Grow Inspired’s Claire Mummery on the joy and benefits of growing our own food

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1 November 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Organic foodie Claire Mummery promotes sustainable living and nutrient-rich food production through her eco business Grow Inspired.

Claire Mummery’s house smells of tomatoes, feijoas and peaches. And of the chutney and sauce she’s busy turning them into.

She’s the force behind Grow Inspired, an organisation aimed at promoting sustainable living and nutrient-rich food production.

Based on Waiheke Island, Claire teaches others how to grow organic food, to compost and to “find joy in growing your own food”.

“Anyone can grow their own organic food, whether your only outdoor space is an apartment balcony or a lifestyle block,” she explains. “So many people have never grown anything, but I’m here to show them they can do so easily and cheaply.”

Anyone can grow their own organic food, whether your only outdoor space
is an apartment balcony or a lifestyle block

While the pandemic wasn’t kind to many things, for some it proved a turning point.

“People had time on their hands and started growing gardens. And they discovered, many for the first time, the joy of harvesting five potatoes or a few tomatoes they’d grown themselves.”

Add to that a desire for food free from toxic sprays – and to keep green waste out of landfills by composting – and we have a boom of wannabe green-fingered citizens.

The surge in interest prompted Claire, 53, to start the Grow Inspired Academy, which teaches people how to grow nutrient-rich food at home.

“Members get access to information and videos on how to restore the soil, where and when to sow seeds and how to create biodiversity, as well as recipes and how to deal with pests using either organic-certified sprays or ones you make yourself.”

Claire’s speciality is bokashi composting, a Japanese system that uses microorganisms to ferment the waste into compost, producing zero emissions and, when spayed on crops, results in tastier produce and improves soil quality.

The Academy, which features videos shot by Claire’s daughter Kiah, 23, has proved hugely successful, with members as far afield as Belgium.

It’s a life that London-born Claire never imagined when she left England at 17.

“I was working in the finance industry but rebelled against a white-picket-fence-type lifestyle.”

Instead, she headed to Australia, mainly because her friends were doing the same. But Australia, with its “wildlife that can poison and kill you”, didn’t agree with her so instead she headed across the ditch. She’d never been near a cow her in life but loved the outdoors, so ended up working on a dairy farm. Next to the farm cottage was some land where she grew her own veges.

It took Claire back to her grandfather’s greenhouse which she loved to visit as a child. “He would say, ‘This is where the magic happens’, and I’ve never forgotten that.”

She moved to Waiheke 17 years ago for a role as a personal gardener, and from there progressed to gigs at Poderi Crisci and Cable Bay vineyards, where she grew organic vegetables and introduced composting and zero-waste practices.

It’s something she believes we should all do. “Using food waste to create food in your backyard is one of the best things we can do not only for our bodies, but also for the planet.”

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