We’ve got some exciting news! Food Fairness Illawarra will host the inaugural Illawarra Edible Garden Trail on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November 2023 from 10am-3pm. This event is sponsored by Gilly’s Kitchen Garden and Treemates. Book your tickets here!
What is an Edible Garden Trail?
An edible garden trail is a weekend where gardeners of all levels and in all environments open their front gate to the general public to meander through. It’s all about connecting budding gardeners, well-rooted growers and sticky-beakers, to share all the growing tricks and tips for different environments.
The Edible Garden Trail is an opportunity to visit and talk with your neighbours growing in all types of gardens, from big sunny backyards, to shaded verges, to seeing potted balcony gardens or school veggie patches.– AJ Linke, Program Manager
Gardens will be open between Helensburgh to Woonona with the event extending to Wollongong in 2024 and Windang in 2025.
Check our Community FAQ’s
Open your garden
We’ll be showcasing ALL types of growing spaces, not just ‘show gardens’. We’re all learning – the trail is for anyone growing food in their backyard, you don’t need to be an expert. Have a read of our Host FAQ’s and then take 5 minutes to tell us about your garden here.
- Food Security
Localised food production is becoming increasingly important. Forecasts by the CSIRO predict Sydney’s food production from within the basin could drop from 20% to 6% by 2031. If Sydney was cut-off we would have a two days supply of fresh food. The Trail offers the opportunity into an alternative, more resilient food system based on backyard growing.
It’s a chance to deepen our understanding of our local environment, including native foods that have been lost to urbanisation; the Illawarra has a flavourful spectrum of native foods such as the Illawarra Plum that would have contributed greatly to the D’harawal diet. The Trail is an opportunity to strengthen community connections and bring food production, of both native and non-native foods, back to the area.
Lastly, the Edible Garden Trail will highlight the importance of seasonality and educate participants on seasonal produce in the Illawarra. Seasonal eating refers to eating fruit and vegetables that are ‘in season’ or at the peak of their freshness and flavour during a specific time of the year. In-season food is better for you, tastier and cheaper; it requires less travel and less controlled, artificial environments to grow in!
The escarpment creates many different environments to grow food in and this weekend is all about teaching each other how to start growing something or to learn how to grow more with your neighbours.– Kelly Andrews, CEO of Healthy Cities Illawarra
|What||Illawarra Edible Garden Trail|
|When||Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November 2023 10am – 3pm|
|Where||Helensburgh to Woonona|
|Who||Community members across the Illawarra interested in local food growing|
|Cost||Tickets are available through Eventbrite and are now on sale! All tickets are weekend passes and will give you access to all gardens on Saturday and Sunday.|
EARLY BIRD (until September 15)
Adult – $18
Concession – $10
Adult – $25
Kids (under 15) – $5
Concession (students, pensioners)- $15
Family (2 x adults & 2 x kids) – $55
The money raised from the ticket sales will cover the costs of the event.
Marina’s Garden / Helensburgh / backyard garden / Sat & Sun
Raised beds / sunny & shady / veggies / herbs / fruit / permaculture principles / no dig beds / climbing trellis / compost / worm farm
I’ve lived in Helensburgh for less than 3 years after being in a unit for nearly 30. All I wanted was to grow a garden! I get so much joy feeding my family with clean healthy produce grown in my own garden. The vegetable garden has been designed for accessibility into old age.
Romain Portugal / Helensburgh / backyard garden / Saturday only
Sunny / shady / veggies / herbs / fruit / chickens / bees / compost / worm farm
Starting fresh in a new garden. Lots of beds, now planting out with seedlings of Thyme, Rosemary, Sage and much more. Good soil, lots of toil!
Ethan’s Garden / Stanwell Tops / backyard garden / Sunday only
Verge garden / raised beds / veggies / fruit / worm farm
I started gardening through the Disability Trust’s IVS Trusted Gardener program when I was still at school. My family had this cage built for me so that I could grow food in the sunniest spot at my home safe from the deer. I grow all my favourites: grapes, pears, mandarins, blueberries, strawberries, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, fennel, carrot, cauliflower, celery and potato for chips. I had chickens too but the lace monitor that lives in my roof sometimes liked eating all the eggs.
