Street Champion Jacob.
Project: The Growing Together Project
Suburb: Semaphore, South Australia
Jacob is a Street Champion who joined the Growing Together project through the Port Environment Centre, where neighbours help each other green their gardens, with trees and native understory plants.
The Growing Together Project was a pilot project that launched in July 2022, with support from the City of Port Adelaide Enfield.
It’s an example of an In Our Street project, where the goal has been set for you.
The goal – to increase tree canopy and native biodiversity in your street.
A few great people, like Jacob, put their hands up to rally their neighbours around increasing urban tree canopy.
The City of PAE provided a variety of trees for people to plant in their gardens, and the people matched this with a contribution of native understory plants.
Jacob grew up in the area (Semaphore) but had recently moved into a place of his own and when the Growing Together Project came up, it felt like it was a great opportunity to meet some new green-minded pals living nearby. Armed with pamphlets and info sheets, he felt a little more comfortable in getting out there to meet some new local plant pals. Jacob was especially motivated by a recent panel chat with members of the PAE and Charles Sturt Council on local heat mapping. It made big issues (climate change) seem not so frightening. Helping break down ugly phrases like ‘habit destruction’ into palatable chunks of info, which were then positioned with possibilities (i.e private land planting). Things got a little more tangible and a lot less overwhelming. Some of the basic stuff he learnt, he shared with his neighbours.
“Door knocking was a little scary,” Jacob said. “People have babies, dogs and are private for all kinds of reasons.” All in all, his efforts didn’t get too many trees in the ground, but certainly a few extra native shrubs and a few wonderful conversations. There are many reasons as to why people may be limited to plant up (building plans, space, possible sunlight deprivation, etc.)
“My neighbour Tom and I got a Crepe Myrtle in, which was cool” Jacob says. “And in the future I look forward to amending my verge and front yard through a similar initiative if possible.”
“I got to gently encourage local natives as alternatives to future landscaping plans, spoke about urban heat mapping, canopy cover, laughed when lorikeets were trying to get involved in the conversation, learnt from a quiet verge planting master (who also thinks lawn is a little boring) and saw some beautifully chaotic/dense lifelong gardening efforts from people who just welcomed me in.”
Jacob, what’s your best piece of advice for anyone embarking on an ‘In Our Street’ project?
“My efforts were definitely not some well coordinated neighbourhood planting blitz by any stretch. I came across the initiative real late to the party, but I still got out there. I would encourage people to get in touch with their local council, there is a wealth of information that makes initiatives such as this feel tangible and meaningful at a local level. Pushing for greening up private land can be challenging (especially to those who own lots), but whether it is a mature tree, or just a small native patch, greening up your place can be done relatively easily with the right info.”
What has this project meant to you?
“I had warm chats with people I had never met – who I now consider my neighbourhood pals. I got to gently encourage local natives as alternatives to future landscaping plans, spoke about urban heat mapping, canopy cover, laughed when lorikeets were trying to get involved in the conversation, learnt from a quiet verge planting master (who also thinks lawn is a little boring) and saw some beautifully chaotic/dense lifelong gardening efforts from people who just welcomed me in.
I met Tom (pictured), who was happy for me to share his little story in brief and photo. Tom wanted colour, something to change it up (our street is lined with bottlebrushes)… so he and his partner chose a Crepe Myrtle (yes not native), but the pink/purple pop seemed important. Tom fed the soil and the PEC provided the happy health tree.
The planting took 10min, the conversation went for way longer. We chatted for nearly two hours and invited each other into our backyards. He showed me his favourite tree and I spoke about my citrus/veg/cutflower garden flip I’m hoping to work on. He also taught me about caring for timber and I later scored some free Marigold seeds. After getting the tree in, we then spoke about big bold colour and the huge part it played as an immensely rejuvenating source of recovery for him. He achieved his first exhibition at Gallery Yampu not long ago! It was a very reward morning.
The tree looks great and I hope it grows to great lengths, but everything around it was the good stuff.”