What if food growers everywhere were able to connect with their local community to supply restaurants, cafes and food businesses with freshly harvested, home-grown produce?
At Grow It Local, we set out to make this happen in true belief that one day, everyone could be a farmer and every garden could be a farm. North Bondi Fish restaurant, located at the most northern point of Sydney’s infamous Bondi Beach, enlisted our team, and some of our registered growers from Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs to crowdfarm home-grown (and some home-made) ingredients to put on their Winter menu.
New vocab alert! "Crowdfarming" is our green-thumbed spin on crowdfunding; engaging like-minded people to do something great, only we’re sourcing food, not funds.
The idea actually came about back in 2012, when Grow It Local first invited local growers to put their patch on the map and donate some home grown produce in each exchange for a crowd farmed growers feast at Three Blue Ducks in Bronte. The idea caught on and we were soon approached by Remo Guiffre of TEDx and food extraordinaire Jill Dupliex with an outrageous idea to crowd farm for 2,200 people at the Opera House. Check out TEDx Crowd Farmed by Grow It Local.
Fast forward to 2019 and the “garden to plate” philosophy is gaining traction worldwide in response to some big changes:
In Sydney's Marrickville and Annandale, Cornersmith cafes and Picklery enjoy regular deliveries from local food traders - often surplus fruit or veg which gets lovingly transformed into pickles, jams, saurekraut and more.
In Barossa, South Australia the artisans behind Vino Lokal Wine Room were out to make "allll the lemon cordial" and took to Instagram to call upon their community for local lemons.
But what went down in the backyards of our growers and later, in the kitchen at North Bondi Fish?
The first grower to feature on the menu was Glen from Bronte. Glen bought her property in '95 when the entire garden was concrete. Since then, the patch has transformed and Glen's been growing everything from rocket, lemon-myrtle and kaffir lime, anything exotic or rare that she can get her hands on, and an unusual tubular called yakon. It looks like a potato and tastes a little like a pear, and it’s a good grower through the colder months in New South Wales. The yakon harvest traditionally happens on Mother’s Day in Glen’s Patch. This time around though, she gave it to the team at North Bondi Fish, who were up for the challenge to put it on the menu.
“Local produce is super important to us at North Bondi Fish” says chef and manager Ben Turner as he as he explains Matt Moran’s long standing “paddock to plate” ethos, and chops Glen’s freshly harvested yakon.
Next, Edith Chow delivered a multitude of home-grown herbs and salad greens from her communal garden to North Bondi Fish. There was sorrel, cabbage, kale, rocket and chilli to name a few, and sous chef Hunter was surprised to see lemongrass and turmeric in the mix. That’s right, it’s not all carrots and tomatoes in home food gardens. Edith put her patch on the map here at Grow It Local in 2018 and it’s known to us as Farm That Flat, Coogee. She’s totally blazing the trail for city folk hoping to grow edible goods in unique spaces. Go Edie!
Of course, we couldn’t resist getting in on the action, and so week 3 saw co-founders Darryl Nichols and Andrew Valder deliver a monster load of lemongrass and kale. Both Darryl and Andrew are passionate advocates of the "grow, share, eat" philosophy and lo-fi lifestyle.
Oliver Brown’s garden has one very specific and important purpose, to provide food. It’s a serious contributor to his diet which is supplemented by whatever he can grow, forage, fish or hunt. It’s what he calls a ‘Fat of the Land and Sea’ approach! Alongside parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, curry leaf and native lemon myrtle, Oliver supplied North Bondi Fish with homemade Maroubra honey and sea salt made from water harvested 1km off Sydney’s East Coast – now that’s extreme foraging!
Our crowdfarmed ingredients found their way into an array of dishes at North Bondi Fish. There were crisp winter greens glazed in raw honey dressing, fish tacos garnished with fresh parsley and yakon drizzling in lemon juice - a new experience for many Bondi locals.
The proof is in the pudding (quite literally) crowdfarming works and we want to see it adopted by restaurants, cafes and food businesses everywhere. This is just the beginning.
Click here to get in touch and get involved as we endeavor to crowdfarm countrywide!
What to Grow in Autumn in Australia
How to Grow: Potatoes
Lee Holmes: Crustless Vegetable Quiche
How to Grow: Carrots