Homegrown café: healthy local food, rare seasonal coffee, and negligible landfill

Great for kids

Richard Bruinsma

Visitors to Homegrown café in Palmwoods will be well satisfied by the savoury meals, the locally-made cakes and slices, as well as their unique delicious coffee (roasted only for themselves onsite), but they will also be impressed by the café’s sustainability ethos.

Sarah Wright, who has owned and operated Homegrown in its quaint and quiet location since 2012, is passionate about great food, being sustainably sourced and made.

“As the name suggests, here at Homegrown we serve food that we’ve made ourselves and sourced very locally, so it’s reflective of what produce is available to us on the Sunshine Coast – it’s all about local, sustainably-sourced food,” Sarah explained.

“We cook everything fresh to order, we have a couple of bakers who come in and bake the cakes for us, using a pretty much an old-style kind of baking.

“And our food, right from scratch – our bread, our pasta – is all made here on site, we make our brioche for our French toast for our breakfasts, so right from the outset, we’ve got better control over what ingredients are being used and keeping it fresh and local.”

Homegrown is also proud of its own veggie patch out back, which is not only environmentally sensible but also good for business.

“Climate is sometimes a bit limiting, but in winter we can be totally self-sufficient in the vegetables that we use in the café, so that’s kind of cool.”

Homegrown also has a small 5kg roaster in the tin shed out back, where they roast their own mixes of coffee beans, personally-selected and differing each season, just for their own customers.

“My husband Gary does the roasting, so he looks at what coffees are available, and he chooses three varietals of beans according to their flavour, so we get a blend that’s well-balanced,” Sarah said.

“Again, it’s also seasonal, we make the coffee blend reflective of the season – often in winter you want a heavier more-chocolatey kind of coffee that’s got a fuller body, and then in summer a coffee that’s a bit more lively and a bit more acidic on the palate.”
Along with the unique food and coffee philosophies, Homegrown is committed strongly to minimising waste – so much so, at one stage its daily waste barely filled a coffee cup.

Vegetable scraps and coffee grounds get composted into their own garden behind the shop, which grows leafy greens and herbs, while food leftovers are collected daily by OSCA technologies and processed to become fertiliser – so the only waste generated daily is a small bag of plastic packaging (which also was previously “recycled” by the major supermarkets until that was controversially stopped).

Homegrown is a member of the international Slow Food organisation, which promotes good, clean and fair food. Its philosophy is to “prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat”. 

“We make sure that we are sensitive to the environment in all our practices, so we source food that is grown in a sustainable way, with the least inputs of chemicals, and organically and sustainably grown, using good soil management,” Sarah explained.

“We make sure that we don’t generate waste, so we make sure we recycle all our waste, and we make sure that where we source our food, the workers are treated fairly with good work practices, so it brings a social aspect of food into it as well.”

The genuine focus on sustainability is something Sarah believes makes Homegrown unique.

“We can showcase how cafes can operate and be almost waste-free, and it’s not a hard model to put into place, you just need to have a system where you split your rubbish into your compostables, your recyclables and the small amount, hopefully, that goes to landfill,” she said.

And of course, the beautiful location of the café is also one that draws guests, with a garden tucked away in behind the shopfronts of central Palmwoods.

“It’s also something unique, we’ve kept some trees that were already here to give nice shade, it’s a slightly elevated garden so you can get a nice breeze on a hot day, and it gives people an opportunity to sit outside, enough room for kids to run around, you can actually in the garden and enjoy the atmosphere there.”

Homegrown is located at 4/6 Main Street, Palmwoods, Queensland.

More information is available at: https://www.facebook.com/homegrownpalmwoods

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