25 September 2016

GIY (Grow It Yourself)

© Disney
Do you remember Remy, the hairy hero of Disney’s Ratatouille movie? Do you think he still visits the neighbor's balcony garden to get some basil? Of course not! Now he has his own garden in his small Paris apartment!


Glen Barratt is a chef too. A real one. He is the chef at the Wild Canary bistro, located outside of Brisbane, Australia. The bistro offers colored meals elaborated with local ingredients only. The Locavore café, which we discovered in the previous article, also serves local food however Wild Canary goes even further: lots of the ingredients are grown at the bistro itself! Glen has a kitchen garden, at the entrance of the place...

One Climate One Challenge Gheung Meza Grow It Yourself

We went to the bistro and met Glen. He could explain to us how fortunate it is to be able to grow food on site and how the garden influences the menu: “The meals are adapted depending on what is fresh in the garden. The weather also influences what we put on the menu. The garden allows the customers to see what is normally available in the season. For me, getting immediate access to fresh ingredients is fantastic!” Several times during our lunch we saw one of Glen’s assistant popping out of the kitchen and go pick something from the garden!

The young lady is picking up some apple mint for a tea!


“The garden is a nice mix of permaculture and organic,” Glen explains. Organic is now common in western countries. It consists mainly in avoiding synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which have negative impacts on the environment and on health. Then what is permaculture? In agriculture, permaculture is about natural methods of growing food. It promotes diversity and rotation of crops, in small areas. It is energy-wise and imitates the no waste, closed loops seen in numerous ecosystems. Also permaculture fosters the role each crop can play in a garden.

One Climate One Challenge Gheung Meza Grow It Yourself

For instance “there are good bugs and bad bugs in the garden,” says Glen. “The good ones eat the bad ones! For that I must have specific white flowers to attract these good predatory bugs. It takes place, but it is all more natural. If a crop is severely affected by bad bugs, we would recycle it and turn it into compost for example!”

Permaculture maintains the soils healthy, like other sustainable ways of growing. In France it has already demonstrated great results, in terms of productivity in particular. Today one-third of arable lands on Earth is degraded. In a sustainable society this will not be.
Carolina had a Roast Winter salad: pumpkin, sweet potato, parsnip, heritage carrot, fennel, grilled haloumi, pumpkin hummus, seeds, balsamic reduction. Knowing the story of the ingredients, the dish had a special taste!

One Climate One Challenge Gheung Meza Grow It Yourself Glen adds: “Sometimes we grow things just so people can see that it's easy and something they too can do at home. Also in the past we have done many workshops here - like organic pest control or composting.” Right! We can all be gardeners! Of course having a house with a garden helps. Nevertheless today there are more and more options for growing food on a balcony or even inside an apartment.

© Botanic
It may not be possible to grow potatoes since they require deep ground, but growing herbs like basil is possible. More and more gardening shops offer solutions. In France, the shop Botanic sells vertical garden furniture. On a daily basis, gardening applications on smartphones can assist. Gardroid is an application in English. Mon jardin potager is available for French speaking planters.

Eating local food avoids transportation and refrigeration which generate carbon emissions.
A message of the Ratatouille movie is “Anyone can cook”, we say: “Anyone can grow”!

The garden is located at the entrance so that people can see it.

One Climate One Challenge Gheung Meza Grow It Yourself


08 September 2016


One Climate One Challenge Gheung Meza Locavore
Local: [from Latin localis] Belongs to a place.
-vore: [from Latin vorare] A combining form meaning “one that eats” what is specified by the initial element.
Locavore: Who eats local food!


The first time we read about the café Locavore, we thought that the name was made-up. Nice and made-up. However the adjective locavore actually exists! It was even the 2007 Word of the Year in the Oxford American Dictionary: “A person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.”

“I opened the café in May 2015. I created the place from scratch.” We had the pleasure of meeting Nathan Olsson at his café, in suburb of Woolloongabba in Brisbane, Australia. What is special about Locavore café? The food ingredients are locally grown! Nathan explains: “A large majority of the products is locally supplied. We follow the three principles you can see on the wall there: local, ethical, sustainable. If the ingredient is not local, then it has to be ethical and sustainable. I do not supply from overseas, except for a few products like coffee. My coffee comes from a trusted purchaser who imports ethical coffee. In total I work together with around 20 suppliers. It was hard to find them at the start! The further suppliers are a few hundred kilometers far from here.” This is a great achievement for a café with such a large menu!

One Climate One Challenge Gheung Meza Locavore
This is Nathan! "Local, ethical, sustainable": 3 words that we like!
A common definition of local food is food grown within 150km of its point of purchase or consumption. The benefits of this local supply initiative are multiple; the first one is the environmental benefit. Transportation and refrigeration of the products is reduced. Both of them being energyvore!


Nathan gives some more details: “Of course I have to fit with customers’ expectations. The most difficult product to get is cheese. My haloumi cheese comes from a local Greek family located 300km from here! But for instance maple syrup is impossible to find in Australia, so I don’t use it. Following the seasonality I change the menu every two or three months.

And sometimes it gets complicated due to unexpected events! At the beginning of the year, we had this avocado crisis in Australia! The price of Australian avocado rose very high, so it disappeared from my menu for some time. Some customers could not understand why I would not import from New Zealand. Well I was following the principles of the café! You have to know that avocado is very popular in Australia, especially for breakfast!”

One Climate One Challenge Gheung Meza Locavore

Nathan is a young and serene manager. He created the place for environmental reasons but also because he wanted to support local business. “I have a passion for the farmers in doing what they do. I wanted to support them in my way. In Australia, there are three big supermarket chains which control everything. They can do whatever they want; they put lots of pressure on the small farmers. By getting the products directly from small producers you avoid the big supply food chains.” A similar situation can be found in several western agricultural countries, like the USA or France. Consuming local helps ensure an equitable income for producers. Also fresh food increases the wellbeing and health of the consumers, since nutrients are not lost during long supply chains.

Nathan adds: “Before Locavore, I’ve worked in the food industry for 10 years. I heard lots of sad stories, even ones about farmers committing suicide. It didn’t seem right to me.” But things are changing! “There is actually a trend in Australia,” says Nathan. “Since beginning of 2015, the locavore movement has been more and more popular within the hospitality sector like coffee shops, restaurants.” Quite positive! And it is slowly changing all around the world. In France, the locavore movement is established. Same in the USA. In California, on its high-tech campus of Mountain View, Google named its cafeteria Café 150 because it sources its ingredients from within 150 miles (around 240km). In Canada, Ontario region, the company 100km Foods specializes in the distribution of only local and sustainable foods.

In Coffs Harbour, the café Happy Frog invites you to meet the growers!

Eating local brings social and economic benefits, in addition to the environmental ones. In the future this change to local consumption will not only concern food but, as much as possible, it will have to cover many kinds of goods.

Another place in Brisbane: Plenty.
"Locally sourced, responsibly grown - Know your farmer"

Here is a map locating the main suppliers of Locavore Café.
All within 150km.

At Locavore Café :)