Walking around inner western Sydney on a retail walk the other day, we were lucky enough to stumble across Camperdown Commons – a collaboration between Acre Eatery and non-for profit Pocket City Farms. We fell in love with the concept at first sight, and have been lucky enough to get to pick the brain of Luke Heard, co-founder and owner of Acre.
Luke had been working overseas in New York for some time, and on his way back to Australia he came across a magazine on the airplane in the seat pocket in front of him. In the magazine there was an article about food security and how if our food consumption continues at its current rate, we won’t have enough food by 2050, which will result in starvation.
The article stuck with Luke and he was therefore eager to learn more about this issue. He came to find that the problem was not just lack of food – the food wasn’t produced in a sustainable way. As Luke was looking for the next thing in his career, he found that doing something within the space of sustainable produce could shape his future career.
In New York Luke had seen a really cool space called Brooklyn Grange that he really liked, which farms rooftops, builds green spaces, and promotes sustainable living and local ecology through food, education, and events.
The idea sprang from his wish to educate people on the way we think about food – to make a change without preaching. He wanted consumers to realise that credible alternatives to ‘normal food’ does exist.
When we asked why Camperdown was chosen as the first location, Luke replied:
“Camperdown is a sustainable community, and there are also a lot of like minded people in the surrounding areas. As Pocket City Farms is a non-for profit, we were dependant on volunteers to help build and maintain it.”
In addition to this, John Tully – a former co-worker of Luke’s – was doing some work for the guys behind Camperdown Bowling club, and at the same time the team from Pocket City Farms were looking into doing something with their concept. An opportunity came up, and it was decided that Acre and Pocket City Farms’ first location would be Camperdown.
Since opening their doors in June earlier this year, everyone and anyone has taken interest in the place, Luke says. People go to Acre for Saturday and Sunday lunch and spend the whole afternoon there. With a playground on the sight it is easy to bring kids too. A lot of people also walk by and come in to have a look at the farm.
“They are really fascinated by what’s grown on sight, how it’s grown, when they can buy the produce, composting, how they can get more involved, and our usage in the restaurant”.
Many people are interested in learning how to grow produce sustainably in small spaces. Responding to this, they are hosting workshops to teach both kids and adults about sustainable growing and produce.
In addition to the restaurant and farm, on site there is also a food and juice booth run out of a shipping container for quick purchases, and a common room – a community space that can be used for events.
AND, in case this concept hasn’t already tickled your fancy, Camperdown Commons promotes sustainability in every way they can; their food menu, staff training on sustainable produce, composting and waste practices, using local farmers and produce, and the chefs have started an internship program on the farm to teach about the produce.
Planning your next visit to Camperdown Commons yet? Yeah – so are we.