Useful plants for community gardens
As community gardeners we make biodiverse gardens combining food, exotic and native plants brought together into an assemblage that benefits us as well as the birds, bees and the myriad insect life that surrounds us.
Our community gardens are examples of the 'next nature', the biodiverse nature not the result of segregating plants into exotics, natives, food and weeds but of bringing all of them together to create the diverse and useful biomass of our towns and cities.
Our gardens are important as forage for honey bees and native bees. Those insects are important to the pollination and fruiting of the plants that yield the herbs, vegetables and fruit that we eat.
Included in the biodiverse cultivated ecology of our community gardens are species that evolved on the Australian continent, our 'bushfoods' and native plants that sustained Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years.
This series suggests some of the less common edible plants we can grow in our community gardens. What will grow depends on your climate. Some of the species here are spontaneous plants that propagate all by themselves, some of which we call ‘weeds’. Nonetheless, they are edible and are common foods in some cultures.
Whether weed or cultivated plant, it is wise to adopt a few plant precautionary principles:
- do not eat any plant you cannot identify
- wash all plant material before eating
- be aware that some plants require cooking or blanching before they are eaten.
Cities are already biodiverse environments. We make them even more so by planting species useful to people and wildlife in the cultivated ecologies of our community gardens.
(Apple trees planted in Hobart Linear Park, Tasmania. photo: Russ Grayson)