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Posts Tagged ‘Sydney’

Coffee for crops: Cafes joining the swap movement

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on January 11th, 2013

Source: Good Food via GreenNationAus

Photo by Joseph Feil (Good Food)
Photo by Joseph Feil (from the Good Food article)

From ‘Swapping herbs for lattes in the new suburban good life‘ by Justine Costigan.

When Helen Howard drops into Melbourne’s Lady Bower café for a coffee, she’ll sometimes ask for a free bag of coffee beans to take home. No, she’s not being cheeky – Lady Bower co-owner Vanessa Nitsos is happy to oblige. It’s an informal trade for the bunches of herbs Howard drops off to the cafe regularly. A coffee, breakfast, maybe even a three-course dinner, are some of the trades regularly made between local gardeners and savvy café owners with both a desire to source local products and an eye on the bottom-line. After all, what could be better than sourcing fruit from a garden just down the road? Usually harvested the day it’s eaten, trading excess fruit, herbs, vegetables and flowers for a meal, or coffee or a jar of jam, is a deal that seems to work beautifully for both the local gardeners and the restaurants.

James Hird, co-owner of Buzo and Wine Library in the Sydney suburb of Woollahra, keeps an eye on what’s growing in his local neighbourhood. If he knows it’s a good year for lush rosemary, plump backyard lemons or juicy mulberries, he’ll put out the word to his customers that he’d love to have any excess from their gardens. As well as sourcing locally, he also has his own rooftop garden and a beehive. Hird says his garden, plus local backyard produce, can only ever supplement his stockroom needs. But he says the effort to source produce which doesn’t require anyone to get into a car is worth it. “It’s a huge untapped resource. We go through about six market bunches of rosemary a day. To take out the cost of this alone has an effect on the bottom-line.” There’s a benefit for the growers too. Hird always offers something in return, but says there are no hard-and-fast rules to the exchange. “I might offer dinner for the harvest from a whole mulberry tree – that’s three months worth of jam for us – or it might be an offer of coffee or breakfast. It’s pretty fluid.”

In Melbourne, Nitsos alerted locals to her interest in local produce before the café even opened, and by the time it was ready for business in February 2012, she already had a couple of nearby gardening enthusiasts willing to share. When Helen Howard started dropping in bunches of herbs from her garden, Nitsos would always offer a cup of coffee in return. “When I started bringing in stuff, Vanessa would ask me to stay and have a coffee, but as I was usually on my way to work, I couldn’t stop. So I asked them if I could have a 250g bag of coffee every couple of weeks in return. It’s a handy arrangement. I (wouldn’t) do it for money, but it’s good to do a trade.”

Kate van der Drift donates figs and lemons from her garden to Lady Bower and loves to see “Marchant Avenue figs” on descriptions of the café’s jam. “It’s just giving for the pleasure of giving. Plus, I like seeing the things that Lady Bower does with my ingredients – it’s often something I would never have thought of.” Nitsos says that in the hospitality game, every little bit helps. “The local produce helps us to put things on the menu we couldn’t usually afford, such as micro-herbs. And it reinforces our commitment to seasonality. Although, a customer did come in once and asks us why every cake we had was made with orange.” […]

Cafes are only now catching on to a trend that has been quietly flourishing in Australian suburbs for decades. Canberra nurse and blogger Bec Pollock swaps fruit and vegetables with other members of the Urban Homesteading Club. At its monthly meetings a swap table is filled with produce, homemade preserves, seeds and seedlings to share. “We also trade details of potential urban foraging sites, including blackberries, quince and apple trees, and have been wanting to develop a local Food Foraging Map,” she says. […]

>>> You can read the full article and discover cafes already swapping produce on Good Food.


The Housing We’d Choose: Grattan Report

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 6th, 2011

The Housing We’d Choose explores the relationship between the housing we want, and the housing we have. The report presents original research on the housing preferences of Australians. A representative sample of over 700 residents in Sydney and Melbourne was asked to make real-world housing choices, limited by their budgets. The housing they chose was a much more varied mix than either city currently provides. In particular, the research suggests significant shortfalls of semi-detached housing and apartments in the middle and outer areas of both cities.