Greg’s Garden / Otford / backyard garden / Sunday only
Raised beds / shady / veggies / herbs / fruit / nuts / chickens / bio-intensive / compost / worm farm
Large organic vegetable and herb garden on over half an acre with many fruit and nut trees as well as chickens. Also used as a Seed Saving Garden. Collecting seeds for 30 years.
Gilly’s Kitchen Garden / Otford / gardening school / Sat & Sun
No dig beds / veggies / fruit / nuts / herbs / chickens / permaculture principles / food forest / native bush tucker / compost / worm farm
Our dream of turning the Old Headmaster’s Cottage at Otford into a wellness education centre started with the development of a productive permaculture garden. Four years later, we have a food forest encompassing over 100 trees and about 90 sqm of terraced annual beds. We’re currently working on developing our programs and hoping for approval to start work on the cooking school soon. Learn more about our journey at gillyskitchengarden.com.au
Otford Public School / Otford / school garden / Saturday only
Raised beds / airgarden-aeroponic / veggies / herbs / fruit / permaculture principles / no dig beds / food forest / native bush tucker / climbing trellis / compost / worm farm
Starting out again on our garden journey with increasing engagement of community members and students. Strong curriculum links between the garden program and STEM themes.
Zan & Pearce’s Garden / Otford / backyard garden / Sat & Sun
No dig beds / raised beds / shaded / veggies / herbs / fruit / compost / worm farm
Our young garden is evolving as we encounter local critters and learn more about the path of the sun through summer and winter. Otford is an exciting and challenging place to grow edibles – valley shade and abundant wildlife keep you on your toes and constantly inventing. We have 13 young dwarf fruit trees, several young bush food plants, and a mix of no dig bed and raised bed veggie patches. We greatly benefit from the wonderful neighbourhood growing expertise, crop swap, seed swaps, and seedling sharing among neighbours… a special place to be a grower! We look forward to sharing our growing experiments with you and learning from your knowledge as well.
Kieran’s Garden / Stanwell Park / native regeneration garden / Sat & Sun
Native regeneration / fruit / veggies / nuts / native bush-tucker / compost
My backyard is in the centre of the Stanwell Avenue Reserve, a 4.5 hectare public park which was completely gutted of all trees in the 1920s. Most of it was resumed as a park in 1968 and since then the original littoral rainforest has regenerated with the help of volunteers. There were 40 species of native trees naturally regenerated and we have planted another 40 species of Illawarra native trees over a 50 year period. There are a limited number of edible plants which are interspersed throughout the property: Warrigal Greens, Brush Cherries, Black Apples, Black Plum, Davidson’s Plum, White Aspen, Lilli Pilli (white, purple), Wombat Berry, Kangaroo Apple, Kangaroo Berry, Turkey Rhubarb (I try to remove this edible weed but it keeps growing back!), Pigface, Lomandra, Macademia, Native Rasberry, Sandpaper Fig, Cherry Guava, Bunya Pine, Norfolk Island Pine and Illawarra Flame Trees (seeds are edible). This is not an ordinary garden – it is wild!
Candy’s Garden / Stanwell Park / verge & backyard garden / Saturday only
Raised beds / sunny / veggies / herbs / fruit / climbing trellis / compost
My veggie garden, started as a raised bed garden and has crept to lots of other spaces in our yard. Some things work and others don’t and some years it gets more love than others. I love my time in the garden and am constantly learning.
Coledale Public School / Coledale / school garden / Saturday only
Permaculture principles / no dig beds / native bush tucker / food forest / veggies / herbs / nuts / fruit / chickens / compost / worm farm
Our Permaculture, organic garden was built in 2011. We have 4 no dig veggie beds which we grow seasonal vegetables, a food forest, several fruit trees, a bush tucker garden (in process of rebuilding), worm farms, compost area and recently we added chickens to our garden area. Students care for the garden, while following the Stephanie Alexander kitchen garden program, linking their garden/ kitchen experiences with the school curriculum. They cook regularly with the fresh produce they grow.
