Before we begin, a little confession! We felt very indulgent taking a break out of our busy, but ordinary lives, midweek, to explore a couple of exciting examples of urban homesteading in Sydney.
The justification being that it would be a lot easier to explore the wonderfully popular and interesting kitchen gardens at The Grounds of Alexandria and Koskela in Sydney’s inner city, without the weekend bustle.
So here is a little snapshot of what we found!!
The Grounds of Alexandria and Koskela are both converted factories (The Grounds was the old Four’N Twenty pie factory and Koskela was a Rosella cannery) nestled nearby in the semi industrial suburbs of Alexandria and Rosebery. Their neighbourhoods comprise everything from smash repairers to furniture manufacturers, child care centres to wrestling and boxing gyms. Eclectic is an understatement, making for a very interesting walk from Green Square Train Station to our first stop The Grounds!
The Grounds of Alexandria, established in April 2012, by creative entrepreneur Ramsey Choker and coffee guru Jack Hanna, is a specialty coffee roasting facility. It offers research and testing alongside a café and bakery which is supported by an extensive kitchen garden of heirloom vegetables and herbs. The Grounds offers market stalls on the weekends and an urban farming experience complete with resident pig Kevin Bacon, chooks and lambs. You really could spend all day wandering through the gardens and sampling the fare while the children play.
We were particularly interested in surveying the organic garden. It was obvious that it is a daily source of fresh produce for the kitchen for their seasonally inspired menu. The warm winter salad was testament to this and was absolutely delicious!
A resident Horticulturalist uses organic methods to manage soil fertility, companion planting, trench gardening, crop rotation, compost bins and worm farms. As well as fielding questions from gardening enthusiasts…Ahem!
Next stop Koskela and Kitchen by Mike!
Sandblasted brickwork, vertical gardens, wholesome food and uber cool design accents…..Ahhh, Koskela. We have always admired this fabulous business and the accompanying cantina Kitchen by Mike . While primarily there to check out their lovely kitchen garden and the relationship it has to the daily operations of Mike McEnearney’s canteen, it really was wonderful to explore the massive warehouse space created by designers Russel Koskela and Sasha Titckosky.
The kitchen garden provides a bounty of herbs and vegetables and honey is sourced from the restaurants own hives. As we sat down to enjoy a coffee and pastry, the chefs were in and out between the kitchen and the garden gathering herbs to embellish their lunchtime dishes.
We loved the interplay between the retail store and the canteen. The marriage of philosophies of both businesses to provide responsible and sustainable produce resonates. A pleasure to the senses for its simplicity and wholesomeness.
Well, what a great little escape!
The produce growing at The Grounds and Koskela looked wonderfully abundant and provides good lessons on how to successfully turn small urban spaces into interesting, productive and enjoyable gardens.