Thanks to crossing paths at the Regional Food Hub meeting in Canberra, 100kilos.org’s latest member of our volunteer crew is Troy Levier – our garden guide who can advise you on keeping your veg patch happy and healthy. You can meet Troy at the Belconnen Harvest Swap this Saturday 13 December. I caught up with Troy earlier today for a bit of QnA so here’s a bit of his story for you….
Q: Troy you are a horticulturalist in your day job – what keeps you motivated to get out into the veg patch when you get home?
A: Do you want an honest answer? [Yes, we are real people I said] I spend a lot of time playing golf instead so I sacrifice my Wednesday afternoon and I work up to 6 or 8 in the evenings to play golf. As part of my business I grow veges at other peoples houses and I get to take some of the produce home as part of the deal. So there’s not point me growing excess at home and not being there to tend it. All I have at home at the moment is a couple of tomatoes from my brother, and some rocket that has self sown.
But I”m lucky with the work I do, if I was in an office all day I’d need to get outside and hear the birds instead of keyboards and reconnect with nature.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your own veges and what you like to grow?
A: I like to grow what I cook with and what I put in a sandwich. Tomato, rocket, lettuce, spinach, basil, herbs, rosemary, zucchini. Last year I had pumpkins sprout up out of Mum’s chook yard, I planted out 10 and then were giving pumpkins to everyone. The long stem rosemary is great for skewers instead of bamboo. I’d like to grow more to give you a better answer but that’s what I do. I just like plants in general.
Q: Edible landscapes is one of your specialities, what attracted you to that?
A: My brother did a traineeship with SAGE in Moruya and would ask me for advice and I was quite interested in what he was doing there. He encouraged me to grow more in my customers gardens. Then a new customer had 3 run down veg beds that needed rebuilding on a large block, so I went round for a consultation and suggested the only thing we were going to plant was what we could eat. We put apple, nectarine, cherry, plums in the back and the hubby liked citrus so we put citrus out front. About 8 years ago I started with another a client at Chapman after fires. He asked for some advice and Isuggested ballerina apples and his became sort of the prototype but everyone’s garden is different. It’s now a trend that continues and I am keen to do more – the more home grown food you eat the more you are reminded to do it and people get excited about it.
They get excited because they enjoy nurturing something from a seedling into a meal and see the great flavour that they had forgotten what real food tasted like. Lots of people going to the farmers markets now that inspires people, and I can show them how easy it is to do with the right preparation. Takes a bit of time, but we can exchange some TV time for some garden time.
Q: You’ll be at the swap at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets this weekend – what sort of things could our community ask you about?
A: Garden preparation and especially soil preparation are a good start. Fertilisers too. People are often confused about or have different ideas about or just don’t know much about which fertilisers to use.
Other things people ask is what to plant now, what can we still cram into summer.
That’s a few thoughts from Troy for the week, and you might find you’ve met Troy before because he originally did his apprenticeship with CIT and Rodney’s Nursery, then moved on to Green and Gold at Jamison and has also done water tune ups with ACTEWAGL. But did you know he’s also worked with an indoor plant company, a florist and did the plants on the sets of some Harry Potter films in London (right near where Sherlock Holmes lived too)? Nowadays Troy has his own horticulture business the Garden Detailer, some garden maintenance contracts and supplies specialist local produce to the florist in Jamison too.
Troy’s starting advice to anyone thinking about growing veges at home is “Just do this, it’s easy”. So come along for a chat and some great produce at the Belconen Fresh Food Market, you’ll meet Troy and our Belconnen Coordinator Evangeline this Saturday from 9:30am to 12:30pm.
Hope to see you all at the harvest swaps this weekend wherever you are – watch out for our volunteers in the designer 100kilos.org aprons 🙂