Having grown up around food, with memories of checking the chook pen for eggs, pork and fennel sausage hanging in the shed, and running through the vegie patch at his grandparents' backyard in Hamilton Hill, Mat Pember wanted more from his landscaping career.
After trying to decide what he really wanted to do and wondering if he would ever put his commerce degree to use, he eventually decided to follow his passion for edible landscapes and in 2008 started The Little Veggie Patch Co, a Melbourne-based business that specialises in the design, installation and maintenance of chemical-free vegetable gardens.
While his nonna had made a love of produce gardens and good food part of his DNA, an old flatmate sparked his curiosity by trying to grow herbs in a tiny, hot courtyard in their 20s.
"When we didn't succeed, late-night urban foraging of our neighbour's herb patch really got the sparks flying," Pember laughed.
After being introduced to a friend of his sister's, Fabian Capomolla, in 2009, the pair bonded over their love of fresh produce and good food - so much so that Capomolla decided to ditch his advertising career to follow his dream of helping people grow food, joining the LVPC fold that same year.
"I guess people see the main reasoning as health and environment. But our main motivations have been, and always will be, the lifestyle and quality of food," Pember said.
"Moving with the seasons is how we try to live and connect with our food, and these things give us a grounding that we really wanted to share; it's about deriving great pleasure from the basics that can so often be oversighted and confused in bright lights.
Giving people an insight in the seasons and what they mean to us is the message of this book."
The Little Veggie Patch Co's Guide to Backyard Farming is the pair's second book, following on from their hugely popular How To Grow Food In Small Spaces.
The new book is full of the pair's witty anecdotes, which put a fresh twist on the subject matter.
"This was a great opportunity to wet a notoriously dry topic," Pember laughed.
It takes readers on a year-long journey through the seasons, from what to plant and harvest to how to cook with it, in the form of a mouth-watering recipe for each month of the year.
The boys have hand-picked some of their favourite recipes using produce from the garden, including haloumi, asparagus and roasted tomato salad, zucchini and dill fritters and Pember's favourite, chocolate and beetroot cake.
There are projects to keep you busy in the garden; think building a vertical vegetable garden, espaliering, creating a window box, and making your own cider.
There are also sections on keeping chickens and starting a backyard beehive, and plenty of topics to get the kids involved.
"We enjoy gardening the most when we share with friends and loved ones, so the activities aim to gather involvement from all corners of your family and friendship group," said Pember, who has a three-month-old daughter, Emi.Capomolla is currently teaching his two children, Jack, 4, and Olive, 2 next month, the benefits of produce gardening.
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