The bush capital may have been a "good sheep paddock ruined" but the dream of a home among the plum trees – or at least a few herbs at your feet – is being lived by an increasing number of Canberrans.
Driven by a range of motivations, the number of people enjoying fresh, tasty and almost-free fruit and vegetables from their own backyard has grown exponentially in the past five years.
Canberra City Farm is one organisation promoting the spread of urban food production.
Founded in 2011, the not-for-profit group has 250 people on its mailing list and 60 paid-up members who share knowledge about sustainably growing food in suburban settings.
After two years displaying at Floriade, the organisation was able to more closely live up to its name with a two-year permit for an 800 square metre block in Turner.
City Farm treasurer and founding member Keith Colls said the aim of the farm was to educate people about growing quality food themselves.
"I was a member of the Canberra Organic Growers Society and I'd been thinking for some time we need to educate people about where our food came from, and the importance of a local food economy rather than just being importers all the time," he said.
"Eighty turned up at our first meeting which surprised us a lot."
Canberra City Farm is negotiating with the ACT government for a larger site.
Mr Colls said urban food production was nothing new for Canberrans – COGS itself was founded in 1977 – but smaller backyards had limited the trend.
"In the '80s and '90s it went out of fashion," he said.
Less generously sized blocks and higher-density living, embraced by the ACT government, have however been partially counteracted by the establishment of community gardens in many suburbs.
At Charnwood, one of COGS's 12 community organic gardens, convener Jo McMillan said the 35-40 active plot holders grow everything from plums, apricots and apples to various berries, corn and zucchinis.
Interest in obtaining a plot – for the minor annual cost of $2.40 per square metre – had risen in the last two years.
"We have had more expressions of interest, people on the waiting list, then we've ever had previously," she said.
Isabel Griggs, of Dunlop, said she enjoyed the community aspect and sharing of knowledge with the other gardeners, but the ultimate satisfaction was seeing your own produce – from her Charnwood plot and vegetable garden at home – on the plate.
"There's benefits for health, money – we've saved a heap of money," she said.
"Every night we'd have something out of our garden on the table."
The Charnwood experience is far from unusual.
COGS's immediate past president Walter Steensby said the Canberra-wide membership fluctuated but was 208 in 1994, 330 a decade later and 450 last year.
"We have a waiting list of about 25 per cent of our total number of plots, and that is with no advertising at all," he said.
Jeannette Heycox is the co-ordinator for COGS's backyard gardener subgroup, which has a monthly meeting at a different member's backyard.
People bring a plate of food and share their different thoughts and techniques for a productive garden.
The numbers on the email list have risen from about 30 to 50 in five years.
"I would say there's a range of motivations, we're not a homogenous group," she said.
"Some come to [growing to] save money, some come for the quality of the food, some come for the nutrition, some come to get their kids to eat more vegetables – there's more connection with it if it's grown themselves."
Ms Heycox said an inconsistent quality of soils in Canberra backyards meant getting "garden infrastructure" in place was important for anyone starting off.
"Get yourself one of those cheap raised garden beds and a bit of soil, and set up some sort of composting bin," she said.
Mitchell Pearce, 19, is not a member of any growers' group, but he does more than most to help the backyards flourish.
Canberra's only full-time commercial beekeeper is now in charge of the enterprise, Canberra Urban Honey, founded by his beekeeping parents in 2012 as a response to demand from home owners.
"They noticed the lack of pollination in the backyard in their flowers, and were talking about it at the Capital Region Farmers Markets where we sold honey," he said.
"We got more and more people saying the same things to us and they were more and more frantic."
The family used five hive hosts in 2012, and it was not until late the next year that Mr Pearce converted the operation to a small business and expanded.
Today 40 hives are spread among 15 hive hosts and the backyard producers could not be happier.
"They've been ecstatic," he said.
"All of my hive hosts have noticed a positive increase in production from their own crops and some have said they have had their most productive years ever."
While not the only pollinator, a large chunk of the produce was helped by the bees' presence.
The efforts led Mr Pearce to be named the national Sustainable Cities Young Legend of 2014.
The widespread urban hives have also produced some outstanding - and diverse - honey.
"We have hives that are five kilometres apart, and they're totally different," Mr Pearce said.
"We have hives in Ainslie which produce a very sweet, vanilla honey, and then a dark, full-favoured, fruity type of honey from Belconnen."
The honey has won silver medals in the Sydney Royal National Honey Show in each of the last two years.
"By paper, Canberra has prepared the best urban honey in the commercial class in the southern hemisphere," Mr Pearce said.
For those whose growing success is on a larger scale, organisations like 100kilos.org have set up regular harvest swaps so the rest of the city can enjoy the home-grown taste.
Founder Elizabeth Goodfellow, from north of Yass, said the first Canberra harvest swap was held at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets last December.
The organisation's aim of encouraging people to produce 100 kilograms of food each year was very achievable, she said.
"Last time I checked our Facebook page there was some Canberra backyard growers who were up to 35-40 kilograms," she said.
"It's probably typical of people who are reasonably organised."
A large space is not essential - Ms Goodfellow said she produced 60 kilograms of tomatoes one year in a 1.5 metre by three metre patch.
Most growers had one clear motivator in mind.
"When I talk to people about why they grow fruit and vegies it's usually because they like to eat," she said.
"They know they're getting good food and it's convenient."
It's a view backed up by Keith Colls.
"I love gardening, and the freshness in the food you get," he said.
"If you grow your own fruit you'll certainly notice the difference from the stuff you buy in the shops."