The beauty of organic farming lies quite simply in its celebration of the land; the balance and harmony created between both nature and crop.
Pocket City Farms understands this sense of enduring beauty through their deep conviction of community, and an openness to restoration and adaptiveness. Located in Camperdown, Sydney, the farm is a great place to get your hands dirty, as you play, learn and educate in this bustling inner city community hub.
We recently chatted to Emma Bowen of Pocket City Farms and received some great insight into the small business, a brand which is tackling sustainability through local action and growing chemical free produce.
Perhaps Pocket City Farms will empower you too after reading this. I mean what could be better? Growing some of your own food, cooking it up, and sharing it around the table amongst friends, because after all, "a local food system is one of the most important ways we can connect."
[TLSE] How did you see the need or want to create Pocket City Farms?
[Emma] Sometime around 2011, my partner Zag and I decided we wanted to begin farming despite living in the middle of Sydney!! We were increasingly interested in the stories and origins of our food. We were both in publishing at the time and I was editing a sustainable lifestyle magazine whilst interviewing some international urban farms I was interested in.
We knew it was the path we wanted to go down; we could see the role that urban farms play in helping connect a huge population of people who otherwise don’t have the opportunity to connect with food growing in that way.
Around the same time we were starting to explore how to make this work, we met Karen, our other co-founder, an architect who was keen to see urban farms tied in with our buildings, rooftops and other urban spaces; so naturally, we joined forces.
How did you look towards the long-term future of your business?
We knew it was going to be a hard path to take, trying to find space to grow in Sydney where land is at an absolute premium and being jumped on left and right by development! It was almost six years from starting our business, until we actually opened the farm at Camperdown. That allowed us plenty of time to learn as we went, make some productive and educational mistakes and develop the skill sets we needed to run our social enterprise.
We have always felt that our main goal of Pocket City Farms has been to kickstart urban farming in Sydney; so went into this farm with the aim of either starting more ourselves, or helping or inspiring other to start. This is still the goal.
We have worked on ensuring that what we have in Camperdown is sustainable both in its financial capacity and operations; now that we are beginning to feel comfortable with that, we are hopeful to confirm more urban farm space very soon.
How did you decide on a collective business model as a working community?
Few things are more powerful than food in connecting community. Food ought to be accessible, inclusive, affordable and honest, and at this time of our lives, most of our food system is not and is in fact very broken. Yet a local food system is one of the most important ways we can connect - with each other and with the way our food is grown. We should have ownership over the very important and simple necessity that is food, and so it has always been important to us that the farm has been very inclusive within our local community. We are always working on ways to expand upon our non-profit structure to build upon that inclusiveness and community.
The community involvement has been the most rewarding component of our farm at Camperdown Commons. In the last three years we have witnessed a wonderful network develop across so many different facets of the space, and the support and rejuvenation that we gain from that has been vital.
How do you remain adaptive to nature when farming and as such adaptive as a business?
Farming regeneratively in its very essence requires us to remain adaptive to nature, everything we do is in response to it and dictated by it - by seasons, by weather patterns, by soil conditions, pests, diseases, and even the people presence. We adapt and respond to it all and create patterns and solutions to fit. And this of course is our business being adaptive, and so it becomes one and the same. As an example we are currently responding to a pest on one of our greens which will mean a little downtime for that green. As a result we are implementing other revenue streams such as growing more seedlings and micro greens to allow for that.
Food ought to be accessible, inclusive, affordable and honest.
Pocket City Farms has developed this thriving business by working with and respecting the diversity of nature, farming and community. The Farm undertakes a great deal of educational workshops, bringing kids and adults to the farm to share its knowledge and their philosophy. A small business that dreamed big about urban farming payed off knowing that time is earthed. Its ways of farming are crafted and designed, executed beautifully.
Words by Isabelle Clark, TLSE
Find Out More about Pocket City Farms, HERE