The world’s first edible garden trail is coming to the Blue Mountains on the weekend of March 3-4, with more than 30 edible gardens from Lapstone to Hartley open to visitors.
The Blue Mountains Edible Garden Festival and Trail is the brainchild of Wentworth Falls resident Susanne Rix, who has been growing food since she got her first little garden in the 1970s.
“Once you start growing your own food you begin to learn what will grow where, what plants will attract 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 fertilised to death. It makes you much more appreciative of organic foods,” she said.
“At one stage when I was very broke, I essentially ate from my garden and from the streets. My young daughter and I were on our own – my husband had died – and we’d forage.”
She remembers the pesticide-free mulberries and warrigal greens they found in their neighbourhood.
After moving to the Mountains, she discovered a community with a strong gardening culture, but also began to notice that many beautiful gardens had a “Round-up border”.
One she visited looked lovely but there was not a frog to be heard. “And right next door was this cacophony of frogs. And so it wasn’t the environment, it was something that was going on in that big garden that meant there were no 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.”
She decided to encourage people to put beauty and edible together, which is how the Blue Mountains Edible Garden Festival and Trail was born.
Visitors to the trail will see how easy it is to start growing their own food. They will be able to talk to the gardeners about their methods for companion planting to reduce pests, mulching to protect the soil, composting to bring the soil to life and seed saving to maintain food security.
Trail tickets are now available at the Blue Mountains Food Co-op Little Shop, The Bog Bean, Gleebooks, Fed Deli, Glenbrook Village Nursery, Lyttleton Stores and online at www.lyttletonstores.com.au/edible-garden-festival.
The festival is sponsored by Bendigo Bank and auspiced by Slow Food Blue Mountains.