Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - LIFESTYLE - Janita Singh

GROW­ING your own pro­duce is a great way to con­nect more deeply with your com­mu­nity, gar­den de­signer Richard Unsworth says.

Unsworth, who cre­ated out­door store Gar­den Life, has put his pas­sion on to pa­per with his first book Gar­den Life. It cel­e­brates ev­ery as­pect of gar­den­ing and how it brings peo­ple to­gether.

“It’s heart­warm­ing to see the pop­u­lar­ity of school pro­grams (like Stephanie Alexan­der’s Kitchen Gar­den Pro­gram) and a plethora of home vegie gar­den­ing books, play­ing a part in the re­vival of in­ter­est in grow­ing more of the food we eat,’’ he says.

“So many of our gar­dens are still ster­ile and un­pro­duc­tive plots.”

If you have the space, Unsworth rec­om­mends plant­ing an ed­i­ble gar­den in your back or front yard. If you don’t have your own space, think about band­ing to­gether with like-minded neigh­bours to start one.

“It might mean trans­form­ing the so-called ‘na­ture’ strips out­side,” he says.

“I’m not talk­ing about be­com­ing to­tally self-suf­fi­cient, with three pigs and a sheep in the backyard, but you could start with a rose­mary bush, or use thyme as a ground cover ... flat-leaf pars­ley and rocket are so use­ful and easy to grow among other plants.

“Plant some radish seeds with your chil­dren ... like my Dad did with me; they will cher­ish the mem­ory as I do.”

If you don’t have space, Unsworth sug­gests com­mu­nity gar­dens.

“It has the added ben­e­fit of bring­ing peo­ple to­gether. My in­volve­ment with the James Street Re­serve Com­mu­nity Gar­den (in Red­fern) has re­ally made me ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of be­ing part of a com­mu­nity,’’ he says.

“When I see peo­ple com­ing to­gether and con­nect­ing in the space, and hear chat­ter be­tween peo­ple who wouldn’t usu­ally meet, the so­cial ben­e­fits are ob­vi­ous. You can’t un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of projects like these.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence of grow­ing food is a rich and re­ward­ing one, which not only pro­vides us food but al­lows us to con­nect with each other.

– Richard Unsworth

Au­thor Richard Unsworth, pic­tured in his rhubarb patch, en­joys harvest time.

From above left, Unsworth’s book Gar­den Life, a mix of fo­liage in front of Unsworth’s house and the au­thor’s niece, Amy, who loves harvest time.

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