Goodness, this June marks five years since we embarked on our adventure in urban sustainability and set about transforming a typical house and lawn into a healthy, eco friendly home with a flourishing food garden.
And what an adventure it’s been! In the early days up went the solar panels and the solar hot water, and we got busy doing some green renovations with non-toxic paint, natural floors, ceiling and wall insulation, rainwater tanks and greywater systems.
Then oh the dreaming for a delicious garden – it began! We spent about three months working out the landscape design, figuring out where each and every fruit tree and garden element would be best placed. Then with a vengeance we turf-cut the entire block in October 2007, flipped the lawn on its head and sowed green manure crops to improve the soil. Out went the swimming pool and in went the veggie patch. Our huge concrete driveway was ripped up to make way for a citrus grove, with the concrete painstakingly recycled into a mosaic style garden path that meanders through our food forest. Over time we’ve put in over 100 fruiting trees, shrubs and vines, over 50 different species with everything from avocado to white sapote.
Our local community has flourished in exciting ways over the last five years, with the passion and determination of many wonderful people. The Flame Tree Community Food Co-op and the ‘Waste-not fruit and veg swap’ were born, and community gardens are continuing to grow. Through the Illawarra Biodiversity and Local Food Strategy for Climate Change project, involving Wollongong, Kiama and Shellharbour councils with funding support from the NSW Environmental Trust, we helped create the Illawarra Edible Garden Guide and community fruit tree groves.
We’ve put down roots in this little piece of paradise reclaimed, and in our community. We can’t wait to see what the next five years, and fifty years here will bring.
It’s been wonderful sharing our adventures with you through this website over the past half a decade, and we look forward to sharing many more years together.
For our fifth birthday celebrations we’re giving away a copy of the new ABC Organic Gardener Essential Guide, issue 5 which is all about creating a great food garden. To be the lucky winner, just leave a comment on this post letting us know what you’d like to hear more about on this blog. We’ll randomly select the winner in two weeks on 8 July, so check back in then! Good luck!
8 July update - Thanks so much to everyone for all your lovely comments and fantastic suggestions for furture blog posts! It is this wonderful feedback that keeps us blogging away, and we'll try our best to post about the suggested topics down the track. The lucky randomly selected winner was "Mandy" - congratulations and we hope you enjoy the Organic Gardener Guide!