Brisbane City Council has partnered with Grow It Local to encourage residents to learn how to save money by minimising food waste and growing their own food through a series of dedicated online workshops and live cooking and gardening demonstrations.
In the lead up to the first cooking demonstration, we spoke with Grow It Local co-founder, Paul West, to find out more.
Education through empowerment
Paul West rose to fame hosting the River Cottage Australia series and is a passionate advocate for growing your own food at home. Grow It Local was formed to encourage people to grow their own food regardless of the amount of space available to them, harnessing the potential of courtyards, balcony gardens and backyards.
Paul says gardening and food are lifelong passions, having worked in permaculture, farm and hospitality since his early years. His career took a sharp turn when he was offered the opportunity to host River Cottage Australia. It exposed him to the media industry and sparked his interest in how his experience in these vastly different fields could work together.
"I've always been passionate about encouraging other people to try their hand at growing their own food."
The Grow It Local idea sprouted, and fast forward a few years later, it has taken off, with Paul spreading awareness about the cause, and encouraging as many people as possible to get their hands dirty and learn how to grow their own food at home.
Keen to get started, but don't know how?
Paul says his parents were always in the garden and he learnt from a young age how to start growing food for the family.
"I was lucky that I was taught early about growing our own food, but not everyone gets this experience. So that's why we run workshops for all levels of gardening experience. From beginners to experienced growers, there's always something new to learn."
For anyone starting out, Paul's best tip is to jump onto the Grow It Local website and browse the numerous blogs and on-demand workshops about gardening for beginners.
They also run an 'ask me anything' session on the last Wednesday of every month on Instagram. Follow them to tune in to ask your questions to one of their gardening gurus!
Think you're too tight on space to grow a garden? Even with a small amount of room, you can grow your own food and start enjoying your very own home grown produce. Grow It Local has resources for all gardeners, from balcony growers to suburban backyard farmers.
Reasons to start growing
1. Save money
Paul's best tip to help you save money is to grow your own food. You may not be able to grow everything, but every little bit counts. It could also save you a trip to the supermarket for that forgotten vegetable - grab it from your own garden!
2. Reduce waste
By growing your own food, you cut back on waste from supermarket packaging. It also allows you to pick what you need, when you need it.
Composting is another great way to cut back on waste sent to landfill and create nutrients for your garden. All vegetable scraps, fruit peels, grass clippings and coffee grounds can go into your compost bin. Don't forget about Council's $70 compost rebate program to help set up or upgrade home composting.
4. Grow exactly what you want and enjoy
With a garden in your own backyard, you can grow what you enjoy. One of Paul's favourite meals uses fresh ingredients from his garden. Tomatoes, ripened and warm from the sun, sliced and served up on sourdough toast with fresh basil (straight from his garden), cucumber and lots of salt, pepper and olive oil. Yum!
5. Make healthy eating easier
Be inspired to eat produce straight from your garden. Growing your own vegetables is not only satisfying, but helps you to make healthier food choices, eating straight from the source.
6. Enjoy fresher produce
Enjoy vegetables, fruits and herbs straight from your garden - it doesn't get any fresher than that! Paul says nothing compares to the aromas of freshly picked herbs - far better than the ones you buy from the store. Herbs are one of the simplest ways you can incorporate home grown produce into your everyday cooking. And if you don't have a herb garden at home, check out whether your local library's community garden has any fresh herbs for dinner.