A Hoppers Crossing horticulturist is using his plant savvy to teach locals how to grow and enjoy their own edible gardens.
Craig Castree, who has worked in the horticulture industry for 40 years, recently released Edible Gardens – A Practical Guide, a book detailing how home gardeners can mix fruit, vegetables and herbs in with traditional flowers and plants to create a garden that’s both visually pleasing and good enough to eat.
“We need to unlearn a lot of things here in Australia,” he said. “We’ve learnt from books that were written for an overseas climate.
“We’ve become completely disconnected from our food. If you’re not growing most of your own food, you don’t get to choose what you put in your mouth – it’s chosen for you.
“For instance, in Victoria, we have 1860 varieties of apple available to us. How many do you get to choose from in a supermarket? Supermarkets choose thick skins that travel well, don’t bruise easily, that are of even shape, have good colour, that are a decent price, that can be polished. Taste and flavour are not a consideration. They sell to us what pleases our eye.”
Mr Castree is a regular guest on Vasili’s Garden to Kitchen TV show and runs workshops for not-for-profit organisations to teach locals how to grow their own food.
Mr Castree also teaches horticulture students at the Gordon Institute and is president of the Werribee Park Heritage Orchard.
His own front and back gardens are full of fruit, vegetables and herbs, meaning he never has to go to the supermarket to get fresh produce.
“An edible garden is bringing back how nature intended to grow food – in its natural state,” Mr Castree said