URBAN FARMING: Rob Gray embraces sustainable practices in his garden which has chickens, fruit, vegetables and a worm farm.
URBAN FARMING: Rob Gray embraces sustainable practices in his garden which has chickens, fruit, vegetables and a worm farm. Rob Williams

Rob's got a farm in his backyard

NORTH Ipswich father Rob Gray can catch fish for dinner in his own backyard.

Not only that, those same fish are used to help him grow vegies for the rest of his dinner.

"It's called aquaponic gardening," Mr Gray explained.

"The tank filters the fish's waste which provides organic food to the growing plants."

The set up is just one of the ways the 42-year-old has transformed his typical suburban backyard into an urban farm.

He is part of an emerging trend across Ipswich of families growing fresh produce at home instead of buying it at the supermarket.

The stay-at-home dad said his four-year-old garden stocked an assortment of fruits and vegies, from Roma tomatoes to Sicilian purple cauliflower.

His 680sq m organic garden incorporates design principles obtained from the internet, and also includes a chicken coop, worm farms and self-watering containers.

"Now that it's set up, it's easy to manage - I only need to attend to the garden for about 15 minutes per day," he said.

Mr Gray said not only did the farm teach his two children about the value of agriculture, it was also economical.

"When you grow your own food instead of paying for it, it certainly helps the hip pocket," he said.

"I'm noticing more people getting on board and setting up farms in their backyards.

"Our neighbours have even put in a few garden beds and approached me for a few tips."

Since moving into their One Mile home, Steve Allan and his partner Adie Wimbush have also developed a love for gardening.

Their 1360sq m backyard is an urban garden showpiece with a wide selection of fruit and vegies.

The family of six even grows loofahs to dry out and use as sponges for bathing and cleaning.

Mr Allan said his children loved to wander through the garden and pick out food to eat.

"We've only been seriously gardening for about a year and have learned everything we know from the Ipswich Kitchen Garden," he said.

Located in Leichhardt, the community garden offers green thumbs the chance to learn the skills to grow their own produce.

Garden tips

  • Start small: You don't need to invest a lot of money to get your garden off the ground.
  • If you take on too much you might get overwhelmed. Start with a couple of quick wins such as herbs and lettuces.
  • Grow things you like to eat: nothing will go to waste.
  • Water wisely: It is best to water plants either early in the morning or in the evening, when the sun is not hot and bright. This will allow the water to be absorbed by the plants.
  • Be patient: A few hours of planning can make all the difference. It is quite easy to dig a plot and some plants in the ground. It is another thing to create a living garden.


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