Little Green Corner shares their passion for ethical and sustainable produce
Meet the inspiring businesses who are participating in our Businesses Caring for Our Bays program and find out what sustainability in business means to them, and what they love most about our Bays. This week, we speak to Katie Traill and Hugh Whitehead of Little Green Corner in Geelong.
42 Little Ryrie St, Geelong
Tell us about your business
Little Green Corner is a light-filled, community-rich cafe in the heart of Geelong. In the winter you’ll find the fire roaring and hot mulled apple juice on the stove, while in the summer we keep a bottomless crock of homemade iced tea on the coffee window. Our ethos is ‘simple, local, sustainable’, creating beautiful food using old and modern practices including many from-scratch processes. Using locally sourced produce from our family farm in Waurn Ponds, wonderful suppliers and trades with beloved customers allows us to move with the seasons for maximum flavour and minimal waste.
LGC began as a place built on and for human connections with our environment, growers and each other, and these foundations remain as strong as ever five years on. Reducing waste in as many corners as we can is also something we deeply value, where eliminating single-use items has been key, such as milk cartons (replaced by ‘Schulz‘ steel pails from Timboon), takeaway containers (replaced with reusable ‘Returnr‘ swaps) and, most recently, disposable coffee cups.
One of the unique features of LGC is the hands-on, ‘granny skills’ type workshops that are offered year-round, aligning with gluts of the seasons and taught by expert friends and staff. These include things like mushroom foraging in the Otways, passata making in Autumn and sourdough bread baking. This has recently developed further into Connections, a team-building offering we’ve created for work groups linking experiences, our meeting space and nourishing food into unique programs which I am fortunate to coordinate.
I think it’s a testament to LGC’s keel of community that so many staff, myself included, have come on board after falling in love with the space, the workshops and the conversations.
What actions are you undertaking to care for your local community and environment?
Through our workshops, transparency of practice and open conversation, we aim to show locals the truth behind conventional agricultural practices and more ethical practices. We’ve been able to create and maintain fantastic relationships with suppliers and growers in the region who provide us with the most delicious, high-quality products without the waste or middle-men that come with bigger, consumer-driven companies. By providing a market for smaller, organic producers, we can keep more money and skills in our community while promoting ethical business practices on a daily basis. The workshops, team building programs and events we hold enable us to both share with and learn from others. Better choices come from better understanding, so open conversation is key.
On a more tangible level, our actions to reduce waste, grow the food we share and trade locals coffee for excess produce are simple but satisfying choices that help to minimise our impact and make life all the more enjoyable.
What motivates you to make environmentally and socially conscious business decisions?
LGC was started by Hugh Whitehead (of Barwon Heads) not long after his young family was born. This, perhaps for many of us, can be such a catalyst for acting on our deepest values, and Hugh – an already conscientious and driven person – was keen to connect his enjoyment of real, ethically grown food and respect for environment in work and life. The simplicity of how lovely a delicious meal, a good drop and great conversation feels to Hugh has always been an easy motivator – that there can be widespread benefits for nature and our health makes maintaining this approach a no-brainer. The ongoing success of LGC and future prospects of Connections reflect how worthwhile and well-received the endeavour has been.
How can your customers help you to care for your local environment and community?
We’re so lucky to have a customer base who share many of our values already mentioned. On the simplest level, joining us for a coffee, a fresh house-made muffin and a chin wag is the best! Just by reading our social media posts, perusing the local trade map at the cafe front, or asking us questions, our customers can learn so much about what our chefs create for them and why. Some may choose to go the next step and incorporate some ideas in their daily practices, even simply by supporting our move to ditch disposable coffee cups and bringing their reusable mug daily, helping to reduce landfill and spread the idea that ‘away’ really doesn’t exist when we throw things out. Of course, there are ample skills and ideas to learn and chew over through our experiences, whether that be bringing your friends along for a pasta making day with house-milled flour and fresh Little Green Farm eggs, or working with myself to construct a lovely day for your work group to meet, share food and connect.
Tell us about your favourite Port Phillip Bay creature, plant, place or ecosystem.
The beach is an LGC favourite. Hugh’s family spends many weekends and afternoons surfing, paddling or sharing a picnic on the banks of the Barwon Heads river. It’s not uncommon to spot a shy Stingray or two! A quick forage for Bower Spinach or Saltbush along the banks is a lovely addition, which is something we love to offer through our coastal foraging days.
Visit Little Green Corner at 42 Little Ryrie St, Geelong. If you’re looking for nourishing, pre-made and ready to heat meals to warm up your home, check out their Good Meal Project. Head to their website for more information on the cafe, farm, workshops and the Connections programs. Follow them on Instagram or Facebook for updates. Banner image of LGC courtesy of The Wild Social.