2020 is officially here and if you are looking for some inspiration to start growing your own food, look no further than our latest story featuring the wonderful work of urban gardener and founder of The Bali Box, Tara Alderson!
The Bali Box is a quarterly eco-focused subscription where customers receive natural and sustainable products from small businesses and local artisans in Bali, such as coconut soap scrubs and plastic free kitchen essentials. In addition to running The Bali Box, Tara has been deeply involved with growing her own food in Sai Kung for the last 4 years and since she was a kid in Canada. She loves to share her fruitful produce with those around her whenever possible and discuss gardening with neighbours. Most importantly though, she values the benefits that a healthy outdoors lifestyle provides, even in the sweaty Hong Kong summer.
For Tara, urban gardening has been incredibly rewarding as it has allowed her to develop a beautiful space that people can enjoy whilst they connect to the food they eat and sow. At present, she is growing a variety of foods ranging from succulent papayas and tangy passionfruit, to aromatic herbs such as Vietnamese mint, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, basil, chives and dill. A few kitchen essentials such as spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes and tomatoes are on their way too and her newest additions to the garden include special tea-infusion plants like roselle and butterfly pea!
One of her favourite creations from her harvests is roselle syrup, made by boiling fresh whole roselle buds covered in 1 inch of water and 1/4 cup honey for about 40 minutes then strained. She uses the roselle syrup in different ways including making a fantastic gin cocktail - 1 shot gin, 2 shots rosella syrup, topped with soda and a sprig of rosemary from her garden. In line with her zero-waste philosophy, Tara also uses the strained buds to make a jam that is both sweet and tart.
To help reduce waste in her household, she also got herself a barrel type composter for food scraps. It takes 2-3 months once one side is full and then a rich compost comes out. For Tara, it has taken some effort but generally it has been pretty easy. It's reduced her curbside waste drastically and also nourishes her garden! Win win!
So, if you're thinking of growing your own food, however tall or small, Tara serves as a great example that even in the size-limited spaces that HK is notoriously known for, sowing and growing your own food isn't as hard as it seems.
In her own words, "Start small and don't worry when you kill something - it happens to us all!"
If you'd like to connect with Tara and get to know a little bit more about growing your own food at home, The Bali Box and her many crafts, you can contact her on her instagram @thebalibox.life