When Kieran Tapsell moved into his fibro shack on Stanwell Avenue, the surrounding area was bare.
The government had recently declared the undeveloped adjacent lots a park, but heavy clearing in the years prior had left the 4.5 hectares behind the beach at Stanwell Park with barely any vegetation.
All the was left was the invasive weed lantana and when Mr Tapsell had spare time, he would go about removing the dense shrub.
In its place, Mr Tapsell planted rainforest trees native to the area and today, the once barren scrub is unrecognisable, with tall mature trees.
"Now I can safely say the only bit of lantana here is just little bits of stuff coming up from the existing seed bed, which of course I pull out," he said.
This weekend, curious locals and visitors are invited to view Mr Tapsell's work and sample the fruits of his labour, as part of the Illawarra Edible Garden Trail, a first for the region.
Over a dozen backyards, community gardens and neighbourhood veggie patches are open for visitors, from Helensburgh to Woonona.
The initiative is spearheaded by Food Fairness Illawarra, a program of Healthy Cities Illawarra, and hopes to get Illawarra residents rethinking where they get their veggies, fruits and herbs from.
In Mr Tapsell's case, while he hasn't radically altered his diet, he does turn the bush cherries, similar to the fruit from Lilly Pillies, he grows into a "superb" jam, and also swaps spinach for warrigal greens grown in his front yard.
The part-time ceramicist has also designed his own water features into the garden, with some fountains bearing an uncanny resemblance to public figures.
For other budding green thumbs, Mr Tapsell has some simple advice, start small and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.
"I can only encourage them to try and do something."
The Edible Garden Trail is on from 10am to 3pm on Sunday, tickets can be purchased online through Eventbrite and more information is available here: https://foodfairnessillawarra.org.au/join-the-illawarra-edible-garden-trail/.
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