Urban Eatin’ Garderners Worker Coop is a group of young gardeners that responded to increased interest in local food production and environmentally sustainable yard care.
They came together in 2008 to launch a service to build and maintain vegetable and culinary gardens for private residences and public spaces. Urban Eatin’ offers consultation and design services, installation and maintenance of private gardens.
“We like to work with a mixture of culinary plants and perennial tea gardens,” says Naomi Audia.“We do offer some on-going maintenance and lawn-care services, but we are not interested in laying sod and creating gardens of lawn.”
The group also creates raised beds and trellises, and makes compost boxes from used pallet wood which was destined for the dump. They have also expanded into presenting workshops on edible landscaping, seed starting and creating cob ovens.
“Don’t mow your lawn — eat it!” jokes Naomi Audia, a founding member of Urban Eatin’.
In 2011 ACU gave Urban Eatin’ a Sustainable Community Grant to hire a co-ordinator. “It was just the kick-start we needed,” says Audia. “It helped to turn us around and made us a viable organization.” Another grant in 2012 under the Community Enterprise Development Grant Program helped Urban Eatin’ to streamline office procedures and be more organized. “We find it hard to price our work,” Audia admits.
“Our work is artisanal and we are far from one of those ‘Mow, Blow and Go’ lawn-care services. So we are using this grant to partner with ParIT Worker Co-op to implement a job-costing and client-feedback system.”
The members of the co-op take pride in their work and particularly enjoy visiting the gardens they have helped to create and seeing how excited their clients are as their gardens grow.
Urban Eatin’ also undertakes considerable work with community groups. A recent project was to help the Greenheart Housing Co-op on Sherbrook Street plan and install a community garden which was also supported by a Sustainable Community Grant from ACU. Urban Eatin’ helped the residents to plan the garden and then worked with them on a one-day blitz to plant it. “This was one of the most beautiful jobs to do,” enthuses Audia. “Throughout the day people would pull me aside and say how amazing it was to see the residents working together and accomplishing a task. The whole experience made us all realize that everyone has a skill set and that there is a place and role for everyone in a community.”
Supporting community is at the heart of ACU’s Community Enterprise Development Grants Program, designed to help co-ops and social enterprises take the next step in their development.