How growing food can help save the world (and yourself)
He went from running a commercial kitchen to living in an idyllic paradise on ABC’s River Cottage Australia – and, most recently, Paul West made an appearance at LEAF in Logan.
The popular TV personality, radio host, founder of Grow It Local and passionate environmental advocate’s presentation is titled Home Food Growers Save The World.
‘I don’t think that’s an overstatement,’ he says.
‘Growing food in your back yard is the first and most immediate action we can take to make the world better. When you think of all the things going wrong in the world, at a national and international level, it can be overwhelming – but just by having a couple of pots or a small balcony garden you are doing something amazing, fostering growth.
‘We can often feel like the things we do are in a vacuum but what I get excited about is connecting the dots and thinking about all the people on your street, or in your city, doing these things – how much collective impact are we having by all growing our food, how much are we diverting from landfill?
‘We are amazing when we do things individually, but we are also a part of a greater movement.’
Not only is growing your own food a way to save the world, Paul says – it’s addictive too.
‘It is a massive gateway drug to hardcore environmentalism,’ he says.
‘I think the reason people love it is that there is a tangible, immediate outcome to your actions. So many of us – including me – often work in a digital space where we spend 8 hours a day on the laptop and at the end, you close it and that’s it.
‘On the other hand, when you spend 15 minutes in the garden, maybe watering, maybe weeding, you can immediately see the outcome. That’s addictive.’
Paul says he loves events like LEAF – as a punter as much as a presenter.
‘It is so great to come and meet people, hear what’s inspiring others to connect with a sustainable lifestyle – and you know that if someone shows up to a day that’s all about the environment and sustainability, then you are going to have a lot in common,’ he says.
He says more people from a wider range of demographics are becoming interested in growing their own food – for reasons ranging from finance, to mental and physical health.
‘It’s a magic bullet,’ Paul says.
‘Think of any problem in the world and I can guarantee that growing food in your backyard windowsill will go some way to addressing it, there are just no downsides.
‘If you look at any sort of generic health advice – move more, eat good food, get outside – gardening does all of that – chuck in a night of quality sleep, which you are pretty much guaranteed after a good day in the garden, and you are away.’
While he’s passionate about getting out in the garden now, it wasn’t always the case for Paul. His mum was a keen gardener and he used to dread being dragged out to help her.
‘It’s definitely not one of those beautiful stories of a childhood skipping through the garden. I didn’t like it at all! But what was happening was that I was learning, even if it was begrudgingly, and I came to understand how important those lessons were as an adult.
‘Mum was right all along.’