After more than five decades of being surrounded by other gardeners, growing food for the home table is something new for Julie Patey.
“I’m a late learner!” says Julie, “I was inspired by the Newstead Community Garden and got into gardening in 2010. Before then I hadn’t done much gardening – I was always surrounded by people who gardened, so I didn’t!”
“I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm, we had a kitchen garden, chooks and an extensive orchard. We had a gardener called ‘Mr Les’ who was a war veteran and did the gardening on the farm and my mother was also a very keen gardener.”
Living in Williamstown, Julie had a small herb garden. She moved to the area 15 years ago and grows olives, grapes and trees at Welshman’s Reef with her partner Duncan McGinty.
“On the farm it was always too dry to have a vege garden, I couldn’t keep the water up. The community garden made it possible and I became a member from the start, through my friendship with Mary Park.”
“It’s been a great opportunity to learn about composting, pruning, soil fertility and productivity. And berries – I knew nothing about berries before.”
“I’ve been able to take this back into my own life, and to bring it to the olives. I’ve become more confident about propogating from seeds and I’m raising beetroot seeds in my studio at home at the moment.”
Julie shares her plot at the community garden with Julie Butler and they have rocket, red and brown onions, leek, beetroot, garlic, turnips, broccoli, cabbage and winter salads – cos and red oak lettuce growing.
A very keen cook, Julie has always had a love for fresh produce and in her Melbourne days was a Vic Market regular. Cooking with seasonal, fresh, local produce becomes possible again.
“I love the dinners and pizzas and the whole shared table idea. The garden has been really good for that. The community thing has been a strong driver for me.”
“I really like the philosophy of kids being involved, and the older gardeners, so having connection with the school kids is fantastic. I’d like more of that.”
“The garden has given me a place of peace, where I can go as an individual. It’s good to get out and be physical. I live out of town, so it’s also given me a social outlet; I can talk to others, meet new people and there’s the educational aspect.”
“I’m an early morning person. We’ve all got our own little patterns. There’s the 7am people who come down to the garden first thing, the mid-morning people and the late afternoon people. You tend to bump into others with the same sort of rhythms.”