Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Greenhouse by Joost - Sydney's Hippest Hang

Ok - she says hyperventilating - I may have found my eco version of Colin Firth....

This extraordinary structure is GREENHOUSE SYDNEY by Joost Bakker, a Dutch-born Melbourne architect who specialises in sustainable construction.

Here's what Joost (pronounced Yoast) has to say about his pop-up restaurant/bar near Quay restaurant at Circular Quay which is made from 3 shipping containers-

 "Some people in the building industry regard it as possibly the greenest building on Earth,” says architect Joost Bakker. “Because it’s been considered on so many levels, it probably is.
The venue is constructed from 100 per cent recycled or sustainable materials. A rooftop garden grows vegetables and herbs that are served in the restaurant downstairs. Only local or sustainable produce go into the food and drinks menus and the venue is rubbish-bin free – only waste that can be composted is allowed onto the site."

Australian artist David Bromley has painted a mural on one side of the restaurant's exterior.

The other exterior walls are covered with racks of potted strawberries.

As well as supplying the restaurant with fresh fruit, the plants act as cooling and heating insulation.

The structure is light and airy and when you're inside you feel as though you're floating on the harbour.

The walls are covered in black painted environmental slogans.
They've also beeen coated with a bio-char so carbon is absorbed and held within the walls of the structure.

Water, beer and wine come in an assortment of jars. Don't drink the flower arrangement by mistake.

The restaurant is open all day but the roof-top bar only starts heaving at 5pm.

 Joost designed and made the chairs from aluminium irrigation pipes and the seats are made from leather off-cuts from a Victorian tannery. They are remarkably comfortable.

The floors are are made from old conveyer belts...

quite ingenious really...

plantation timber utensils and hemp napkins... 

Matt Stone -winner of the 2011 Gourmet Traveller Award for Best New Talent - heads the kitchen. His short and pared down menu is served on plywood boards.

 I had half a dozen Sydney rock oysters at $3 a pop - briny and creamy...

.. and a charcuterie plate with house-made tomato bread.

Get in quick. Greenhouse by Joost  is only in Sydney for a few more weeks before it's packed up to begin its European tour to Milan, Berlin, Budapest and London.

Sydney Urban Sprawl Threathens Market Gardens

It's well-documented how Sydney's rampant urban sprawl is eating up our agricultural land at a rate of knots.

I stumbled across one of the few surviving market gardens while driving through Brighton Le Sands.

Tucked behind housing estates and the Kyeemagh RSL Club was a green oasis

With towering housing estates ominously rising in the background this market garden specialises in Asian herbs and greens.

I counted at least 40 different varieties of cabbages, herbs and lettuces.
Market gardens - typically about two hectares - play a vital role in the city's food supply, providing up to 90 per cent of our vegetables.

It's highly intensive work.... hand ploughing and digging, and lugging soils, and fertilisers with wheelbarrows.

It's a hard life but a rewarding one that has supported waves of immigrants.
Professor Frances Parker from the University of Western Sydney says the Sydney basin has the highest number of horticulturalists for any region in Australia and the highest number from different cultural backgrounds.

Increasing urbanisation has seen many market gardens concreted over for housing estates and roads

This fresh basil....

crisp spearmint...

...and crunchy continental parsley, that we all see at our local growers markets and grocery stores everyday, could soon have to be flown or trucked in from somewhere else. This will make our produce less fresh, less tasty, more expensive and cause more carbon pollution from transportation.

We need to protect our market gardens for our own food security and to support the livelihoods of market gardeners.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dangar Island, NSW - The Place That Time Forgot

We're spending 24 hours on Dangar Island.

Dangar is on the Hawkesbury river near Brooklyn about one hour's drive north  of Sydney. A perfect weekend getaway distance.

No private cars are allowed on the island.

You can get here by private boat, water taxi or by using the local ferry service.

Only about 200 residents live here permanently but during the holiday season numbers swell.

The Island was bought by the Danger family in 1864 who leased some of the island  to the Union Bridge Company of Chicago while they were building the original Hawkesbury River rail bridge.
About 400 Americans and their families lived here while the bridge was being constructed between 1886-1889.

The preferred way of carting your goods around the island is by wheelbarrow

Every family has its own!

We're staying on the Brooklyn facing side of the island in Serenity on Dangar a lovely glass tree-house holiday home

No roughing it .... all the mod-cons were here

.... including a commercial-size kitchen

Then it was off to explore. A full circumnavigation takes about 1 hour and winds through bush and gardens.

on the lookout for some grub...

exotic native flowers

secret gardens

..even a rambling pumpkin patch. The locals have learnt to become self-sufficient and there are many vegie patches.

Not 100% sure but this imposing turreted mansion looks like the original Dangar family estate.

a ginger flower

A productive vegetable garden

sorry girls - nothing for you

a magnificent white spider orchid

Another native tree with extraordinary blossoms

They remind me of hula skirts

For dinner its off to the only evening eating spot - the local club. Under the whirring ceiling fans and humid night air we dine on steak and fresh grilled garfish

The next morning our water taxi is at our mooring to collect us...

And take us back to Brooklyn. It feels like we have been away for a week. That's what Danger does to you.