Proof gardens make us happier and healthier

One of our favourite reads over summer has been ‘Happy City’, a book by Charles Montgomery. The book draws on initiatives in urban design that have transformed the lives of urban populations. It’s been a fascinating read and to the dear friend who brought it to our attention, we are eternally grateful!

At Victory Gardens, we see first-hand the benefits that gardens bring to the lives of people of all ages. The Hunter St Mall Victory Garden, once a tired and uninspiring spot in the Newcastle CBD is now a lively, rambling edible garden, enjoyed by many living and working in the area. Our corporate, residential and aged care installations have also been well received by staff, families and elderly residents.

But what is at the heart of why people love getting their hands dirty? We decided to dig a little deeper and explore the scientific evidence around gardening and its impact on health and wellbeing. What better place to start than Montgomery’s book.

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“Happy City” by Charles Montgomery shows us how gardens, big and small, perform an important role in our health and wellbeing

A Greek Garden of Eden

At a recent visit to ‘that’ large hardware store, a pallet of fruit trees caught my eye – mango, cherry, persimmon, pomegranate and fig to name a few. Now we are a fig loving family, especially the six year old, who declares she loves them as much as blue cheese (God help us!).

As I delved into the green gloss to explore the varieties in front of me (Brown Turkey, Black Genoa…hmmm), a low, soft Mediterranean voice behind said, “The white fig. Only the white fig. They are sweeter.” I turned around to THE most gorgeous couple standing behind me, eager to share their knowledge of this succulent fruit.

Pause to celebrate: Victory Gardens turns 1!

…We can’t believe we almost missed this auspicious occasion!!! Yep! It suddenly occurred to us while on a short break that Victory Gardens first birthday was just about to pass by unmarked! Whoops!

It has been an incredible journey getting our social enterprise off the ground and wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of our supporters and collaborators.

When we embarked on the creative process of establishing Victory Gardens we knew we wanted to revolutionise Newcastle. We wanted to provide simple solutions for city food production. Twelve months on we now have projects rolling out in residential, corporate, aged care and public spaces. We couldn’t be happier.

Our placemaking project at the Hunter St Mall has enabled us to meet many like-minded people. We hope this is the beginning of many more projects like this.

So here’s a little visual diary of the last 12 months which acts as a reflection of how far we have come in a short amount of time and how much further we have to go.

Explore our website for more information about the packages we offer for you to start your own edible garden.

Original sketches by the wonderful Liz at


Experimenting with wicking beds with Group D at The Esplanade, Newcastle Beach


Artwork by Pocket Design ready to go up at The Hunter St Mall


Hunt & Gather Markets


Rooftop planting in the city


East End Edibles with Connectability Disability Services


Hunter St Mall Victory Garden


Recipes for success for community gardening

The Victory Gardens team has been gathering as much local information as possible about community gardening as we embark on a process of establishing a small edible garden in the Hunter St Mall in Newcastle Australia.


Growing is underway in the Hunter St Mall

In the several months it has taken to realise such a dream, we have engaged with many community gardening enthusiasts, change agents and place makers who have offered a hand and their knowledge,  to help set this inner city garden off on the right foot. It feels good to have tapped into this generous and lively community as we approach spring and the launch of the garden in September.

There’s a quiet revolution in the suburbs

I reckon we live in a pretty stock-standard Aussie suburb.

Lambton is one of Newcastle’s older suburbs having formed around the Lambton Colliery in 1871.

It’s a pretty suburb with lovely parks and a real sense of space. Wide suburban streets feature, some tree-lined, some not, a cycleway and plenty of playing fields.

Down the laneways and back streets of Lambton you’ll see a mix of old and new houses, a smattering of trampolines, the odd chook shed and choko vine. I have regularly walked these streets for more than eleven years and it has struck me in recent times that Lambton is changing.