AUS: Ainsly urban farms supplies Canberra microgreens on a daily basis

Fiona, Michael, and their family have been living at their heritage Ainslie property, also known as Ainslie Urban Farm in Canberra, since 2007. When they moved in, the 1000 m2 block had a 69 m2 house with some red-hot pokers and two fruit trees. The house has since been extended to a modest and energy-efficient 100 m2. The couple selected the block for its generous northerly aspect, perfect for comfortable living and growing lots of produce.

Fiona has a permaculture background, including teaching alongside permaculture co-creator David Holmgren in Victoria, and teaching sustainability at Merici College in Braddon for some years. More recently, Fiona was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2020 to investigate urban farm ventures that provide vocational pathways for aspiring food growers.

Since 2013, Fiona has been growing and selling delicious pesticide-free micro-greens for weekly delivery to up to 30 local restaurants and cafes. Fiona explained that their micro-greens are grown in organic soil, which means their shelf-life, flavor, and nutrient content are outstanding. Up to 20 varieties are available at any one time.

Fiona said that it takes anywhere from 6 to 14 days from sowing to sale, depending on the time of year. Excitingly, producing the micro-greens is a no-waste endeavor – the trays are reused, and the soil is composted.

The micro-greens and any seasonal vegetable seedlings are propagated in two well-maintained glasshouses at the back of the property. Fiona waters them by hand as it gives her better control of how much water the plants get and where it lands, which equates to higher quality plants. The micro-greens are covered with frost cloth overnight during winter for extra protection.

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