Growing with your Neighbours
26 March, 2017
Today, Sunday 26 March, is Neighbour Day in Australia. This is Australia’s annual celebration of community, encouraging people to connect with those who live in their neighbourhood.
Sometimes we let life get in the way of us making and keeping in contact with the people living around us. Whether through a cuppa, a picnic in the park, or a message of support; Neighbour Day is an opportunity to say thanks for being a great neighbour and for being there when I needed you most.
When I was growing up we knew everyone in the street, even the grumpy old bloke next door who we were sure grew bindi rather than grass just to keep us from getting our cricket balls out of his veggi patch. There were kids everywhere in the street as most had large families and sometimes you would find an extra sitting at the dinner table. A brief exchange of siblings somehow mananged to be incorporated in the family meal. There was much waving and the odd gesture up and down the street whenever you walked by and despite our surprise, Dad would even have the occasional chat over the fence with grumpy old Jack next door. Some urban areas can either become a place of great sharing or a battleground where people build taller fences to keep the others out.
We recently added the Grow Free community to the Affordable SA App. Check it out on in the Food Menu of the App. This fast growing community of backyard growers not only share their passion for home grown produce but share the produce itself for free. There are the growing number of "sharing carts" which are small colourful trolleys outside shops, cafes and maybe even your neighbours's house. Carts are loaded up with fresh produce from the community who drop off their overabundance of produce to share. "Take what you need and give what you can" is the philosophy of the carts. There are also a group of growers busy producing seedlings for free and a range of workshops showing you everything from planting the seedlings to complex mulching techniques.
What better way to celebrate your neighbours every day of the year than by sharing fresh produce with them and a whole community. Don't throw tomatoes, give them away. Grow Free is about making our food locally grown, organic and free. Food grown by the community for the community.
Its not just for the experienced grower as there are many ways of becoming involved with the Grow Free story.
Now older and having my own family I love my neigbourhood and neighbours despite them changing every so often. Most who have moved on are life long friends and we still catch up. There are not as many kids knocking cricket balls around but there is always a bucket of eggs or fresh poduce from the neighbours sitting on my kitchen bench. I'm not a very good gardener but am always willing to lend someone a hand when neighbours call. Getting fresh tomotoes, zucchinni or fruit grown in my street or fresh eggs is the best. More recently if there are fires or strong weather on the way, we make sure everyone is aware and OK. The group text usually announcing everything from the CFS update to new births. Even during Blackouts you can expect a knock at the door to compare notes and share some melting icecream.
Flashing back again to when I was growing up, when grumpy old jack died there wasnt a very large reception but everyone in the street came to pay their respects. When I think back to us playing in the backyard I do remeber that the cricket ball we knocked over the fence at the end of one day would always appear before the start of the next day's play, sitting near the stumps, cleaned and polished ready to go and come to think of it those ripe tomatoes on my Mum's kitchen bench looked very much like the ones in Old Jack's veggi patch next door. I guess I shouldn't have been too quick to judge Old Jack as perhaps in his own way he was trying to show us it was OK.
This Neighbour Day make a difference in your street. A wave, a chat or some form of acknowledgement might help you to develop a better relationship. And think about sharing on a larger community scale with the Grow Free community.