Voice: Good morning, Max. You’re going to tell us all about a special garden that you’ve created for the residents of the block of flats where you live. I’m really looking forward to hearing all about it, and I’ve got lots of questions I’d like to ask you.
Max: No problem. A lot of work has gone into this project and I’m very happy to talk about it. I’m very proud of what my friends and I have achieved.
Voice: What is unique about the garden?
Max: Let me begin at the beginning. I live in a complex of three blocks of flats. And in the middle of our little area, there is a garden that’s looked after by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. It’s very nice - planted with grass, and flowers, and flowering bushes.
Voice: You are very lucky to have this.
Max: We are indeed. I think all the residents appreciate it. But you know, vegetables and fruit bushes and salad plants are just as attractive as flowers and grass. Last year while on holiday in France, I visited a small castle called Villandry that had the most beautiful garden. I was very surprised to discover that all the plants in this garden were vegetables. It was amazing. And that gave me an idea.
Voice: What was that?
Max: To change our garden into a beautiful vegetable and fruit garden that would not only look great but that would also grow produce for the residents to eat free of charge.
Voice: What did you do first?
Max: I asked friends who live in my block what they thought of the idea. They all thought it would be a great thing to do, so my next move was to deliver a questionnaire to each flat asking what all the residents thought. I got a ninety-five positive responses. I was overjoyed.
Voice: What did you do next?
Max: I contacted the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to discuss the idea with them. After a few initial reservations, they agreed to support us. I told them that I already had a group of ten volunteers to help me look after the garden once it was up and running. The LCSD agreed to clear the space and prepare the ground, but it would be up to us to plan the garden and plant everything.
Voice: That sounds fantastic.
Max: It was great that they didn’t stand in our way. So next, we needed a plan. I was trained as an architect, and am quite good at drawing, so I put together some plans and sketches for the garden, and sent them to the LCSD.
Voice: What was their reaction when they saw your sketches?
Max: They couldn’t believe that all my drawings were of vegetables and fruit bushes. One of the gardeners said he didn’t realise how beautiful a carrot plant was!
Voice: So they gave you permission to go ahead?
Max: They did. But they said they would give the project three years, and then review how it was working out.
Voice: Fair enough. Where did you get the money for seeds and plants?
Max: An environment charity gave us a grant, and then we were up and running.
Voice: I visited your garden yesterday morning, and it does look very beautiful. And I saw a few people picking beans and lettuce and strawberries for lunch.
Max: It’s all working very well. Residents help themselves to produce whenever they need it. The garden doesn’t need as much looking after as I originally thought, and I have more volunteers to work in the garden than I need. I’m pleased you think the garden looks good. Don’t let anyone tell you a beetroot plant is not as beautiful as a rose! Just come look at our garden if you don’t believe me!