It’s been a busy weekend. Our nature strip has been sitting in partial completion for too long so this was the weekend to actually finish it. We got another load of wicking bed componentry except this time we have chosen to go for an aggregate (I believe they call it 1minus) rather than scoria. Partially to try something new but mostly because digging scoria was a fairly unpleasant experience that I have heard likened to digging square marbles. I scraped back the grass and levelled the nature strip which is actually quite a challenge since the footpath is a good 100mm higher than the curb-side.
The next two beds went in and were, over the course of the weekend, wicked! I planted out the second bed with a combination of silverbeet, lettuce, coriander, broccoli, cabbage and dill but left the last box only half filled with soil so that I can plant potatoes and mound them up to the top of the box as they grow. I must admit initially I was going to make a mobile bed out of a shopping trolley lined with hessian that I accumulated from CERES. My hope was to secret it away down our alley way until it was ready and then wheel it out on to the street and create a potato lucky dip proudly sponsored (albeit unknowingly) by the supermarket giants. I couldn’t really find a good place to put it though so I abandoned this (for now!).
So now we have all our boxes in place and all that is left is some of the peripheral native planting and mulching to get rid of what is some seriously hard core grass. We also need to decorate the boxes into which we are going to incorporate another blackboard and a handprint design where all the kids on the street will be invited to make a handprint in different colours. I like this because it not only links to indigenous art but also set ownership of the boxes firmly in the ‘hands’ (oh that’s bad!) of the street.
I’m also going to print out a flyer that I will attach to our tree and signpost. I initially never intended to do this but the conversations that we keep having with passersby and neighbours alike have made me aware just how embedded ‘private’ property is. The number one question we get is “wont people just steal it?” No of course not; that’s the point, besides which you can’t steal something that belongs to us all!
But this is just the start, the next phase of the plan is to facilitate the building of boxes for other neighbours. We already have two keen households but I would love to get at least a dozen up and down the street, sort of like a streetside organic shopping aisle. So that brings me, in an awkward segue sort of way into promoting an awesome competition that is being run through ‘Reclaim the Curb’ (http://reclaimthecurb.org).
We like food fresh, fair and free. We like curb-sides that enrich and connect people. We’d like to support people that are inspired by the same things.
Reclaim the Curb, with support from Cultivating Community, Energy for the People and One Planet Living is making a minimum of $1,750 available to share across 3 exciting projects that put people and food, together, on curb-sides across Australia.
We need you to:
- Get in touch with people on your street (the more the better) and find out if they like the idea of fruit trees, flower beds, hedges, fresh herbs, seating or other useful things being set-up on their street
- Agree on what you would like set-up (in a general sense) and where these things might go (in an even more general sense)
- Commit to paying for some plants and looking after them (harvest, prune, mulch, water) once they go in (a budget no more than $300 should easily be enough)
- Get in touch with us and let us know what your street is thinking
- Check if what you want to do fits your local council guidelines (it’s up to you to take notice of the guidelines or not)
- Sit down with you to design the details including advice on what to grow and how – we have permaculture designers, industrial designers and urban bush carpenters on our team
- Source plants and materials
- Involve you and your street in building something great that you can all enjoy together – see urban bush carpenters for how we do this
So if you are reading about what we are doing and thinking that you could do the same (or better) then why not use this as that final bit of motivation to get you going. I’ve been amazed how the concept of public space being public has really inspired and energized people. I heard the growing of your own food recently described as a ‘gateway experience’. That once you are aware of growing food then pretty soon you’re thinking about how to cook it? Where the rest of your food comes from? Why carrots straight out of the ground taste completely different to the ones you’ve been buying for years? Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up thinking about how broken our food systems are and what we (the ones who fund it) can do to make it more resilient.
I can honestly say that this foray out into public gardening has not only been great fun but also immensely rewarding in terms of community engagement, and we’re only just getting started. So get your community feet on, go and chat with your neighbours and lets get this happening all over the globe.