Almost five years ago I moved into an old weatherboard house built in the forties. The garden consisted of lawn, hippeastrums, two ugly conifers standing to attention at the front, three enormous mangoes in the back, a dwarf orange, dead lemon and a Hills Hoist presiding over a vast amount of wasted growing space.

I attacked the garden with gusto, making no dig beds and starting some compost. I was going for the traditional ‘garden beds with crop rotation’ idea but very soon realised that with my poor compacted soil and blisteringly hot summers, I would need to do something different. That is when I discovered food forests.

I was vaguely aware of the idea but had associated food foresting with ‘living on the land’ – i.e. having acreage. It had not really occurred to me that this could be done on a small suburban block. I started to think about it and then, after doing a workshop at Djanning Garden at The Channon, decided that a small scale food forest was what I needed. So, halfway through my garden renovation I changed course.

Five years on, the backyard is finally starting to resemble something not unlike a food forest. Still very much a work in progress, but as habitat the garden has been transformed already – the amount of wildlife that uses the garden has steadily increased over time and now I have a huge range of birds, lizards, frogs, insects, spiders; and probably other things I don’t even know about. Not to mention worms – there were none when I moved in and now there are spadefuls.

(Although I have done a lot of the heavy lifting myself, there are some people who have helped me enormously along the way, namely Neil and Geoff, but most especially Les who did so much of the hard work that everywhere I look I am reminded of his love and support)

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