Grow It Local Awards 2023, proudly supported by Seasol.
A BIG thank you to everyone who entered our third annual Grow It Local Awards, a celebration of creativity, community, gardening and fun!
We couldn’t have been more inspired by the breadth, depth and colour of submissions, and to see what’s growing on in communities across the country.
There were a total of 242 entries encompassing car-sized giant pumpkins, tromboncino that looks exactly like a question mark, inspiring lawn-to-thriving-edible-garden transformations and the most inventive chicken names ever – shout out to Kim Poh Urquhart with her politically-themed chooks: Julia Gizzard, Amanda Henstone, Natasha Crop Destroyer, Cheryl Cluck-o and Maxine McFlew. So good!
It was truly no easy task for our judges — Gardening Australia’s Costa Georgiadis, River Cottage's Paul West, World Record-holding large veg grower Kevin Fortey, master gardener and radio presenter Sabrina Hahn, permaculture legend Kat Lavers, urban grower Connie Cao and Google Head of Creative Dave Bowman.
After much deliberation, we are pleased to present the Grow It Local Awards 2023 winners and runners-up.
A special shout out to our partner councils all across Australia, who helped make this year's awards such a fun and vibrant event.
Oh, and just lastly, moving forward we’ll be regularly featuring member patches across our channels so simply add #GrowItlLcal to get involved. Prego!
. Biggest Vegetable Award .
KEVIN FORTEY, 7x Guinness World Record Holder and expert big veg grower, based in Wales
@mybackyardharvest from Northern Beaches, NSW: "Affectionately named Moby Dick, my Atlantic Giant Pumpkin is the biggest one I’ve grown so far- estimated to weigh over 200kg, and has a whopping 320cm circumference- he’s a big boy! 🐋 Grown in my little backyard kitchen garden on the Northern Beaches of Sydney over spring & summer, Moby Dick has battled heat waves, a tonne of rain and a whole lot of powdery mildew but he’s forged on. Yay! 🎉"
Judge's comment: "Excellent pumpkin and it shows how having the right seed with determination, skill and effort creates a monster."
@elaine.tyzack from Rockingham, Western Australia: "#GrowItLocalAwards."
Judge's comment: "I've never seen a radish as big as that. It will need a good deal of cooking, but seeing an oversized vegetable like this hopefully inspires others to have a grow."
@_welcometomygarden_ from Adelaide, South Australia: Me and my giant Rainbow Chard! I promise we didn’t colour coordinate on purpose 😂 This is one of my favourite veggies to grow and here’s why...
🌈 It’s easy to grow! It will grow happily in most soils. You can direct sow seeds or transfer as a young seedling. It grows in my garden for the majority of the year but really thrives in the cooler months! Over summer it will need shade from hot afternoon sun and supplementary watering.
🌈 You can cut and come again! Start by harvesting the outer leaves and it will continue to produce lush leaves for a long period.
🌈 The bugs leave it alone. Which is a nice change as I feel like I’m constantly on pest patrol this time of year!
🌈 It tastes great! I’ve heard it referred to as the poor mans kale but I think it tastes wayyyy better than kale! It has a delicious saltiness to it. We eat it in sandwiches, salads, copped in soups and curries or just lightly steamed.
🌈 It looks great in the garden and on your plate! Such pretty pops of colour and a great plant to fill in any ‘gaps’ in your veggie patch!"
Judge's comment: "That Chard is huge. An ideal summer fan whilst out in the garden."
. Vegetable That Most Looks Like... .
COSTA GEORGIADIS, Gardening Australia host and Australia's favourite gardener!
@ohmygiddyplants from Macedon Ranges, VIC: "Some last minute cheeky entries for the #GrowItLocalAwards, from the Macedon Ranges Shire! Wonkiest Vegetable - this year's entry is my #WWE muscle men doing all the hard work lifting those veg 💪"
Judge's comment: "We all know that eating your veggies take helps you to grow big and strong and live a long healthy life. These pint-size muscle men aren’t afraid of a few bumps and lumps. In fact, looking at those muscles, we could all do with a few more wonky veg in our life."
@_oh_grow_up from Macedon Ranges, VIC: "It’s been a pretty weird month in the potato patch 😳 eyeballs almost fell out of my head when I dug up the spud dog! #GrowItLocalAwards wonky enough for ya? 🤪"
Judge's comment: "We gardeners are no strangers to finding our dogs digging around in the patch, but digging around and finding a potato dog? That’s something that you don’t see every day! I think the expression on this young man’s face sums it up perfectly!"
@plantbasedmale from Bardwell Valley, NSW: "Introducing our entry in this year's #GrowItLocalAwards The Buxom Brassica... "Kim KaRADISHian" Have you ever seen a radish with a better booty? Time for Kim to break the internet again!"
