properties.

3. Large backyards can mean big vegetable gardens and lots of produce that ripens all at once and spoils before you have chance to eat it. Plant seeds in waves so that you can savour this food right throughout the growing months, and reduce food waste. For bigger backyards, raised garden beds look tidy and help to avoid lower backache!

4. If you have a surplus of produce, lucky you! Preserve the bountiful harvest (a fun project with the kids) so that you can still enjoy it out of season.

5. It’s tempting to harvest fruits and vegetables as soon as they start growing, however try to resist until at their prime as this is when the produce is most flavoursome.

Creative planting ideas:

Upcycle 
Use recycled materials and your family’s creative skills to establish your very own functional and beautiful, edible garden. For small spaces cut wine barrels in half and add wheels to move the plants between sun and shade. Refresh an old wooden ladder with a coat of paint to make a great space-saving stand for flowers, veggies, and herbs or liven up the outdoor table by cutting out a bed down the middle to plant seeds.

Do it yourself 
Rotate crops to retain the soils nutrients and to deter insect pests or disease pathogens lurking in the ground, or build a greenhouse to protect your plants from the outdoor elements and a chicken coop to protect your livestock. If you’re feeling up to the task you can build a chicken coop from scratch.

Environmental benefits:

Food miles
Less food miles means less fuel consumption. Fresh produce in a typical Australian food basket may travel a combined 21,000km – or more than half way around the world – from its origins to our kitchen tables. Reduce food miles by establishing your own ‘paddock to plate’ garden at home.

Food safety
Growing your own produce from start to finish means that you can be confident in the ‘paddock to plate’ journey of the nutritious and healthy food that you and your family are eating.

Food waste
Australians waste about four million tonnes of food annually. It’s enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks and placed end to end, the convoy would bridge the gap between Australia and New Zealand just over three times. Besides rotting food in landfill, giving off a greenhouse gas called methane, when you throw out food you also waste the water, fuel and resources it took to get that food ‘from paddock to plate’.

Food savings
Save time and money by reducing your supermarket visits.

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SUPERFOOD SERIES: Pumpkin

We’re in the middle of a full-on pumpkin flavour takeover. There’s pumpkin in your bagels, beer and coffee. Apparently Starbucks has sold more than 200 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes in the past 10 years. Even the makers of Pringles are getting in on the action. While most pumpkin-flavoured treats should be added to the once-in-a-while list, pumpkin itself (not to be confused with artificial pumpkin spice flavouring) is actually one of the healthier foods of the season. #FromPaddocktoPlate #feedyourmind

18 hours ago

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