For artist Nicola Chatham, a move to Queensland’s sunshine coast has brought a healthier lifestyle and a whole new creative focus.

In just a couple of years, Nicola Chatham has turned her life upside down, shaken all the cobwebs out and re-positioned it to form a more balanced existence. The result has been a magnificent transformation in her wellness, creativity and sense of self-determination.

While Nicola has been an artist for 11 years, she has only recently come to realise the satisfaction that can come from gardening, which now provides a constant source of inspiration when creating artwork.

There aren’t many, if any, other people who can lay claim to being a permaculture designer, organic gardening teacher and contemporary artist. For Nicola, who is also the author of City Kids Move to the Country and creator of the online organic gardening course “The Abundant Veggie Patch System”, a combination of art and nature has provided her with a sense of pleasure and pride, as she experiences a connection to the earth and an ever-present flow of creativity. Nicola recently turned her hand to organic gardening out of necessity, but has found unexpected benefits along the way.

Two years ago, after working with a naturopath to determine that organic produce would ease her digestive discomfort, Nicola decided that a move to the Sunshine Coast hinterland would enable her to put down roots, both literally and figuratively. “I didn’t realise how much you could grow in a small amount of space,” she observes.

“So I bought quite a large property to accommodate my own vegetable and herb gardens, but I only really use the backyard behind the house.” In this relatively small space, Nicola is able to grow about 70 per cent of the fresh produce she consumes. “I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I grew the food on my plate,” she says. “It’s so fresh and crisp, and more delicious than what you’d buy in a store.”

The complete story was originally published in Australian Country issue 16.1. Click here to subscribe to our magazine.

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Words Paula Bridges
Photography Matthew Gillam