Judge's comment: "This is one spicy radish!! Look out world, here comes Kim KaRADISHan!"
. Sustainable Gardener Award .
CONNIE CAO, urban permaculture gardener growing up a storm in Naarm/Melbourne
@quarteracre.foodforest from South-East QLD: "Made a banana planter out of the old trunk of the blue java banana tree and planted the trunk with lettuce! Banana trees are full of water and nutrients and make a great sustainable planter for the garden. If you are lacking space, you can cut the banana trunk into rounds or leave it upright and grow a vertical garden! The trunks are long-lasting and will eventually break down and go back into the garden. My banana planter is also doubling as a garden edge!"
Judge's comment: "Kelly’s use of an old banana tree to plant out with lettuce is a genius way of creating a garden bed for quick-growing annuals like lettuce! It’s pretty much compost in action that will break down into nutrients for the soil, creating a closed-loop, sustainable system where old plants feed new plants. The fact that it acts as a garden border at the same time makes this a fabulous winning entry for the Sustainable Gardener category!"
@the.gourmanticgarden from Sydney, NSW: "How to Set Up a Claytons Compost in a Tiny Courtyard Garden 🪱Take a discarded worm farm from council clean up and save it from landfill. 🪴 Squeeze it in a shaded spot in your tiny courtyard garden. ☕️ Set it up with a layer of cardboard from a delivery box, spent coffee grounds from your coffee machine and a handful of worms from your other worm farm. 🍃Feed it *exclusively* from the garden: garden trimmings, off cuts of herbs, leafy veg that aren’t fit to consume, chopped up veg that some critter has claimed, dry leaves for browns, you get the idea. 💩 Harvest black gold and put it back in the garden. ♻️It’s a cyclical closed loop system that I’m calling the Claytons Compost: It’s the compost you have when you don’t have a compost. Why Claytons? Anyone remember the Claytons ad from the 80s with Jack Thompson in a bar having a non-alcoholic drink, “the drink you have when you're not having a drink”? Sustainable gardening in small spaces is about getting creative with new ideas and in true Aussie spirit (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), giving them a go."
Judge's comment: "Corinne’s entry shows that it’s possible to create your own compost even in a tiny courtyard. Creating your own compost is an important step in gardening more sustainably as it’s taking food and garden waste that would otherwise have been taken off-site and making it into something valuable for your garden, all through the forces of nature. I also love how Corinne inspires by sharing tips on how together started."
. Australia's Best Chicken Name .
DAVE BOWMAN, Head of Creative at Google and lover of puns (chicken-related and otherwise).
"This year saw a strong contingent of entries from across the country. From the funky to the punny, the lateral to the literal and the avant-garde to the strictly sensible, this year's bird names had us all in stitches. We can't wait to see where things head next year. So, well done to all who entered. It's great to see home growers taking such pride in their epic output. B'gurk!"
(And, just quietly, our judge Dave also gave out NUMEROUS honourable mentions in this category, too many to list here! Check out the full list over this way…)
@sashthomas_ from Adelaide, SA — Meryl Cheep: "These gals have survived 2 weeks so I think it's safe to name them... welcome, Hilary Fluff, Hennifer Aniston and Meryl Cheep. Meryl has the RBF down pat, real Devil Wears Prada vibes. 💅"
Judge's comment: "After a rough start in life when her mum, the aptly-named 'Mother Clucker', rejected her and her siblings, Meryl Cheep is in fine form these days. Not afraid to strut her stuff with devil wears prada vibes, Meryl Cheep is one stylish bird. Big shout out to her siblings too, who almost took out the top prize with their equally fantastic monikers - 'Hennifer Aniston' and 'Hilary Fluff'.
@meghamfarms from Western Sydney, NSW — Chick Norris: "These four fluffy butts have grown so much so quickly, and mumma Eggwina is doing such a good job! We have finally named the chicks in time for the @growitlocal's best chicken name competition! Introducing Chickira, Chick Norris, Chickpea, and Chick-eel O’neil. Aren’t they so cute 🐥 😍."
Judge's comment: "From 80's action hero to modern-day chicken-legend, Chick Norris has it all. That's one tough bird. And she'd need to be to outpace siblings with names like 'Chickira', 'Chickpea', and 'Chick-eel O’neil', all of which certainly deserve to be up in lights too."
. Homegrown Harvest Award .
KAT LAVERS, creator of The Plummery, a food-producing urban permaculture paradise in Naarm/Melbourne
@weps_kitchengarden from Warrnambool East, VIC: "🌈🌈🌈Eat the rainbow… The Warrnambool East Primary School Kitchen Garden entry in the “Homegrown Harvest” category in the 2023 #GrowItLocalAwards @growitlocal Students participate in weekly kitchen garden classes growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing. We are a school in the city of Warrnambool in South West Victoria."
