Voluntary Simplicity: In the Garden


Simple living, or voluntary simplicity isn’t a new concept in this household, but it is one that gets constantly edited, it evolves and gets reassessed as needed. It’s also something that while my children have always grown up with it, as this stage of their lives I’m finding I’m explaining more of why we make certain conscious decisions, and the longer term effects of those decisions. The why we do things and not just because.

Sometimes I can feel like I’m all over it and other times it feels like I’m floating in mini version of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The good thing about that though, is despite occasional overwhelming feelings there’s always something that shifts and then counter balanced by a complete sense of fully bodied satisfaction, (and that is always a good thing.)

Just over 12 months ago we swapped small apartment inner city living for a house in a smaller city, and surrounding suburban area. It’s close to shops, schools, transport and health caregivers when needed.

Another important choice for us was to be able to grow things. So now with the multiple neighbours that I know by name, there came a fairly blank canvas space of a backyard.

Making that move meant initially we didn’t have a lot of things that we would need (like) to embark on growing a lot of our own vegetables. Wheelbarrows, spades, pitch forks etc weren’t items that I had needed to access with a previously small shared concrete city courtyard.


To get started with our growing, somethings we bought straight up, (I knew there would be an initial outlay of items as our number one aim was to get things growing. We wanted to eat from our back door step!) Somethings were given to us, somethings passed on to us as were no longer needed by the original owners. Somethings we bought second hand, and some the things we simply borrowed.

Ultimate Goal? To be growing as much as possible utilising the space we have, keeping costs down and equipment to a bare minimum.

How did we set about it and how do we continue to manage it? (As I mentioned it’s a constantly evolving process.)

Gumtree- either bought second hand or freebies, also been great for selling things we no longer needed to keep clutter to a minimum and redirect $ to something else more useful.

Borrow- lawn mowers we borrowed two before buying our own push mower. I still get a smug sense of satisfaction of hearing virtually nothing when mowing the lawn. As more grass gets turned over for edible growing space, I’m hoping the lawn mowers use will gradually decrease.

Trade- Somethings I refused outright to get, and a whipper snipper was one of them. Borrow one sure, but I didn’t want to buy one. (Actually we never did end up borrowing one either.) Living in an area where people pride themselves on their grass care. I asked a neighbour if he would trade the occasional edging out the front for baked goods. He could sleep easier knowing our edges were looking less scruffy and my conscience was clear knowing we didn’t have a garage full of implements that might be used once in a blue moon.

Hire- And if we do change our mind on using that whipper snipper, or anything else for that matter. Well I can hire one from a household a couple of km’s away at an hourly rate from Open Shed. (Another awesome example of the share economy.)


There will always be a juggle between keeping/finding/sourcing things that might be useful in the future, (but have no immediate use) and keeping our gardening gear to a minimum, (that’s our reality and the way we’ve chosen to do things in this period. While tools are a fairly easy decision. I’m finding more and more discarded wood finding its way in as it has the potential to be made into something else entirely. I’m ok with that, as mentioned in the beginning, it’s an evolving process. Choices are made, as opportunities present themselves.

Conscious decisions over unthinkingly just taking… this is our version of voluntary simplicity, in the garden.

Helpful links


Open Shed




10 thoughts on “Voluntary Simplicity: In the Garden

  1. Cheers for voluntary simplicity! And gardens! We are still living in that little urban apartment but I won’t deny that I dream often of a blank slate of a backyard. If we ever get there, I know our approach will be very similar.


    • I think living in a smaller environment trains you up in working out what is important and keeping things to a minimum. I know that isn’t always the case, but in ours it certainly was. Keep working on those dreams Slow Mamma.


  2. Wow, Open Shed seems like great idea! We tend to borrow things from my parents (they tend to hoard things), for instance, a hedge trimmer they have for a very specific reason (no hedge though..).
    I’m planning to go through our hand tools soon to do some maintenance and try fixing some things I’d rather keep than replace, I’m a bit worried we’ve inherited a few too many shovels for one household


    • That’s the thing, it’s a slippery slope. Inheriting things is tricky, because on the one hand, hey you are getting something for free that will be really useful right? But on the other hand…how many shovels do you really need? Pass some on if you can Erin! 🙂 (and I’m curious about the hedge trimmer that doesn’t get used for hedges…)


  3. Gardening equipment doesn’t really need to be fancy does it? Our lawn area has decreased a lot over the years but we do still have two small areas of lawn which provide welcome greenery, dust prevention and coolness in the hot months. We have a very old lawn mower which we inherited from my husband’s late grandfather. It still runs like a gem. Voluntary simplicity is a good thing! Happy growing!


  4. Another free resource that we’ve found can be your local council. They often have free services and cheap worm farms, for example. Ours has this great service where you put out tree bits and they come along and mulch them and leave you the mulch. Fantastic.


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