SOCIAL BENEFITS TO PLANTING GARDENS
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.