“We’re just two guys passionate about growing food and making edible gardens accessible to all,” explain Grant LaBrooy and Byron Smith, the masterminds behind Urban Growers.
One of the most admirable features of the ‘locals’ scene in Sydney is the commitment of independent businesses to work as a community in promoting sustainable produce and, at times, place protecting the environment over profit. Of all the local start-ups perhaps none preaches sustainability as wholeheartedly as Urban Growers.
The partnership between Grant, a one-time chef who has lived in Alpine Switzerland and ubercool Sweden, and Byron, with a background in environmental science and landscape gardening, is a perfect horticultural match. They met when Grant was chef at Bronte’s Three Blue Ducks. Their roots are not dissimilar, both raised in the countryside: Grant in Goulburn where he has fond memories of eating apricots off the trees; Byron grew up around orchards and chickens in Moruya. They are now striving to bring a little bit of the countryside into an urban setting.
Urban Growers started life around two years ago and both partners bring their own dynamic touch to this permaculture business. “We want to bring a small urban farming lifestyle to residential people, something that they can harvest and use,” reveals Byron. “Something the kids can be involved in – sustainable, organic, getting people more in touch with the seasons. Reconnecting people with how it all works and their role in that. It’s a full circle. Permaculture adds another dimension to the traditional gardener, the sustainability side of things is the unique angle.”
“We play to our strengths,“ explains Grant. “Byron is really quite thorough on all the fine details and nutting out every box which needs to be ticked.” Byron returns: “Grant has 16 years of skills in the kitchen and cooking and pretty much everything we grow can be used in the kitchen. We are both passionate about what we are doing and this is the most important thing. I have studied a fair bit of environmental courses in my time which really helps with the bigger picture thinking.”
Their client portfolio is wide-ranging from commercial businesses wanting cafe gardens to schools, where education is something they would like to develop further. Organic is a pretty rounded description for their approach to marketing as well. “We don’t force our service on anyone,” says Byron. “All of our work has come through work we have done and network. We are establishing ourselves as something that is niche.“
Their approach to being truly authentic? “Being local means we go to the local chemist rather than a franchise. We buy our bread locally, and so on. We show our support for local businesses, it might feel like you pay a little extra but it all comes back around.” Or full circle in permaculture parlance.
Address Level 1, 150 Edgecliff Rd, Woollahra NSW 2025
Phone 0408 017 960