As a new addition to the seemingly quiet, but fruitfully alive town in Victoria, Australia, the urban to rural transition has been one of challenges and growth; the release of old and the curious-yet-timid acceptance of the new. From the bustling, momentous, and at times relentless city of Toronto, the adjustment to a slow-paced, nature-surrounded, close-knit community has come with a slow and steady approach; understanding the ebb and flow a little more each day.
As the summer comes to a close and the harvest approaches, the backyard garden, complimented by the three chickens [chooks!], has been bursting with excitement, showing off all the hard work that has colourfully paid off. Don’t get me wrong- the garden has been offering [enormous] zucchinis, squash, tomatoes and more for a couple of months now, but it is beginning to look a little different; the broccoli poking its head out, the peppers [capsicums] shiny and bright, and the corn standing strong.
The accessibility of a garden and chooks is something extremely valuable to me, as it comes at the high cost of space in a city like Toronto [ and the cheeky bylaw that prohibits chickens on residential properties]. Not to mention the common knowledge- of planting seasons, resources required [human and otherwise], and gardening maintenance- is often distant for urban dwellers that likely have not had much connection to the land. My first time seeing a large veggie garden was met with confusion. The gardens I have known are ordered, manicured, and aesthetically pleasing, while these are chaotic, messy, and a thriving ecosystem in itself.
As a recent graduate from the Environment and Urban Sustainability program at Ryerson University, moving to rural Australia has given me a deeper understanding of the concepts and theories that I studied in school. This comes in many forms, such as locals casually discussing the habits of birds and [highly controversial] bats in the region, with wildlife surrounding and impacting everyday life. Wildfires pose a real threat to the inhabitants and ecosystems of this area, as natural bushfires and controlled burns often spread relentlessly through rural areas. The accessibility and involvement in local food production, as mentioned above, has given insight to the urban gardening initiatives (rooftop, vertical, and windowsill alike) that I became well-versed with throughout my time in Toronto. And lastly, the irony that the places most connected to the environment rely so heavily on automobiles and fossil fuels, as alternative transportation infrastructure scarcely exists.
While memories of and longing for Toronto are a frequent thought in my mind, I have found myself enjoying this slow paced, calm, and nature-infused lifestyle. Although when I visit Melbourne I still feel the rush of the city, the vibrant life buzzing, and the comfort from knowing that most experiences- bookstores, community events and gatherings, coffeeshops, opshops, bars- are nearby, I still feel the deep exhale upon returning to what I now call home.
By Claire Stevenson- Blythe
Please note that opinions expressed are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and values of The Blank Page.