Sixteen years ago, Christina Robberds moved from Sydney to Newcastle, and 13 years ago she and son Kailin moved into their three-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Mayfield. Since then, they’ve made the most of their space.
She had a moment when she knew this house was right for her. She was walking towards the back garden with her dog and Kailin. She said the mulberry tree was fruiting, looking healthy and wild (like it does right now).
“The two of them were so happy under the mulberry tree and I thought ‘you know what, that’s the one’,” she says.
Robberds said that as soon as she moved in, she started playing in the dirt.
Her love of nature and gardening began in Sydney when she was working with people with disabilities.
She worked as a coordinator of a garden club that focused on people with mental illness. At the time, Robberds’ background was more in disability services rather than gardening. But the other person she worked with was a real gardening enthusiast and passed the bug to Robberds.
“Ever since then I’ve always tried to do what I could,” Robberds says.
With chickens, ducks, two dogs, two cats and a guinea pig, the space stays lively. She uses her home not just as a lovely, comfortable place in which to nest and raise a child, but to grow all kinds of food and attempt recipes.
She spends at least an hour outside in her garden every day.
She likes eating fresh produce.
In her garden, you’ll find heaps of leeks, parsley, mulberries, loquat fruit, various herbs and eggs from the chooks and ducks. She has lots of greens, including rainbow chard, kale and mixed lettuce.
“Pretty much, year round, there is some kind of fruit,” Robberds says.
“The guavas just finished but the mulberries are here, then loganberries, then mangos.”
For a more up-to-date and personal version of what Robberds is up to on the homestead, visit her Instagram account, @mundychristina. From making chutney from home grown figs to attempts at pickling cucamelons, there’s always something going bananas, literally.
You can see her experimenting with homegrown lilly pilly vegan jelly and showcasing her turmeric harvest.
“I started the Instagram out of my own interest; it’s a gentle way to lead by example, rather than have banners in the street,” she says.
Robberds works part time with local arts not-for-profit Octapod, and the rest of her time is dedicated to the home and garden.
She thinks the home was built in the 1920s.
Before Robberds and Kailin moved in, the house had been occupied by an older man for many years.
The kitchen and bathroom have been renovated since she moved in and a wall was put in to create a hallway out of the main bedroom.
“I move things around a lot, taking on my mum’s habits of moving furniture rather than buying it. The lounge room and the dining room swap places five times,” she says. “I’m going to change it (again) now.”
She likes living in Mayfield with the exception of the coal dust, and she wishes they’d cover the coal trains.
She has seen some changes in the suburb. Lately she’s been enjoying going to yoga at Equium Social cafe.
“There are still a few neighbours that were here when I moved in, but people do come and go,” she says.
“It’s becoming much busier, especially on Hanbury Street; now it’s hard to get a park outside the house.”
It’s so exciting to see Robberds being so creative and innovative using the space she has in her own home. We could all take a little inspiration from her lifestyle.