We are a family with two young kids, a very small garden, living in Melbourne’s inner north. My husband (Mark) & I (Sam) work 5 and 3 days a week respectively. Our two kids Asha, 7 and Jay, 5 are both well accustomed to growing food and shopping at farmers’ markets, and it has to be said that we are already professionally entrenched in local food culture.
I work at the Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association and Mark runs Eureka Coffee, a local roaster featuring Australian grown, fair trade and organic coffees. We rely on accredited farmers’ markets so that we don’t have to question every carrot, egg or potato that we buy there – we know we are buying directly from the farmer and that supports a healthy local food economy. Not to mention the fact that we just love good food and farmers’ markets are a source of inspiration. They are just a couple of the many reasons we already shop at farmers’ markets.
I could go on about the virtues of farmers’ markets, but this is not a work project, it is our own.
The whole family is behind this project, but in our house the kitchen and garden tend to be my domain. The kids are already reminding dad that he isn’t allowed to buy food from the supermarket, and they now know that we have a budget when we go to the farmers’ markets.
So we have limited garden space: a total of about 10m2 at home plus a shared community garden plot (12m2) – ummmm…. and those 10 or so milk crates full of vegies that have found their way to the laneway out the back gate (I have confessed to Simon Schulz over the unauthorised use of his milk crates!). Like most of our friends with kids, we also have very limited spare time each week in which to grow, prepare and research food.
In the garden at home, I focus on growing herbs and salad leaves and I have managed to squeeze in some productive trees: lemon, plum, apricot, bay and crab apple. We never buy herbs, lemons or greens for cooking and I hope to extend that to salad leaves too. Of our garden space at home, more than half gets no direct sun in winter, and I am constantly in denial that we really can’t grow many food plants in the cooler months. I raise all the plants for our shared plot from seed in boxes at home and transplant the seedlings, focusing on easy to grow vegies that have good yield for space – tomatoes, zucchini, squash, etc at the moment. I rarely have any luck with root vegetables, so don’t often plant them. The garden will be a great way to help stick to our budget, for the kids to get involved and to help satisfy the “delicious” part of the challenge by eating the freshest possible produce every day.
I expect that our pantry items will take the most time to research, and I intend to use what we already have on hand and gradually restock with items that fit our parameters. There will be some inevitable sticky points when sourcing some staples that are aggregated before being processed – sugar, oats, flour, etc. There are some items that I can already identify that will need to fit within the 10% of budget including our local Asian eateries – if and when we can afford them!