When a vegie patch is more than a hobby...

Kelly Tulk and her family live in a quiet suburban street in Blackburn, Victoria. Their house looks like most others on the street, but the free-for-all strawberries growing along the footpath out the front give a little hint as to the nature of the backyard: a sprawling vegie garden, bursting with produce. Citrus and plum trees, leafy greens, capsicums, spring onions, garlic, carrots, beetroot… the Tulk’s backyard garden provides fresh, seasonal produce all year round, and the excess gets shared amongst their church community. The kids (Angie, 11 and Nate, 9) are responsible for certain plots and are learning different ways to promote growth and deter pests.

Being able to tend a vegie patch is a rewarding pursuit for Australian families. But for many families in the majority world, growing your own food is much harder - and there’s far more depending on it.

‘In our own garden we can experiment and play, and see what grows - and still have food on the table. For families living hand-to-mouth, the consequences of poor knowledge and practices are much more dire,’ Kelly shares.

Having worked alongside poor communities in South-East Asia and the Pacific, the Tulk family has witnessed the impact that access to good food and tools to grow it can have for people living in poverty.

‘My first real contact with Tearfund was when I was working overseas and seeing first hand the true partner relationship between a local NGO and Tearfund. Tearfund challenges and inspires me - like I can make a difference, and that there is hope and a future worth fighting for.’

So which is Kelly’s favourite Useful Gift?

‘That’s a hard one… I have a soft spot for the vegie garden, I love the small business loans model and the dignity that a sustainable income can give. But as someone who has lived and traveled in the developing world I am probably most grateful for the gift of a toilet!’

When a vegie patch is more than a hobby...

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