Have you ever grown your own food? Studies have shown that people who eat organic produce from their own garden have an increased sense of well being and good health.
In September 2007 I met a group of motivated, hardcore volunteer gardeners. When I say hardcore, some of these guys where involved with the guerrilla gardeners. They turn unused trashy areas and transform them into edible, self-sustaining gardens.
It started like this….
Some groups even go to extremes like dressing up in council uniforms or go out in the middle of the night and load their vans armed with fruit tree seedlings, compost and shovels.
Why are they doing this you might be questioning? Let’s go on a journey back to your childhood…. Do you remember the days of discovering and climbing a mulberry tree and climbing up to pick the abundance of fresh fruit and eating them with your friends – coming home covered head to toe in purple stains? These are the kind of memories that bring me the most joy from my childhood.
Now I see why these guerrilla gardeners volunteer their time for future generations. Imagine a future with fruit trees lining the streets! These people inspired me so I enquired to our landlord about the old unused car park down the back of our shop, Threeworlds, and proposed a community garden. They said YES! So there was born Urban Eden, right here in Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland.
It’s been three years in the making….
This old trashy car park was covered in graffiti, piles of smashed beer bottles and weeds. There was even a guy living in a van out there! So we called local businesses who then donated materials such as soil, seedlings and a shade cloth. We even got a water tank donated and installed!
Together with local artists and donated paint we transformed the graffiti covered wall into an eye pleasing delight!
The word spread like wildfire, so we organised a working bee day to create garden beds, an area for workshops, music, fire twirling and other fun life-inspiring activities.
Not long after the Gold Coast Bulletin, Channel 9 and the ABC Radio somehow found out about the project. They were amazed to hear that the garden was made from recycled and donated materials.
In a year and a half the papaya trees had at least 30 fruits on them and we had basil, passionfruit and chillies coming out of our ears!
In June 2008 we held Eco Inspiration Week in the garden, organised by local wonder woman Kandy McCouat. It was a week full of activities, workshops, art and music. It was a huge success with over 100 people attending on the garden open day. Even the Burleigh Heads counsellor, Greg Betts showed up and donated local bush tucker plants.
Late February 2009 saw the introduction of the beautiful worm farm that was proudly donated by a demolished hotel down the road in Burleigh Heads. The worm farm is a productive way to transform veggie scraps from the kitchen into healthy, nutrient rich soil that looks like chocolate mud cake – the plants love it!
Today, Urban Eden is flourishing with people and plants and hosts the Threeworlds Organic Café – adjacent to the garden. The café started on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis in 2008. Yes, that means you could pay what you thought the meal was worth… just put the money in a box. I bet you’re thinking, that’s the craziest idea ever! Did it work? In all honesty it did work, but left people a little confused and baffled. Most people felt guilty so they put extra money in the box. From a business perspective it served as a great way to get the word out there – people where talking everywhere about the restaurant and how it works on a pay as you feel basis.
In September 2009 we came up with a ‘brainwave’. We put prices on the food!
Today Threeworlds is flourishing with heaps of workshops like laughter yoga, full moon bonfires and storytelling, organic gardening and Permaculture workshops, cooking classes, worm farming – not to mention the African drumming, fire twirling, didgeridoo, juggling and meditation classes that we hold every week. We also have concerts and live music in the garden. Next month we host open week – it’s jam packed full of these activities, free of charge, or if anyone is interested in coming on a tour on the Bongo Bus through the streets of Surfers Paradise… here we come playing our drums just for fun!
The spirit of Threeworlds is about community, bringing people together through teaching awareness and having fun. I look forward to seeing you all here!