Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Natasha Grogan, I am the founder of The Sage Garden a Melbourne based business teaching children to grow. I am married with two babes, 3 and 5, a dog and a cat.
What is your expertise and experience and why did you choose to work in this field?
I am a trained Steiner and Conventional Primary School teacher with qualifications in horticulture. I have been working with children for 20 years!! I work in this field to connect children with nature, to teach them to grow their own organic food and to show them what they are capable of!
What is your favorite garden in the world, designer, architect?
Any garden I see where food growing is my favourite garden. However I do have many, many garden books with little tags hanging out of them marking my favourite gardens. It might be a surprise that the zen garden in Ryoan-ji (although I have never seen it) is one of my all time favs. It calls to me. I also like to visit the Rhododendron Gardens in Victoria each season cause she changes so much over the year.
What are your 3 favorite plants and 3 favorite flowers and why?
Favourite plant is so hard, it would be easier to list the plants I don’t like. I am currently having a real love affair with succulents. In my garden I have watermelons growing up the flowers of my succulents and it looks like a dream. My favourite flowers are currently grevillea, tulips and proteas. I love flowers, in another life I would have been a florist. I have arranged the flowers for lots of friends weddings, including my own. My favourite flowers tend to reflect the most recent weddings I have done!
What edible foods do you most like growing in your own garden and why?
I love growing lettuce and herbs so much because I loath buying them and they are so, so easy to grow. I love growing corn, beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and pumpkins because they are the ones my kids will always eat.
What impact does your area of expertise have on individuals with a medical condition?
Over the years I have worked with many children with special needs, especially children on the autism spectrum. I have found gardening with all children to be such a rewarding job however there has been many stand out experiences working with children on the spectrum. Children who find it hard to socialise, find it hard to be in a loud busy classroom, children who take great joy in single focused activities, children who are have strength and energy all have a special place in the garden. Being able to identify the job or task that will best suit the individual child is the key to enjoyable garden education, and indeed the key to that child feeling included and a part of the whole. It is incredibly rewarding and often lots of fun.
What I do know is, gardening is medicine. I am prone to anxiety and gardening reconnects me to the earth, it settles my mind and redirects my energy into moving my physical body. I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t benefit for a potter in the garden from time to time.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
What do you like to do to unwind?
I really do garden to unwind. I also love seeing live music, going for drives with the fam. and catching up with mates. I am also getting better and not doing anything at all to unwind, just chilling at home.
What is the most rewarding or enjoyable part of your career?
Watching any child make a break through or a discovery is the best. Whether it be a child making the connection between the food they see in the shop and the food they grow, or a child holding a worm for the first time and laughing. Any of the firsts are amazing!
What do you think gardens will look like in the year 2100?
I honestly don’t know. This world is moving so fast. I guess it is my dream that will be common place to grow your own food, that neighbours are sharing crops and crops space and we are all planting beautiful things to keep our world happy and healthy.
Which garden has had the biggest positive impact on you?
Probably the first school garden I ran for the Stephanie Alexander Foundation. It was the first time I put all my training together and the first time I had to care for such a big space and to try and grow enough food for all the children. It was a huge experience and full of many lessons.
What is your garden preference type i.e. tropical, cottage, coastal etc
I see the beauty in all gardens, I especially see the beauty when I can tell somebody else loves that space. I love seeing plants working together that you don’t normally see. I love seeing people breaking the rules.
What would you purchase that would provide the biggest impact in a garden?
An irrigation system. Consistent watering is key to growing your own food.
(Image Credits: Image 1 by Lillie Thompson, Image 2 Natasha teaching Finn and little Max how to plant their seedlings! Photo – Brooke Holm. Image 3 Camilla and Finn harvesting beetroots and lettuces. Photo – Brooke Holm)
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