The second part of the report examines recent construction trends and argues that there are barriers to delivering more of the housing people say they want. These disincentives include the cost of materials and labour for buildings over four storeys, land assembly and preparation, and the risk and uncertainty of our planning systems, especially in Victoria.

A subsequent Grattan report will recommend changes to the design of the housing market in order to provide people with more of the homes they say they want. Download a Copy of the Main Report

School for Social Entrepreneurs: Applications Open

Posted in Movements, Seeking by Kate Archdeacon on May 13th, 2011

Source: Social Traders

Have an idea to set up a project or business that will benefit your community? Are you already running a social business or community enterprise and need help to make it sustainable? Need a combination of personal support and business skills development to move your project or business forward? Want to be part of a vibrant community of like-minded people working to create change?

The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) runs a nine month action learning program for entrepreneurial individuals with ideas or businesses that have a community benefit.

The next Melbourne program starts 22 August 2011 and applications are due 31 May.

Refer to the SSE website for detailed information about the program, the learning approach and frequently asked questions.

Peter Harper: ‘Zero Carbon Britain 2030′ in Melbourne

Posted in Events, Research by Kate Archdeacon on March 18th, 2011

13 April , 2011
19 April , 2011

Zero Carbon by 2030 – Britain’s dream or reality?

Technology says we can. Science says we must. Is it time to say we will?

SPEAKER: Peter Harper, Centre for Alternative Technology (UK), Coordinator Zero Carbon Britain

Two public lectures by UK scientist Peter Harper, from the Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT), in Wales on ZeroCarbonBritain 2030 – a plan offering a positive realistic, policy framework to eliminate emissions from fossil fuels within 20 years. Zero Carbon Britain(ZCB) brought together leading UK’s thinkers, including policy makers, scientists, academics, industry and NGOs to provide political, economic and technological solutions to the urgent challenges raised by climate science.

Governments and businesses seem paralysed and unable to plan for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy. ZCB shows what can be done by harnessing the voluntary contribution from experts working outside their institutions. The ZCB report,released in June 2010, provides a fully integrated vision of how Britain can respond to the challenges of climate change, resource depletion and global inequity, with the potential for a low-carbon future to enrich society as a whole.

During lectures in Melbourne and Sydney, Peter will explore how we can ‘Power Down’ demand in the built environment, transport, land use and institute behavioural change, then ‘Power Up’ the energy system with renewables. He’ll outline the key thinking behind the report, including why a low carbon economy is an investment in the future, and look at the ways sustainable community based and multi-lateral initiatives will concurrently inform a global energy infrastructure.

Wednesday 13 April, 6.30- 8pm, BMW Edge, Federation Square

Please register your attendance by Monday 11 April to

Presented by the British Council, VEIL (Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab), Banksia Environmental Foundation, Key Message and BMW Edge at Federation Square.

Friends With Things: Sharing Skills, Stuff, Time

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on March 11th, 2011

Image © Friends With Things

Friends With Things is a Sydney-based initiative looking to start up here in Melbourne.  Get in touch with them if you’re interested in being involved.

Friends with Things is a place where you can borrow things from, or share things with your neighbours, for free.  Need a power drill? Have a BBQ that you can let a neighbour borrow? This is the place.  More than just sharing tools and things, you’re also free to share your time, skills and expertise. Or where you can share, buy or sell locally made things – check out the ‘local market’ at Friends Who Make Things.

Friends with Things is not just about sharing resources, it’s a small way we can all help bring back that sense of ‘neighbourhood’ that’s often missing from apartment and city living – and a nice way to make friends with your neighbours.  So if there’s something you need to borrow, have a look around, find what you need and introduce yourself, it’s that simple. Or, if you’ve got things you can share with your neighbours, or make or grow something you’d like to share, let us know – just post straight into the ‘comments’ box, it’s that simple.

Friends with Things leads with the idea of sharing, but it’s really about sharing everything, from household things, to expertise, to rides to work and local knowledge and other things, like connecting local producers, craftspeople and artist to each other and their local community – it’s about more than just sharing objects. Ravi, Friends With Things Founder