NATUROPATH and herbal medicine practitioner Tory Breheny has written a book to bring home the message to the younger generation that gardens can be more than flowers and trees.
“Gardens are the perfect learning environment for our children,” she says. “They really are nature’s pharmacy. Not only do gardens sustain us with delicious and healthy food, they are a source of tried and tested natural remedies for everyday ailments.
“Our parents, grandparents and elderly neighbours can be a library of practical and traditional knowledge about plants and herbs for a healthy life. Let’s not lose that vital source of information before it’s too late.”
Breheny, of Mt Eliza, describes her book, The Incredible Edible Garden, as a “magical tale” about Annie, a young girl who lives in an inner city apartment surrounded by grey buildings.
“When Annie comes across a walled garden filled with lush grass, fruits, vegetables and chickens she meets Rosemary, who teaches her about the healing powers of nature. Soon Annie’s whole family is involved in creating their own rooftop garden – and learning to relax.”
Inspired by her own children and a belief that life should be enjoyed with health, vitality, enthusiasm and hope, Breheny says she wants to give young readers a taste of a future “where everyone knows that the natural world around them is where they can find healing and health”.
“Imagine a time when, instead of reaching for the paracetamol for a headache, we grab our scissors and head out to the garden to create a natural remedy. Mother Nature has just about every recipe for health we need.”
Breheny says she was determined to get the book finished despite running her Mt Eliza naturopathy practice.
“I would even be writing while parked in the car during school pick up time,” she says.
The illustrations in her book are by Jemma Phillips, a Somerville-based artist and children’s nanny. When Breheny came across Jemma’s water colour paintings at Mt Eliza Primary School’s Christmas Fair she knew “instantly” they would bring her story to life.
“I am originally from England so I pictured the garden as a typical cottage garden, colourful and overgrown. For the cityscape I wanted to capture just how grey a city can be. Tory loved these ideas as they fitted her words so well,” Phillips said.
Breheny said several Mornington Peninsula kindergartens were planning “incredible edible garden picnics as a fun learning activity” while she explores other ways of sharing the book’s health and healing messages with schools.
She also urges people to plant their own edible gardens.
“It doesn’t need to be huge or cost lots of money. All you need is sunlight, water and good quality soil. Start with a vegetable plot or just a few herb pots on the windowsill.
“Summer is the ideal time to plan your garden so you’re ready to plant in autumn.”
Copies of The Incredible Edible Garden available at www.littlesteps.com.au