CH James Cafe Sustainability Embraces Fairfield Community Garden


The World Loves Melbourne recently visited CH James and the Fairfield Community Garden to see our sustainability project in action. Here is the article: "CH James is setting the pace when it comes to cafe sustainability, storing up its weekly coffee grinds and food scraps for the last 2 years, and giving them to the fabulous Fairfield Community Garden. The World Loves Melbourne caught up with Kat from CH James and Ken and Annette from the Fairfield Community Garden to see how it all works, and go on a tour of the garden.

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CH James, a leading cafe in Melbourne with restaurant quality food in a cafe (as well as great functions), is passionate about sustainability. CH James stores its food scraps in a bin (above), for the purpose of giving them to the Fairfield Community garden. These are excellent scraps full of nutrients for the community garden.

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Also stored in a bin at the back of CH James are large bags of used coffee grinds. CH James uses Small Batch coffee, a premium roaster in Melbourne. With CH James producing more used coffee grind in recent times, the Fairfield Community Garden is able to use the grinds not just for compost but as surplus for the rest of the garden.

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Ken and Annette are passionate volunteers who spend many hours tendering the Fairfield Community Garden. We took the food scraps and used coffee grinds around to the nearby Fairfield Community Garden.

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The garden is staffed by dedicated volunteers who work a roster. Locals are able to rent a plot and some of the produce finds it's way to Farmers Markets.

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The Fairfield Community Garden is located at the end of Hamilton Street Fairfield in between the train line and walkway to Station Street. The community garden was established approximately 14 years ago and is an initiative of Interact Fairfield Disability Services. It is a dynamic work space, all the time developing according to the energies and interests of participants. It has recently begun a new phase of consolidation and development.

The Fairfield Community Garden is comprised of approximately 28 plots that are rented out annually by individuals or families who reside in the local area, or by community groups engaged in sustainable activities and which are able to contribute consistently to the garden culture. Just part of the Fairfield Community Garden (below). We were impressed by the herb and citrus garden beds, as well as veggies planted.

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Here is Ken (below) pouring the CH James food scraps into one of the large compost bins. Fairfield Community Garden encourages the public to contribute your veggie scraps to our composting initiative and have a blue container outside the gate. In the interests of keeping the Fairfield Community Garden litter-free the public is encouraged to empty scraps into a blue container at the gate and to take your bags or reusable containers home with you.  If you have compostable plastic bags, these are fine to leave in the blue container as they will break down in the compost heap.

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Annette (below) adding some of the CH James used coffee grinds to the compost.

The gardeners have been experimenting with,  and refining a layering system in the compost bays to speed up the decomposition of garden waste, including the very pesky Kikuyu and couch grasses found on the site, and this of course this  means maximising the environmental conditions for the microbes and worms to do their job (oxygen, carbon, green waste, warmth and moisture).  Ken and Annette have even fed some of the mature compost back through to CH James cafe for their planter boxes. 

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 Here is an example of the health of the soil - Annette pokes a stick into the ground and many worms appear!

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One of the products at the Fairfield Community Garden is worm juice! See the collection at the tap coming from the converted bath! Milk cartons are broken up, wetted with a hose, and used to bring oxygen to improve the compost as it breaks down. 

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Great produce abounds - if you're living in say an apartment with not a large yard - the community garden is a brilliant solution to grow your own!

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 Ken and Annette from the community garden with Kat from CH James. Often Fairfield Community garden has working bees, for example for mulching, general weeding and cleaning up the paths.

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Another great initiative is the NDIS scheme where CH James is providing it's grinds and food scraps for participants in the adjacent garden associated with the Alphington Community Hub. Participants in the scheme benefit from learning new skills around food production and preparation, wellbeing of the garden, cohesion bringing diverse groups together and sustainability. Please see theInteract Australia website.

Cool signage along the fence!"

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