Back to Basics: How our family's small backyard project turned into a community one

When our columnist Lydia Harvey and her family set out on their challenge to turn their backs on the supermarket and live solely out of their garden, they never imagined what the ripple effects of this would be throughout their community. In turn, they would be overwhelmed with the generosity of those around them.

Lydia Harvey's free food stand. Source: 1 NEWS

Who would have thought as we move through the year and as our little backyard project started to really take off that it would have such an effect on the local community.

One hundred days ago I had no idea the ripple effects of one idea could have such an impact and that so many people would want to get involved.

Through word of mouth, our little family challenge has reached the ears of those in the Whanganui community and with that the kindness and generosity of strangers has been shown to us.

Thank you note left for Lydia and her family for the free vegetables they offer outside their home. Source: 1 NEWS

Not only are they giving us produce to help us through the year, but these kind strangers are helping another little project I started in the hopes that we could spread free surplus produce throughout the community.

This second project of ours is a free food stand which we've built so we can freely share with others in our community instead of saving our surplus.

Orchards and local growers who have heard about our project have contacted us when their produce starts dropping, asking us to pick them and redistribute.

Local kindys, charities and community groups have all benefited from the generosity of these growers and in return for all our hard work we have generously been gifted baking ingredients.

As interest is growing, people are offering other services and skills, and we are fast realising between us all we are resource rich.

Building a warm farm in a friend's garden. Source: 1 NEWS

Not only are we sharing time and skills to help others as a community, we're also coming together more and forming closer friendships.

We have "hump day" potluck dinners where we share recipes and ideas.

It seems to us that there is enough of everything for everybody here if we combine what we have; instead of "me and mine" we have adapted a more open approach of quite simply "ours" which makes everyone a winner.

Lydia's Thai pumpkin soup. Source: 1 NEWS

From Lydia's Garden: Thai Pumpkin Soup

Nothing beats a slow cooked home-made soup when the cooler nights and wet days set in. Lydia has the perfect autumnal recipe for those days.

2 roughly chopped white onions

1/2 a bulb of peeled trimmed garlic
1 small chili (deseed if wanting a milder version)
2 tsps. of fine grated ginger
1 tsp. of olive oil
1 deseeded and peeled chopped pumpkin
2 cups of vegetable stock (until level is almost at the top of the pumpkin)
1 can of coconut cream
1 tsp. salt
Lime Juice

Lightly pour the olive oil over the onions, garlic, chili and ginger in your crock pot and cook on a high temperature for an hour.

Once the onions are transparent, add the pumpkin and vegetable stock and let it cook through for about six hours on low.

Once cooled, add in the can of coconut cream, a teaspoon of salt and blend well. 

Before serving, top with a blend of coriander and lime juice for decoration and to add that extra bit of flavour.