Austinmer Public School / Austinmer / school garden / Saturday only
No dig beds / self-watering beds / sunny / veggies & herbs / subpod compost
The Austinmer Public School veg garden is about two years old and really thriving! We have four self-watering beds and two large in-ground beds. A weekly garden club helps with watering, weeding and planting and a volunteer-run garden class gets all school children in the garden throughout the term to learn about the connection between gardening, science, and wellbeing. The kids love snacking on herbs and playing on pavers they designed! We would love to talk to other schools about incorporating gardens into their learning.
Belinda’s Garden / Austinmer / verge garden / Saturday only
In ground / sunny / veggies & herbs / edible flowers / compost / worm farm
My front verge is the sunniest place in our garden and I have planted it with herbs and edible flowers. Being able to go out to the verge and pick herbs for meals is wonderful. The edible flowers and herbs look lovely, and provide sustenance for insects and bees. The garden is a great talking point when people walk past and my neighbours help themselves to the herbs and flowers.
Sarah’s Garden / Austinmer / backyard garden / Saturday only
Raised beds / shaded / herbs / bees / native fruit trees / compost
Set on one of the oldest European sites on the Illawarra, ‘Rathane’ was built by Mr Don Lett for Captain Charles McKenzie Young in 1923. ‘Rathane’ was built on the site of Westmacott’s cottage called ‘Sidmouth’ constructed in 1837. So this year we celebrate 100 years of Captain Young’s Garden which used to be quite extensive running down to Hicks Creek but is now much smaller. The Garden, as it is today, was re-constructed by Ranger Landscapes over the Covid interruption. Garden advice, maintenance and inspiration is provided by Zoe and Zac from Plantlandia and features raised herb and vegetable beds and a number of native fruit-bearing trees as well as bees in a Flow Hive.
Imogen’s Garden / Austinmer / verge garden / Saturday only
Veggies / herbs / fruit / Indigenous medicinal plants and ‘weeds’ / permaculture / food forest / compost / worm farm / chop & drop
This geurilla garden began as a bare patch of dry soil next to the railway line, where even weeds struggled to grow in the shade of poisonous palms. One day the palms were completely removed, leaving a small area of empty soil in full sun. We saw potential and planted sweet potato and parsely to open up the soil. Over 8 years, this very public patch of earth has been enriched with compost, worms, straw bales, leaves, sugar cane mulch and neighbours’ grass clippings. It now has a fig, a mango, an avocado, a pomegranate, several bush lemons and a gumbi-gumbi growing up, surrounded by brassicas, tomatoes, chilli, herbs and beans. We adopt the principle of ‘Scatter Seeds and see what Survives and thrives’. We have no readily available water on site, so plants must fend for themselves most of the year. There are colourful art works made by local community during Lockdown and a mural on the fence that tells the story of the giant oak tree on the corner. It hosts Utensil Town and provides a quiet bench for reflection under a shady tree.
Karla’s Garden / Thirroul / backyard garden / Saturday only
Raised beds / sunny / veggies / herbs / fruit / chickens / permaculture principles / food forest / native bush tucker / climbing trellis / compost
I used to have a farm with cattle for many years, and after I sold the farm I got into organic gardening. I have been nurturing my current garden for 20 years, which is a quarter acre block with a north facing slope, 100 metres from the ocean. I am an active member of the gardening community in Thirroul and around the region more generally. Locally I’m involved with Thirroul Community Garden and participate in crop swaps with my neighbours. I am especially passionate about seed saving and will be offering seed saving demonstrations at 11am and 2pm during the garden trail – please bring x2 paper bags and a pen to take home some of my local seeds. I am excited to be involved in the garden trail, to share my knowledge, and to learn from others.
Thirroul Community Garden / Thirroul / Community Garden / Sunday only
Veggies / fruit / herbs / permaculture principles / food forest / native bush-tucker / compost / worm farm
Thirroul Community Garden has been operating since 2012. We garden on Wednesday afternoon and Sunday mornings, and draw members from Stanwell Park through to Corrimal. The garden is committed to inclusive practices, community engagement, member well-being and sustainable food production.
Jorid Nordaker / Woonona / verge garden / Sunday only
5 metre cubic herb and leafy green, street front fruit trees, back garden fruit trees that are designed in 3 zones pending on level of attention required.