Maria Ciavarella is keen a gardener and has been for over 20 years. Her garden, that spans almost half an acre, is full of a wide range of produce. Maria’s mulberries, fresh herbs and edible flowers graced the table at our Urban Forage and Feast, an incredible crowd sourced dinner that highlighted local Melbourne producers.

She finds growing her own produce satisfying and enjoys the convenience, flavour and freshness that it offers. Once harvested, she enjoys eating, sharing and preserving her produce.

Although exposed to gardening from an early age, Maria’s passion for gardening only emerged when she was able to start her own garden. “I grew up in a family who did this as a matter of fact and so knew it was not too difficult to do, but wasn’t particularly interested until I got my own patch of dirt. Then the inner peasant came out and I wanted to grow everything!”

A 16 year old mulberry tree stands as a feature her garden in Donvale. Fond childhood memories of climbing her uncle’s mulberry tree prompted her to plant one soon after moving into her suburban block. This tree is now enjoyed by another generation, and providing many more childhood memories.

Maria’s words of advice to other gardeners: “Be patient with your efforts and persevere. Patience is needed because things don’t happen overnight (except snails marauding your tender seedlings); and perseverance because things often don’t turn out as planned. Just learn from the experience but don’t give up.”

Maria runs My Green Garden workshops in her home and garden in Donvale to teach people to how to grow and preserve produce. Topics range from setting up and maintaining gardens, sowing from and saving seeds, composting, worm farms, safer pest control and preserving produce.

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A big thank you to our Melbourne volunteers Jasmine Chan, Kyra Hewitt and Alan Bechaz for bringing us this series. 

Image from My Green Garden

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