A kids vegie garden on the verge

The end of day 1

The start of a kids vegie garden on the verge

We were inspired by The Transition Streets Challenge to create a vegie garden on the verge for kids in our Street. Cathy discussed the idea with Jasmine and Alexa, and they created invitations for kids in the streets.

We had our first working bee yesterday: 14 kids and nine parents were there for some or all of the afternoon. Cathy had done a lot of planning and preparation, which allowed us to get a lot done.

The dirt pile

The dirt pile

It was great to see everybody getting into it. The kids ranged in age from 3 (who didn’t stay long) to 12, and worked really well. I think some of the parents were quite surprised! Quite a few kids stayed for the whole afternoon (1:00 – 5:00 pm). As with any kids’ project there was plenty of playing as well as working – a pile of dirt is great for all sorts of games!

We weren’t sure how well it would go down, but the kids were really positive. We kept hearing comments like “that was SOOOO much fun”, “this was heaps more fun than I expected”, “this was really fun and it was great to meet the other kids in the street”.

Work in progress

Work in progress

The 11 school-aged kids from the street and a neighbouring street (there were a couple of friends of local kids there) went to three different schools, so they didn’t all know each other. By the end of the day they were all great friends.

After a big day yesterday, most of them are walking down to our local Farmers Market (which is normally at the showgrounds but because of another event there is at an alternative venue nearer us) this morning to buy some seedlings, and most are coming back to do some more work this afternoon.

Getting in the veggies on the verge garden.As we have a wide nature strip, our verge was over six metres wide which means that we have left a 2 metre strip for walking and .8 metre for getting out of cars. It is still a pretty big garden!

I’m sure the garden is going to make a difference to people in our street. The kids (and parents) are going to build stronger relationships (two of the parents realised they went to school together), even people without kids are going to take an interest and get to know the kids better (a few neighbours stopped by to say hi) and it is likely to lead to more social get-togethers.

Hopefully it will also encourage people to think about their food, develop an appreciation for fresh vegetables and move towards more locally grown organic food.

If you liked this post you might want to follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. What is Kids’ Vegies on the Verge?
  2. Parenting for a better world
  3. Talking with children about the environment
  4. Take a street and build a community
  5. Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Environmental sustainability, Working with communities and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A kids vegie garden on the verge

  1. Hi Niamh
    Glad to hear you were inspired.
    We didn’t get permission from Council. It can be very hard for Council’s at times to officially approve of things they actually support. We live in a risk adverse society and sometimes these things are considered too risky. Most people we know who have done these types of things have just done it. (Have you watched the talk by Ron FInley yet?) We haven’t had any possum problems – but we do have a couple of local cats who hang around.
    I’d encourage a fledgling gardener to give it a go. Yes you will make a mistakes, but that’s OK! There is also a good chance that there are people in your street who do have skills they would be willing to share.
    Cathy, who has done the vast majority of work on this, might comment on the planning she did, but she did do quite a bit of planning and preparation before hand including buying soil and other material, cutting wood for the border (using safe treated pine) and had some plants to plant.
    It did cost quite a bit to set up (around $500). A few families have given us small donations towards it. She hopes that through various events (e.g., the burger night) and selling produce it will be self funding now. Some Council’s and other groups provide small grants which could help pay for it.
    We decided not to see any funds because we hadn’t applied for formal permission.
    I hope that answers some of you questions. Let us know how it goes if you start it up.
    Don’t hesitate to ask more questions.


  2. Niamh Scully says:

    Hi Graeme, really inspired by this project. I live in Brisbane and we have a great street – we have street gatherings and halloween get-togethers. A number of the families on our street have kids going to the same school so I feel we have the beginnings of a sense of community already. I a interested though in starting something similar to this. Your council may be different but did you have to get permission to start this vegie patch? Also have you had any possum problems? Is it an attainable project for fledgling gardeners? I also would be interested in a bit more detail about the planning and preparation for the first working day and how you worked out funding the start-up costs?? If you like you could e-mail me with some of this info.


  3. Pingback: It takes a child to raise a village! | Global Network on Sustainability and Education

  4. Great project. Who would manage the spraying of fruit trees? I suppose citrus would be least problematic.


    • Narelle says:

      If you have issues, you can arm kids with a ‘soapy’ spray bottle ($2 from cheap shops)…adds to the joy of summer outdoor neighbourhood naturestrip and footpath play. We have grown citrus for years and never spray. We love the garden bugs too much!


      • Great idea Narelle. We aren’t using pesticides and fertilisers (besides organic ones). One of our aims is to encourage organic gardening and to show that it can be done.


    • Thanks Lindy. We haven’t planted fruit trees yet. If we do, we will look after it – but we would only use organic approaches.


  5. Narelle says:

    You might all be interested in asking your council for fruit trees on your naturestrip next time you have a dead, dying or absent nature strip tree. narelle Debenham http://www.naturedkids.com


    • Hi Narelle
      Cathy has spoken to a neighbour about planting some fruit trees on their naturestrip. I know some councils like to be consulted first about “suitable” trees for planting, but it is a great idea. We did hear of somebody who was told to remove them because there was risk that fruit would fall and cause a slip hazard!


      • Narelle says:

        Graeme, we are working hard to add to the recommended tree planting lists held by councils, to include food for people too. I think you will find that the gum nuts and other seed pods that fall from plants currently on the list, create the same issues. I think the logical response is to plant fruit trees for the communities that request them, then they are more likely to be harvested and used, not wasted. Keep up the great work! Narelle http://www.naturedkids.com


    • Hi Narelle
      thanks for your follow up. I’m afraid it was marked as spam! Fortunately I checked my spam and noticed it in there. I did have a quick chat with a person in Council who is promoting more tree planting and suggested they should look at more trees that produce food.


I'd love to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.