Health and wellbeing

Balcony gardening for spring with Indira Naidoo

The climate activist and broadcaster shares her tips and tricks for growing food on your apartment balcony or terrace.

Balcony gardening

Growing your own food is a skill many of us would like to master. But if you lack the gift of green thumbs or a large space to work on a veggie patch, it can seem like a daunting task.

As part of the City of Sydney’s greening strategy, we’re helping residents transform even the smallest of spaces with a little help from broadcaster Indira Naidoo.

Join Indira Naidoo in a webinar on Tuesday 19 October with Sydney City Farm and learn about edible balcony gardening for spring.

She’s the first to admit that when she floated the idea of creating a veggie patch, 13 storeys in the air, with no experience, friends thought she could be having a mid-life crisis.

“’Have you gone completely mad? Can we organise some counselling for you?’ were some of the more humorous responses to my idea,” Naidoo said.

But the motivation behind her plot was much more serious. As a broadcaster and television anchor, she’d witnessed increasing civil unrest overseas over food shortages.

After a stint with a food agency at the United Nations, Naidoo returned to her Sydney apartment and set about to make a change.

Research and planning paid dividends for Indira Naidoo, her small balcony produced 70kg of food in a year.
Research and planning paid dividends for Indira Naidoo, her small balcony produced 70kg of food in a year.

“Growing your own food is not only a pleasurable activity but essential to ensuring our continuing food security. Food security is the ability to have access to safe, affordable food. As our cities sprawl over our agricultural land and climate change affects weather patterns, we will need to find new spaces to grow our food,” Naidoo said.

Rising to the balcony gardening challenge Naidoo carefully planned out and researched what was needed to make the balcony garden work.

It was a move which paid off. In 2011 Ms Naidoo produced 70kg of food on her tiny balcony in the inner-city suburb of Potts Point.

“Of course there were some disasters: after a 6-month wait my garlic crop failed to materialise from under its bushy leaves. And my broccoli bolted in the unseasonal heat leaving just a spray of buttercup yellow flowers,” said Naidoo.

But she’s described the experience as overwhelmingly positive and the experience formed the subject of Naidoo’s book ‘The Edible Balcony’. She is now a passionate advocate for the grow-your-own-food movement and will be sharing her experiences with gardeners of all levels in the Sydney City Farm webinar.

“There are thousands of acres of growing space on the roofs of city buildings, on terraces, and balconies – and I urge Australians to embrace these new food growing technologies.”

Check out the full line-up of Sydney City Farm webinars covering topics like nature play, backyard chickens, worm farms and more. Webinars are free, but bookings are essential.

Published 8 October 2021