Planting vegies on the verge

by Beth Mylius

I decided to grow veggies on the verge as I needed more space and this was the place with the best sun. This required specific holes dug through the limestone to create about 15 holes which were rather like pots in the ground.  I started the garden 2 and half years ago first planting zucchinis and rhubarb.

While I was doing the first planting a man on a push bike stopped and said it was a good idea but asked ‘Do you expect to get anything from the garden?’ This made me think and I replied that if people took things because they wanted to eat it I would not mind but if they destroyed it I would not be pleased. I had really challenged myself as this is what I have had to come to terms with.

Food

As I tended the garden each day, weeding, watering or gathering produce I discovered that I was meeting people who would stop for a chat. It was always positive saying it is good idea, asking what particular plants were and several times people said that this was the only time they had stopped to talk with someone in the street. In the first year my good neighbor came over one morning and thanked me for the 2 very fresh zucchinis they had for dinner the night before! I occasionally noticed that Zucchinis were gone but not too many.

In the last 12 months more has been taken – 6 or 7 capsicum, all the spinach cut from a pot, then all the rhubarb had been cut and one plant pulled out. Three or four eggplant plants have been pulled out and taken away. There has never been a mess left behind so whatever is taken is used. I have been challenged to feel that this is really “sharing”.

When I told my son that I chose to plant things that people mostly did not like such as broad bean and rhubarb his laugh was another challenge! Am I really prepared to share?

FoodI put in a small herb garden with labels showing the nutritional values of herbs especially purslane and amaranth. I invited people to try a little. This has lead to a lot of conversation with people coming by including a man with his three grandchildren coming in to “ask Beth” on Christmas Day as we were about to dish up our Christmas Dinner. And then vey politely the Council head gardener came and said that I could not have a structure. He would approve the veggie growing. So I took away the wooden box and left the signs.

So I am still gardening on the verge and hope that one day I meet the person taking quite a lot of “my” produce. Is it mine? After all it is Council land. I am working on that – I guess I will have changed my paradigm when I am fully prepared to share.

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4 thoughts on “Planting vegies on the verge

  1. This stimulates lots of thought Beth. Unley SCSA group have just planted up a small verge for one of our members. Thankfully Unley Council are very receptive to verge-planting. I understand a few Councils aren’t, and have heard of one which actually pulled stuff out. Here’s hoping we can encourage our Councils to see the value of verge planting and that others will be encouraged to follow suit.

  2. Hi Beth. All communities need more people like you to show the way forward! It’s telling that people are stopping and talking – you’re giving people a reason to interact. You’re helping to create ‘sustainable community’. I think it’s great that people are sharing your produce – what better way to gather fresh food? Perhaps you could put a chalk-board in the garden, asking for donations of seedlings? Keep it up – I’m sure you’ll meet your invisible foodie one day!
    Tricia

  3. Thank you Beth – a story preparing potential verge-gardeners to expect a degree of exploitation from passers-by! And wouldn’t it be great if more people in the street planted different edibles on their verges (organic methods, of course!), and the street became a free-for-all swap and share, balancing out the ‘takers’ and the ‘givers’, and adding more diversity to available food. And there’s also the potential for the verge to be one for passers-by alone (which one of our members is proposing). We’ll see what happens.

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