suburban melbourne backyard

SUSTAINABLY LOCAL: an ordinary family living sustainably in Melbourne

Growing Green Thumbs are dedicated to educating children and their families about the origins of food, the relationship we can form with nature and the joys of giving back to the earth by living sustainably.  Our goal is to inspire and build a sustainable future for our kids and the planet through community connections. In a series of interviews, we aim to draw attention to our environment through our community’s best practices.


Meg, Stuart and their family have been a favorite of ours for a long time. All members have taken part in the shaping of the school garden at Bonbeach Primary School with us,  but most importantly they practice some very good principles when it comes to living sustainably. We caught up with them, had a chat and a guided tour of their new home and discussed their garden plans.

growing green thumbs - sustainably local interview -suburban beachside melbourne

As a family we have just moved to a new home/garden.  Currently we have a garden that was quickly planted less than 12 months ago as an ornamental garden prior to the sale of the property.  Many of the trees and shrubs did not survive Melbourne’s hot summer.

The biggest rewards from our previous garden were being in touch with living growing things.  Plus the Bible tells us that one of the first things God did was create a garden – so for us it is a spiritual time. We had chickens, companion planted and encouraged natural predators.  We grew our own food and plan to grow again because it tastes sooooooooooooooooooooo much better. To pick something and eat immediately is incredible.

growing green thumbs - sustainably local interview -suburban beachside melbourne

Our new home requires us to establish a veggie garden, plant fruit trees, create space for the chooks, include more indigenous plants in the ornamental garden, create a permanent herb garden, as well as develop play spaces for the children to encourage ‘nature play’. As well as our home being a place for our family, it is also my workplace – I run a Family Day Care service in my home/garden.  Children are nurtured and provided with learning opportunities – caring for our planet is a mandatory element of the program.

suburban melbourne backyard

suburban melbourne backyardsuburban melbourne backyard non-climbing fence railsgrowing green thumbs - sustainably local interview -suburban beachside melbourne

Living as sustainable as we can, we put all glass, paper etc. in council recycling bin, clean ‘jam jars’ are given to all our preserve making friends for refilling and reuse all sorts of boxes, cardboard etc. for play/activity items in my FDC program.

Inedible food waste is composted along with all garden trimmings – we don’t use a ‘green waste bin’ – what can’t be composted, mulched or dried for use goes in our fire pit. The family dog, chooks and worms get edible food waste (cat is useless in this regard).

As much as possible we buy in bulk, make our food from “scratch”, and make and take lunches etc. when eating away from home (saves lots of $$$$$$ as well). We wash and dry soft plastics for Redcycle collection points and use  reusable/travel coffee mugs.

We like the well-known mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” – adding on “Repair”

We like shopping at Op shops!  As well as wearing ‘hand me downs’, and as much as possible mending our own clothes.  When we do buy brand new clothing we choose well-made quality items that last.

We set our day time heating to 18 C (everyone is encouraged to put a jumper on if cool) with the heater being turned off at night. Most of our furniture is inherited, acquired or repurposed.

compost binsgrowing green thumbs - sustainably local interview -suburban beachside melbourneWe are an ordinary family of five people, one dog, one cat, two chooks and thousands of worms.  Our Christian beliefs inform our desire to be the best stewards of not only our own little garden, but our local community and the planet as a whole.

I, Meg, grew up in rural Tasmania –in the 1970’s everyone in our town had a veggie garden.  Plus when visiting extended family in South Australia a tour of the veggie patches of grandparents, aunts and uncles was part of collecting food for dinner. Stuart, my husband, grew up in country Victoria – his parents and grandparents all had vegie gardens too – it was just what you did.

We were once “Friends of The Grange” – a remnant indigenous nature reserve in Clayton South.  ‘Volunteering time ‘for us is now based around our children’s community involvement – Life saving, Girl Guides, and park run.  Our church coordinate a community garden in Carrum that is connected with the food distribution project “Pantry 5000” – which we support.

permaculture weed tea

weed tea

water wise

water saving

recycling drying fallen tree logs for the fireA plan for our new home in suburban, Beachside Melbourne, is to create raised garden beds – with 6 plots to rotate the chicken yard and crop planting. We had 5 at our previous home. We also plan to install a rain water tank (one at previous house), as well as solar panels.  We did have a grey water treatment system at our previous home – not sure if it was worth the cost and occasional maintenance issues.

If we were to inspire, it would definitely be ‘If we can do it – so can you! Start small – just do one thing at a time!’

We look forward to catching up with Meg, Stuart and their family once they find their feet in their new home, build veggie beds & get the chooks settled.






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