Judge's comment: "This entry celebrates an impressive diversity of fruit and veg, in a display that's simple but also fun and colourful. Eating a rainbow of produce sets us up for a healthy life and it is fantastic to see your school garden growing healthy kids too! Congratulations, WEPS!
@firsttrueleaves from Melbourne, VIC: "Autumn harvests are created in Summer. I’ve realised how much I may look like a farmer here but believe me this is all homegrown from our suburban backyard. Notes - Golden nugget pumpkins: productive plant with little real estate requirements, great for small spaces gardeners. - Cucumelons are back - 5 plants died from seed however this one plant self-seeded and survived! Guess Mother Nature knew what I wanted. - The last of the weird and wonky end-of-season cucumbers before we cut our losses. - More late-planted tomatoes, only need a slight blush of colour and I take them inside to continue the ripening process. Otherwise, between the birds and caterpillars, there would be any left for me. - Capsicums, mini bell peppers and habaneros! Are slowly but surely arriving now. With minimal sun we are getting half-red capsicums but I’m okay with this."
Judge's comment: "As well as showing the potential of a suburban garden and sharing some handy tips, I really love that this entry embraces imperfect produce. As gardeners, we know that weird and wonky cucumbers and half-ripened capsicums are all part of the deal, and the whole harvest is worthy of appreciation. Thank you, @firsttrueleaves :)"
. School Garden Award - growing the future .
PAUL WEST, chef, food grower, TV and radio presenter, and Grow It Local co-founder
COSTA GEORGIADIS, Gardening Australia host and Australia's favourite gardener!
FIRST PLACE - TIED, TWO WINNERS
@davidwalsman from Clovelly Public School, Waverley, NSW: "We’re entering our 'Clovelly Farm' at Clovelly Public School in the #GrowItLocalAwards veggie garden awards for best school veggie garden. The @veggiebuddiesclasses are taught in this outdoor classroom to the whole school. The garden includes a composting bay used by the school canteen, a seedling greenhouse for bed seedlings and class experiments, student tables attached to each bed, a self-watering wicking system under each bed and a fully equipped garden shed along with an adjacent seated outdoor classroom area."
@nfss_habitat_group from New Farm State School, Brisbane, QLD: "We have spent a few years building Little Patch, one of three edible gardens at our school. To celebrate our various achievements across the gardens, we're thrilled to be entering the #GrowItLocalAwards in the category for 'School Garden Award – growing the future'. Our local council area is the Brisbane City Council, which has also supported our community gardening endeavours.We have spent a few years building Little Patch, one of three edible gardens at our school. To celebrate our various achievements across the gardens, we're thrilled to be entering the #GrowItLocalAwards in the category for "School Garden Award – growing the future". Our local council area is the Brisbane City Council, which has also supported our community gardening endeavours.
Judges' comments: "Costa and I mulled over this one for a very long time, we went back, we went forth, we went for a peppermint tea and then came to the conclusion that we couldn’t choose just one winner in this hotly contested category. Both of these groups of young go-getters are taking their learning outdoors, getting their hands in the soil and making the world a happier, healthier and more delicious place."
@rockoanglican from Hillman, WA: "Sprouts has a couple of weekly habits. We start each session by sharing the highs and lows of our weeks. We then work hard to care for the garden and for each other. At the end of each Sprouts session we put our hands together, admire the work we've been able to do and close with a big round of applause. 👏👏👏👏👏 Happy days."
Judge's comment: "The Rocko sprouts ticked all the boxes for an amazing group of young gardeners, but what we really liked about this group is that the garden isn’t just a place for growing and learning, it’s a place to come together and share the highs and lows of life so that we can all grow together!"
. Why I Love My Patch - because only a grower knows the feeling .
SABRINA HAHN, Perth-based master gardener, award-winning radio presenter, podcaster and writer.
Diggin Urban from Brisbane, QLD: "How it started 7 months ago. To see the space transform and continue to transform is rewarding. Sitting in the middle of my suburb and I can breath in the peace. Neighbours are drawn to see what’s growing. This is why I love my patch. I’m connected to both my community and my nature. It’s a win-win."
Judge's comment: "Love the way this garden is a wonderful example of just what is possible in an urban space, it serves as an example to the whole community what can be done with a love of ecological systems and a bit of hard work. The explanations of the importance of soil health and the connection between flora and fauna is inspiring and shows it in practice. I have no doubt the entire neighbourhood loves watching this garden evolve."
