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PASSIONATE SUSTAINABILITY ADVOCATE, SUSANNE RIX, LAUNCHED THE WORLD'S FIRST EDIBLE GARDEN TRAIL IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
TO INSPIRE LOCAL GARDENERS TO OVERGROW THE SYSTEM.
Susanne Rix became hooked on food growing back in the 1970s when she got her first garden and began reading about permaculture. “Once you start growing your own food you begin to learn what will grow where, what plants will attract good bugs, how to companion plant, and you start to realise that all of the stuff that we get in the supermarket is probably sprayed and fertilized,” Susanne explains. “It makes you much more appreciative of home-grown organic foods.”
Susanne fondly remembers the feasts of pesticide
free mulberries and Warrigal greens she used to collect from her neighbourhood. “At one stage, when I was very broke, I essentially ate from my garden and the streets. My young daughter and I were on our own so we’d forage.”
When Susanne moved to the Blue Mountains, about seven years ago, she discovered a community with a strong gardening culture but she also began to notice that many beautiful gardens were maintained at an environmental cost, with what she describes as “a Roundup border”.
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"WOULDN'T IT BE GOOD IF PEOPLE DISCOVERED THAT EDIBLE GARDENS CAN PROVIDE BEAUTY AS WELL AS HEALTHY FOOD, AND THAT FOOD GROWERS ARE ALSO SAVING MONEY, REDUCING FOOD MILES AND CONTRIBUTING TO A MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET?"
“I visited one garden that was absolutely beautiful visually, but there was not a frog to be heard,” she recalls. “However right next door there was a cacophony of frogs.
“Sadly, many widely-used poisons kill not only the pests, but frogs, bees, good bugs and all manner of vital nutrients in the soil. When you grow edibles, you are far more cautious about using poisons to kill weeds and pests.”
This got Susanne thinking: “Wouldn’t it be good if people discovered that edible gardens can
provide beauty as well as healthy food, and that food growers are also saving money, reducing food miles and contributing to a more
Susanne set to work recruiting over 30 like-minded participants to open their gardens to the public in March 2018 and the Blue Mountains Edible Garden Trail was born. “I believe it is a world first,” she says. “I searched the internet and found garden trails, art trails and food safaris, but no edible garden trails.”
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"I'M HOPING THIS WILL BECOME A GLOBAL PHENOMENON WITH PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD OPENING THEIR GARDENS"
The Edible Garden Trail provides an opportunity for green thumbs and greenhorns alike to talk to other gardeners about their food growing methods and learn real life skills. Skills like how companion planting reduces pests, how mulching protects the soil and composting brings soil to life, how to
save seed to maintain food security, and how keeping chooks and bees contributes to a productive edible garden. Ultimately, visitors to the Edible Garden Trail can learn how to create their own edible haven.
Many of Susanne’s generation grew up with gardens filled with fruit trees and vegetables. “We used to love watching bean seeds emerging from the soil and later eating them straight off the vine,” she recalls. “People are now wanting their children to experience the benefits of that kind of lifestyle.
“I’m hoping this will become a global phenomenon with people all over the world opening their gardens not just for show, but for sharing intelligent, thoughtful, sustainable food
This edited article originally appeared on the Blue Mountains Food Co-op website and is written by Prue Adams.
The Edible Garden Trail is on Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th March 2021.