From Disused Tennis Court to a Productive Vegie Garden

We explore a productive vegie garden that once played host to family tennis tournaments.

For Jaclyn Crupi and her partner Andrew Stewardson, transforming a disused tennis court into a productive vegie garden was about finding a design that balanced history, happiness and health. 

In 2019, Jaclyn and Andrew acquired half an acre on the Mornington Peninsula, less than 100 kilometres southeast of Melbourne. On it stands a mid-century home that remains practically unchanged from what would have been regarded a quite forward-thinking build in its day, right down to the pantry’s cold cupboard next to the small original kitchen at the rear of the home. 

Imagined by Andrew’s grandmother and designed by his grandfather in 1948, the home has been the Stewardson family’s holiday destination for as long as Andrew can remember. Filled with as much light as important memories, it’s not the building we’re here to see, but the impressive enclosed vegetable garden Jaclyn and Andrew have created on the property’s original tennis court. 

From Disused Tennis Court to a Productive Vegie Garden 4
The tennis court past its heyday.

Laying the ground work 

When the couple moved in in 2019, the first job was to clear the 2,000m2 property from its established population of pittosporum, agapanthus and cotoneaster, all classified as environmental weeds in Victoria. These were replaced with around 400 young native plants, combined with the installation of a large pond in order to attract native fauna to the space. 

“Gardening was never a part of what happened here,” explains Andrew. “We want to respect and enjoy the legacy and history, while revitalising the property and introducing our own passions and interests.”

For Jaclyn especially, who has written numerous books on growing food and cooking it, that passion is tending to a large sprawling vegie garden. And with a 420m2 netted tennis court sitting idle at the bottom of the property, transforming a site that once played host to family tennis tournaments into a productive patch was a no-brainer. 

Growing food at home

But designing the space to work within their lifestyle, while getting the most from the unique challenges the site presented, was a different story altogether. 

“We didn’t know what to put where, because we could have put anything anywhere,” says Jaclyn. 

The pair made an effort to visit as many properties with netted gardens as they could, to learn from other experiences before committing to the design of what Jaclyn says “will be the last garden we ever build”. 

From Disused Tennis Court to a Productive Vegie Garden 1

The inspiration behind this productive vegie garden

The transformation of the property was inspired by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland’s book The Art of Frugal Hedonism, which is a self-proclaimed guide on how to live lightly but luxuriantly; spending less money while enjoying the things that are important a lot more. z

Jaclyn and Andrew took a holistic view of not just what their life looked like and needed at the time, but they also considered what their long-term future may look like, before consulting landscapers whose experience helped plan and implement the design. 

“It might seem silly, but we even thought as far down the track as to when we’re ageing and not as agile, we might need to get a small buggy through the gate,” says Andrew. 

chicken coop with built in composting bays

Want to know more about this amazing transformation from a disused tennis court into a productive vegie garden?

In Issue #28 of Pip Magazine, we take a tour of Jaclyn and Andrew’s now thriving productive vegie garden. In the article we explore: 

  • How the large chicken coop acts as a central point of their design. 
  • The water system set up.
  • The use of netting to control pests and vermin, and
  • The myriad of sustainability efforts the couple have implemented to reduce waste, not only during the build but long-term.

You can access this article online here as part of our digital subscription offering, or subscribe to the print version of Pip Magazine here

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