Day 5

Now when I mentioned going shopping last post, I bet you thought you’d be going to a store – I did too, but then I realised I’d almost overlooked something obvious. It’s time to look in:

~Your backyard~

What’s growing there? Go out and take a look right now, or as soon to now as possible. I’m talking a full perimeter inspection. You might be surprised to find something growing that you least expected – in my last sharehouse I found a bumper crop of parsley down the side of the garage where no one ever went. I also discovered that the bitter tasting plant that I’d mistaken for a weed for the first six months was actually lemon sorrel, and from then on I was never short of greens to pop into a sandwich.

Speaking of weeds and greens, I’d like to acquaint you with an untapped source of vitamins just waiting to liven up your smoothie, sandwich or salad. Nutritious, delicious, and freely available, edible weeds is where its at! The best local go-to on the matter is Eat that weed. Check it out and be wowed!

In case you too are living in a flat, or have no garden, all is not lost. Take yourself on a walk around the block. Get to know your neighbourhood, but better yet, get to know your neighbour’s fencelines. It kills me when I see three sprigs of rosemary packaged and for sale at $3 a pop when there is a lifetime supply of rosemary growing along the fenceline just four doors down the road (or better yet, in someone’s verge garden!).

If you’ve walked past a fruit tree bursting with fruit or strewn over the lawn in a neighbour’s front yard, chances are they don’t like grapefruit and they’d be more than amenable to you taking some so that it doesn’t go to waste – but please knock and ask first! You might make a new friend and you could have access to a lifetime supply of lemons. If you’re growing something yourself or can make a mean brownie then it would also be a nice gesture to share it with them too – you could pay them a visit or just leave it on their porch or in their letterbox. Zero waste – maximum heart!

A great local food initiative run in Castlemaine is Growing Abundance. Community members contact the group to visit their home and pick their unused fruit. A third goes to the householder, a third goes to the volunteers and a third goes to the community. I’ve not found anything similar in Melbourne but I love the concept and if anyone was interested in making it happen here it would be a fantastic project!

Why not grow some food yourself? You’ve already taken at least a preliminary look at your fridge and pantry so you should have an idea of the staples you use. If you’ve no garden, start small. Get yourselves some herbs, and I don’t mean from the supermarket or Kmart. Their plants have been grown in hothouses for maximum growth in the least amount of time and when they get to your house they inevitably suffer shock at being in ambient temperatures and that is why they so often die. It’s not you, it’s them! Find yourself a nursery and see the difference. An excellent choice is Ceres Environment Park in East Brunswick. It’s worth a day trip just to explore all their treasures and great for kids, too.

Finally, you could also find or join a local community garden in Hume or in Moreland – good for eaters and growers!

Zero waste food awaits you, and it doesn’t always require you going to a store, spending your pennies or having to scour the suburbs for a non-packaged, fair trade, locally produced item. It could literally be growing on your doorstep!

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