SUSANNE RIX: GROWING FOOD FOR SUSTAINABILITY

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SUSANNE RIX: GROWING FOOD FOR SUSTAINABILITY
27th February, 2018

Co-op member Susanne Rix is a passionate advocate for food growing and sustainability and the creator the Blue Mountains Edible Garden Festival and Trail on the weekend of 3–4 March.

Susanne has been growing food since she got her first little garden and began reading about permaculture 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.”

Susanne fondly remembers the feasts of pesticide-free mulberries and warrigal greens they found in their neighbourhood: “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. Now it’s called foraging.”

Image: A recent harvest from Susanne’s own 1 x 2 metre veg patch.

Moving to the Blue Mountains about six years ago, Susanne discovered a community with a strong gardening culture, but also began to notice that many beautiful gardens were maintained at an environmental cost, with what Susanne describes as “a Round-up border”.

One garden she visited, “was absolutely beautiful visually, but 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.”

This got her thinking, “wouldn’t it be good if people started to think in terms of putting beauty and edible together. Then they’d start to think more in terms of sustainability for gardens. They’d discover that edible gardens can provide beauty and healthy food, and that food growers are also saving money, reducing food miles and contributing to a more sustainable planet.”

And so, 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, with inspiration for first steps and long-term visions in the array of gardens on the trail – from new gardens on bad soil to well-established large gardens with hundred-year-old trees, and everything in between.

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, seed saving to maintain food security, and how keeping chooks and bees contributes to productive edible gardens.

For more information about the trail and all festival events see Blue Mountains Edible Garden Festival.

To plan your trail route with the Blue Mountains Edible Garden Trail Map.

Trail tickets are available at the Blue Mountains Food Co-op Little Shop, The Bog Bean, Gleebooks Blackheath, Fed Deli, Glenbrook Village Nursery, Lyttleton Stores and online.

The festival is sponsored by Katoomba and Upper Blue Mountains Bendigo Bank and auspiced by Slow Food Blue Mountains.

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