Julie Butler joined the Newstead Community Garden at it’s launch, in May 2010, a time when the drought was still being keenly felt.
“On the farm I would run out of rainwater every summer. Every year my vegetable garden would suffer because the dam water quality was poor – it needed to be shandied (diluted with other water) to use on my veges. Even then, the beans would shrivel and die off.”
“I had a desire to grow produce. The Community Garden had a good water supply. Since having a plot, I realise just how important regular watering, and having good quality water, is.”
Now Julie can grow her favorite vegetable – green beans – much to her family’s disgust!
“My favorite way with beans is an old Italian way. As a child, my mother would always steam them, and serve warm with oil, vinegar and salt.”
Julie has a fine heritage of produce growing – she grew up on a mixed farm in the King Valley, near Whitfield, moved to the Newstead area in 1983. The Pizzinis, now mainly grape growers and vignerons, always had a well stocked vegetable garden.
“Then everyone had a garden; you could’t just drive down to the shops and buy something because we lived a way out of town. My uncle is 92 and still gardening. Over Christmas, my dad helped me get my vege patch at the farm up to scratch and gave me a rev up. He rings me to give advice.”
Julie shares her community garden plot with Julie Patey. This summer they have eggplant, capsicum, corn, onions, zuke, pumpkin, rocket, strawberries. Julie says she checks the blog to see what she should plant and also picks up advice from other gardeners.
“You don’t necessarily need to have other gardeners digging around you – you can see what’s been done and how. The garden is improving, we are learning, but I think there’s stilll more room for digger members to come on board.”
“I like the sense of shared responsibility; watering others’ plots and sharing produce. I’d like to learn how to graft fruit trees.”
For Julie, the garden is more than a place of growing plants and food, it is also an important space to visit.
“The garden for me is also a spiritually productive place. It is a place where you can go when it is quiet and peaceful, to reflect and sit. I think gardens are rejuvenating spaces.”