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Keywords:

  • Australia;
  • backyard gardens;
  • dwelling;
  • subsistence production;
  • Sydney

ABSTRACT. Gardens have been an important site of environmental engagement in Australia since the British colonization. They are places where immigrant people and plants have carried on traditions from their homelands and have worked out an accommodation with new social and biophysical environments. We examined the backyard gardens of three contemporary migrant groups—Macedonian, Vietnamese, and British born—in suburban Australia and a group of first-generation Australians with both parents born overseas. In Macedonian backyards, emphasis was strong on the production of vegetables; in Vietnamese backyards, on herbs and fruit. British backyards were more diverse, some focusing on non-native ornamental flowers and others favoring native plants. The cohesiveness of the respective groups was partly an artifact of our sampling strategy. The Macedonian and Vietnamese migrants shared an affinity for productive, humanized landscapes that reflected their rural, subsistence backgrounds and crossed over into their attitudes toward the broader environment and national parks. The rural and village backgrounds help explain why intensive backyard food production has broken down among the next generation in (sub)urban Australia, becoming part of heritage rather than everyday practice.