@rewildingsuburbia from Cockburn, WA: "The desire to grow my own food was the reason I started gardening, and boy has it escalated quickly! I still grow a lot of food, but I also fell in love with native plants, insect stalking, photography and my ability to tap into my inner MacGyver when I need to build something for the garden. I honestly love the space I’m creating and let me tell you why I love my patch for the #growitlocalawards because it’s more than a patch… it’s our provider. It provides: - Food for my family - Organic matter for the soil and all that feed below it - Endless therapy - Habitat to support local biodiversity - An area to play and make mud pies - Connection to nature - Native pockets to bring in native beneficial and predatory wildlife without the use of sprays - Shade - A full body workout - Continuous learning opportunities - Flowers to feed a toddlers floral addiction - A connection to a like minded community - Inspiration to learn new skills."
Judge's comment: "The importance of insects in gardens cannot be underestimated - this garden is designed to maximise ideal environments for insects to breed and thrive. In an era of insect extinctions this garden brings the beauty of insects to the ordinary gardener and offers education to help others realise the vital role they play on the planet. Not only are insects essential for our food plants that are in turn are food for others."
. Homegrown Hero Award .
PAUL WEST, chef, food grower, TV and radio presenter, and Grow It Local co-founder
@mygardenineden from Two Wells, SA, nominating gardener Anthea Whitbourne: "This is my nomination for the my Homegrown Hero Award with the #GrowItLocalAwards - Anthea Whitbourne I met her through her volunteer work with the Two Wells Community Garden and Two Wells Nursery. But she is so much more than that… 🌻 need power tools or someone to operate - no worries, she has that covered 🌻 the gate at the Community Garden needs sanding and repainting - Anthea is on it. Her only question is whether I would like the old paint completely stripped? 🌻 does your child love honey? No problem, here have a tub for free! 🌻 oh you’re interested in learning how canning works - no problem, I can show you! 🌻 need seedlings for the community garden or your own garden, just say how many and I’ll bring them! 🌻 needing to fertilise the beds at the Community Garden? Oh and at home too? That’s fine, I’ll bring enough bags of aged chicken manure and bedding for everyone! 🌻 need to load, move and spread 18 wheelbarrows worth of mulch on a 40° day, Anthea is all over it! 🌻 a cup of tea after working in the community garden is always accompanied with a homemade treat! Thanks Anthea! 🌻 need help to prepare for the Market being hosted at the Community Garden? No problem, I’m available any day to help! Anthea has already started over 70 seedlings to sell on the day! Plus the kilos and kilos of home grown produce she donated! And this is just from the last couple of months. Not to mention the work she does for the volunteer run iconic Two Wells Craft Shop! I could go on and on about this POWERHOUSE of a woman but really, she is just simply amazing and an inspiration. - always so happy and nothing is ever a bother. I want to be more like Anthea!"
Judge's comment: "We all need a hero, and this category was absolutely packed with them. What made Anthea stand out to me was the generosity of her sharing her decades of experience. She’s clearly a doer that isn’t daunted by any task no matter how big or small. Every community needs an Anthea!"
@froggycreek nominating gardener Cameron Lund from Ipswich, QLD: "I nominated the awesome Cameron Lund for his super efforts with Ipswich Plant Swap, inspiring home growers and helping them in their journeys."
Judge's comment: "That’s the thing about heroes, they’re doers. I love how Cam has taken matters into his own hands with the Ipswich Plant Swap. No point in complaining, may as well get stuck in and get as many people growing and loving their gardens as possible. Love your work Cam!"
@weps_kitchengarden from Warrnambool, VIC, nominating gardener Jimmy Boxer: "Our @weps_kitchengarden entry in the ‘home-grown hero’ category of the 2023 #GrowItLocalAwards @growitlocal is our school gardener Mr Jimmy Boxer. He is a very well-respected legend of our school and has been the school gardener for over 30+ years. He’s the first to school and last to leave every single day. Jimmy pours his heart and soul into his job and if you ask him why, his answer is always “I do it for the kids”. As well as the entire grounds, the Kitchen Garden is abundant and thriving today due to the hard work Jimmy has put into it over many years and still continues to do so now. Jimmy is pictured here helping deliver fresh produce boxes from the garden to the office where parents collect them. Thanks Jimmy, you’re our homegrown hero at WEPS and always will be. Warrnambool East Primary School is in the City of Warrnambool in South West Victoria.
Judge's comment: "More than 30 years in the job, pouring his heart and soul into the school grounds and the kitchen garden and doing it all for the kids, what a legend!"
A huge congratulations to all our winners and runners-up!
massive Seasol prize pack will soon be on the way to all our champions, along with a free three-month subscription to our very own Grow It Local Seed Service.
Three cheers for these local-growing legends! 📣🏅🌱💚
Our 2023 Grow It Local Awards were proudly supported by Seasol.