“Brad, what are you doing here?” I asked Brad Letch, while at his house in Verticordia Way, Strathalbyn. “We have an urban farm we call Rivendell Urban Farm,” he said. “We are trying to live a sustainable lifestyle, growing our own food and building community at the same time.” He was standing by a sign in a garden bed on the street verge at the front of his house. “The three permaculture principles of care for people, care for the earth and fair trading is what we aspire to,” he said. “This is our community herb garden. Members just step in and pick the herbs they want from here.” Brad is recruiting people to be involved in this garden and he is also re-designing an old display shelf with a glass front to stand near this garden as a community library, to work in association with the garden. He plans to put things in there, such as packets of seeds, trinkets for kids, etc. The blocks of land in this Geraldton suburb are large and Brad’s block gives him space to experiment with edible plants of all sorts. Because his wife Joyleen is a chef, she helps him decide on the range of plants to grow that work in the kitchen. “We have had this herb garden for about 12 months and it is only just now that the people are coming in and picking the herbs they want to use at home,” Brad said. “People probably do feel a little bit intimidated by coming into your yard and taking plants.” We did a cook’s tour of his extensive garden in the backyard. The first thing we passed was a pizza oven he built. Pots are arranged all around the house and he grows culinary herbs in them for his wife to use. “These wicking beds,” Brad said, pointing to a row of IBC containers. “They have been working fantastically. I’ve got spring onions and last year’s crop of capsicums, which I left in there and they sent out all small ones, so we will see what happens.” Brussels sprout, broccoli and beetroot are among the veggies in those beds. They are shaded a bit by big gum trees, but Brad reckons when you have an urban farm you need to find plants that will grow in shade and those that don’t, so you can use all the space you have. Marjoram and dill have a place there as well. Around the garden are beds of cauliflowers and other brassicas, plus chard and strawberries. Here and there were little signs on some plants indicating they were to be left for seed gathering. In this large edible-plant garden are compost bins, worm farms and many other plants on trial, including boxes of shoots grown to add to salads. All in all, an amazing collection of what every gardener needs to have. Well done, Brad. To share your Geraldton garden with readers call Stan Maley on 0428 230 029.