The Growing Story
I found myself on this growing journey by complete chance, or fate as I like to believe. When I was younger I always dreamt of a farm with lots of animals however as I got older, Brendan (who I met quite early in my life) and I lived a life in complete contrast to the one we live now... one of constant travel abroad and packing up and moving. When our first baby was on his way, I longed to own a home for the very first time and put the travel life on hold. Our very first home was a small yet spacious three bedroom unit in the outer Eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
The previous tenants had been there for seventeen years and when we moved in, we inherited a small yet wonderful veggie patch. Filled with strawberries and grapes, potatoes and lettuce, we kept the patch and tended to it and as I discovered, a new love was born. Only two years in, and another baby later, we sold up for a house on a block just shy of a quarter acre slightly further out. Two days before getting the keys to our property we found out I was very newly pregnant with baby number three. With a one and three year old already I was a little anxious and added to that was an exceptionally bad pregnancy filled with illness and insomnia.
I started to find my peace in the garden. We had inherited a beautifully established garden with our second home, one filled to the brim with well established ornamental shrubs; it was lovely but I dreamt of another veggie patch, much bigger than our first one. I became a crazed pregnant woman on a mission. While my other two children played around me, I sawed, shovelled, wheelbarrowed, shovelled some more, yanked, pulled, dug and dug and then sawed some more until I cleared all the back established garden and left nothing but a big empty space for what would become my veggie patch.
The garden had become my place of mental clarity. When I was out there, I was focused on nothing else but building my new edible garden. It was wonderful. It was the best form of therapy I could have ever asked for, for when I say I had a bad pregnancy, I mean I had a BAD pregnancy and my husband and first two children deserve a reward for putting up with me! Thankfully the grey cloud that surrounded me disappeared the moment my daughter was born. Being more able bodied, I kept the momentum of building the garden I dreamt of... I envisioned overflowing herbs and fruit trees, vibrant colourful flowers, a walk in veggie patch with a picket fence and an archway entrance covered in roses...
Pulling out an established garden and rebuilding it is an exceptionally daunting thing to do. The garden was lovely but it just wasn't my style so I kept the few plants that I loved and re-homed everything that was able to be moved, mostly to my mother, who is also quite the green thumb! The remaining got chopped down. With every plant that I pulled out and cut down, the more bare everything became, and the more bare everything became, the more doubt that crept in. For you see, a garden is a masterpiece that unfolds slowly... and I had to keep reminding myself of that... so, slowly I kept moving towards my vision.
It's been nearly exactly three years to the day and our home food forest is on it's way; with twenty one fruit trees and more to come, berry shrubs and herbs in every corner of the yard and our garden beds always filled with fresh seasonal produce. I've achieved more than I could have possibly imagined I would have on the day that I started, but let's be honest, a gardeners work is never done. There is still so much to do.
The backstory. . .
My early childhood was spent living in an inner city suburb in an old original home. My parents immigrated from Lebanon in the early seventies and I was born, youngest of five, in the early eighties. Home grown edible gardens were so common amongst the ethnic community that running around with all the other neighbourhood kids, climbing over fences and into fruit trees, eating the fruit sitting in up in the branches of the tree, made up a fundamental part of my childhood.
We may have been living in the concrete surrounds of the inner city but home grown food was something that every member of our multicultural community just did. If I had an upset tummy, my mum would wander into our garden, pick an assortment of herbs, come in, boil it up and serve it to me cooled down as a home made herbal tea remedy. It was so normal; all of our family and friends had home grown gardens, so much so that I didn't even consider some families didn't.
These younger years have been etched into my mind as some of the fondest memories I have. Spring and Summer evenings were spent bare foot climbing trees until the mosquitoes would eat you alive and you'd hear your mums voice calling out your name to come inside. When I started on my own home growing journey, I became more connected to these memories than ever before and I longed to fill the lives of my children with the same cherished moments.