Our Lyttleton garden is chugging along, relatively slowly at the moment. Our sugarsnaps and snowpeas are loving the cold, and so are the broadbeans and radicchio. Potatoes need to be kept warm with straw and hessian in order to keep producing tubers, but we are able to keep them going here in the mid-mountains, where the climate is considered warm temperate, bordering on cool temperate.
In the lower Mountains, where the climate is warm temperate, bordering on subtropical, potatoes are going strong, my sweet potatoes don't seem to want to die back, but gingers and turmeric have finally gone to sleep.
In the cold temperate upper mountains, apple, stonefruit and cherry trees are getting plenty of chill hours to be setting fruit. Only hardy, frost tolerant veggies are growing at the moment.
The incredible diversity of climates in the Blue Mountains is an incredible asset, as it means we can grow a diversity of foods within a relatively short distance. Our backyard growers from the lower Mountains are bringing us ginger and turmeric at the moment, mid-Mountains growers are providing us with loads of citrus, whereas upper Mountains growers are keeping us stocked with apples. What a wonderful, resilient space we have the potential to create!
The financial, environmental and social benefits of growing local organic food are quite apparent: less food miles, more earth stewardship and building social relationships among locals. Our 'office cubicle' way of living is making us lonely, depressed, and anxious, and people in our peri-urban environment are slowly reacting to this and things are changing. Social media groups are re-establishing local swap and barter systems, and some of us are keen to take this back to our streets and local spaces.
I see this at Springwood Community Garden, as older members, who walk up the hill from the local aged care facility, bump into young mums and/or dads, who feel they need to be out and about. The inter-generational relationships I have seen come out of a simple communal garden space are immense and important. We have forgotten how important inter-generational contact is for our wellbeing.
In our little veggie patch and shop, we are striving to empower people to grow their own, to come to our meet ups and exchange knowledge and experience, to come to their local shop rather than a supermarket, and get food produced as locally as possible.