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In Conversation With Paul West

Passionate about growing farm-fresh food, Paul West is encouraging local residents to use gardening as food for the soul. We chat to Paul about his culinary journey, most memorable backyard moments and resourceful methods to start a greenhouse.

Tell us about your journey into the food world. Where did it begin and how?

I started as a young adult with no trade and university degree, working odd jobs in kitchens and on farms, as well as a bit of WWOOFING (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) as I travelled around Australia. So it didn’t come to me as a bolt of inspiration but more as a series of jobs and experiences that progressively deepened my understanding and appreciation of the food world.

What has been your most memorable food moment (if you could name just one)?

There are so many, from oysters fresh out of water, produce fresh from the garden, Michelin restaurants in Europe, hatted restaurants, animals I’ve hunted, fish I’ve caught, animals I’ve raised, remote campsite cook-ups over the fire and under the stars! The list goes on and they are all memorable.

What are you currently enjoying eating, cooking and experimenting with?

I love eating fresh from the garden. You can’t compare the flavour to anything you buy in the shops and it’s constantly changing from day to day and season to season. The garden always necessitates a bit of creativity as you try to experiment with using the whole vegetable and managing gluts when they inevitably roll around.

Please share your top tips for building a mini greenhouse

For greenhouses you want sunshine, shelter from the wind and some thermal mass to hold the sun’s heat after it goes down. They can be as elaborate as those off-the-shelf glass masterpieces that look like they are on loan from Kew Gardens, or as simple as a clean 1.25-litre soft-drink bottle with the bottom cut off before being placed over an individual seedling as its own personal mini greenhouse. I also love using old windows as cold frames (a type of greenhouse) and it’s as simple as laying the window up against a north-facing wall and popping some plants in behind.

How do you think food can play a role in shaping a better and more sustainable future for us all?

The food we eat is everyone on Earth’s most significant interaction with the world around them, whether it be directly or indirectly. Taken further, food grown by your own hands has the potential to make every person a micro landscape manager or a custodian of their own treasured little patch of earth, even if it’s as simple as a few plants on a windowsill or a patch in your local community garden. I believe that backyard food growers can make the world a better place, one patch at a time.

What’s next for you?

It’s always a mixed bag for me. A bit of adventure, a bit of work, a lot time with my family and a lot of time in the garden. I’m also a cofounder of Grow it Local. We are a business that aims to get everyone growing their own food to make life happier, healthier and more delicious. We’ve got something massive planned for spring 2023 with Grow it Local and lining all the ducks in a row for this will be my main focus.

For more, visit @_paul_west_ on Instagram.

WellBeing Team

WellBeing Team

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