Emily is a Senior Consultant in the International team. She spends most of her time working with project teams to contextualise and implement fit-for-purpose, participatory and inclusive monitoring, evaluation and learning approaches and is passionate about capturing and sharing lessons to improve development effectiveness.
At the moment, I’m growing a range of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, zucchini, capsicums, cucumbers, raspberries and spring onions! I’ve been growing my own vegetables for a few years now, and it’s taken time to learn how to best use the space we have. Initially, I planted in different spots in the garden where we had gaps. However, these areas got varying degrees of sunlight and gave mixed results in the first year – the lettuce and carrots thrived, but I had less success with the other vegetables that year.
To increase the amount of sunlight for the plants and utilise the sides of the cemented driveway leading up to the garage, I worked with my partner (a hobby woodworker!) to build four planter boxes. Some of the plants particularly love the opportunity to grow upwards, so we added trellis-like structures to some of the boxes – which has worked particularly well for the raspberries and cucumbers! And within the past few months, we’ve implemented an automated watering system to give the plants consistency.
I continue to reflect on what works well each season, and where there are opportunities to improve. It’s important not to be too hard on yourself when things don’t work out, as there is always an opportunity to learn – and often many factors that can influence the success of our gardening adventures that are beyond our scope of control!
Do you grow food?
Whether you’re a pot of herbs in the windowsill kind of gardener, a backyard container gardener, or an entire permaculture-principled plot of land kind of home gardener, the benefits of growing some of our own food go far beyond the financial. Whether, like us, you’re part of the 52% who grow some of their own food, you’re of the 13% who’re considering starting or one of the rest who hasn’t considered it yet, we hope you found this article inspiring! Gardening is a lifelong love affair with the art of trying, succeeding, failing, learning, adapting as we go, and having another go, and another one. In many ways, it’s a great metaphor for great MEL practice! If you’re growing your own food at the moment, we’d love to hear what you’re growing, and if you have some hard-won tips and tricks for gardening success!
Sources: Australia Institute “Grow your own”: https://australiainstitute.org.au/report/grow-your-own/