State Opposition Leader Steven Marshall was the Founding Chairman of Compost for Soils and is a keen gardener who had fi ve organic garden beds in his previous home but unfortunately he’s just moved house.
State Opposition Leader Steven Marshall was the Founding Chairman of Compost for Soils and is a keen gardener who had five organic garden beds in his previous home but unfortunately he’s just moved house. “I moved from this 120-year-old cottage in Kensington Park where I had five big organic garden beds in the backyard down to this newer unit in Norwood, which has got a very small courtyard garden,” Marshall explains. “So, I’ve got a couple of tubs with a few things planted in them. I’ll probably get going with those in spring and plant more but I’m not as productive as I have been, which is quite depressing.” As a child Marshall’s family had a vegie patch but he wasn’t an excellent gardener growing up. “We always had the obligatory crooked carrots that we grew and silverbeet. I’ve remained a big fan of silverbeet ever since. I became more involved when I joined Jeffries Group and learnt more about organics and recycling. I met our fi rst Thinker in Residence in South Australia, Herbert Girardet, and he talked about organics and recycling. We had this linear metabolism if you like, we’d tend to harvest stuff from regional, rural South Australia, consume it in the city and then those organics tended to go into landfill. He talked about closed loop recycling; we needed to return those organics back to the soil where they came from originally. It was an interest of mine. So, I eventually set up a group in South Australia called Compost for Soils, which was trying to develop end markets for recycled products. We have this philosophy in South Australia of everyone putting out their green bins and we recycled it, turned into a product but there was no end market. Compost for Soils was about creating a viable end market for that recycled product.” Compost for Soils is now a national program and the Member for Norwood was part of the original working group that set up the Norwood Community Garden. Everything Marshall grew in his former backyard was on a completely organic basis. “There was a great guy that I met through the community garden who really was an expert in finding different varieties that grew extremely well in our soils and he advised me, really helped me set that up. It was a great sense of joy to walk out to the backyard. “I was pretty self-suffi cient to be quite honest, I’m a vegetarian a couple of days a week, not a full-on vegetarian but you could easily live by what was in your backyard. There’s a movement called Meat Free Mondays and a lot of people say you should have a specifi c day of the week because then it’s very regular. I’m not very organised because my life is very much about different functions that I attend on a daily basis but I try to just have a couple of days [meat free]. “My backyard changed quite considerably over the 20 years I was there. When I fi rst moved there I was a bachelor, so it was important to have a big lawn so I could have big parties. After I got married we had the cubby house for when we had kids, and then in recent years, after getting more involved in the organic sector, we decided to make it productive. I really liked the concept, remembering what my childhood was like with the family vegie garden; it’s a great sense of achievement growing your own food. It’s that sense of being a little bit self-suffi cient. It always tastes better when you’ve grown it yourself.” stevenmarshall.com.au Images: Photography by Andreas Heuer