Humans of Alfalfa House – Meet Tom

We recently spoke with Tom, regular Alfalfa House shopper and Members Council Treasurer since December 2018. Tom is an integral part of the Alfalfa House team and we couldn’t do it without him!

1. Please tell us a bit about your background
I’m a drifter from North of the border. When I first moved down to Sydney a few years back, I fell in love with the dedication of the people of the Inner West to their craft, whatever that may be. So I ended up moving to Enmore to get amongst it, with the added plus of being close to some of my favourite live music venues.

While I’ve worn a few different hats over time (mostly due to a lack of melanin), the dark arts I practice most these days would be:
accounting, improv comedy, a few foreign languages and cooking. Witchcraft and wizardry will hopefully make the list in 2021.

2.If you could choose 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be?

Goofy, hungry, lanky

3.How long have you been shopping with Alfalfa House/how long have you been on the MC?

I’m gonna say I’ve been a shopper at AH since 2017. I clambered onto the decks of the MC as Treasurer in December 2018.
What made you decide to join the MC and why do you choose to shop with AH?
Deciding to join the MC was out of a want to use my skills to tangibly give back to the vibrant community that I draw a lot from.
I shop with Alfalfa for the friendly welcome you get as soon as you step in the door. Plus the generous nature of everyone involved (staff, vollies and members alike) all united by the great leveller-good, nutritious grub! Alfalfa has that good grub in spades.

4.What’s your favourite item in store?

It’s a tie between Peanut butter bars and Tempeh Temple Tempeh.

Humans of Alfalfa House – Meet Roisin

We recently chatted with Roisin, one of our permanent volunteers here at the co-op. We love having Roisin here and appreciate all the help she gives us and the effort she puts in every week – thank you for always bringing your warmth and positive energy into the co-op Roisin 🙂

1.Please tell us a bit about you – what you do, what you’re passionate about etc

I did a degree in Agricultural Science, as I was very passionate about plants, Indigenous land management, entomology and local, small scale sustainable growing of food. During this time I developed a love for community orientated work and research, I hope to pursue a PhD in this area. I am currently in a transitory period of applications for work and a phd.

I am passionate about swimming in the sea, riding, spending time with friends and family, cooking and community initiatives; gardening more in tune with nature such as syntropic farming and indigenous farming; social justice; composting; the interrelation of plants, insects and plant pathogens, research, and reducing food millage. Other passions include listening to funky 70s music, disco, electronic instrumental music and Euro pop, writing, discovering new books to read, doing crosswords on the weekend, reading the paper, playing chess comedy nights, art galleries, old/ interesting buildings, having a boogie, and spending time and being there for my friends, family and having little dinner does, being silly, having a good yarn with people and going on adventures.

2. If you could choose 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be?

Radiant, silly bugger, joyous

3. How long have you been shopping with/volunteering with Alfalfa House

I started shopping here when I moved to Sydney nearly 6 years ago, I was volunteering at the USYD food cooperative while I was studying. I have been amongst it more for the last two years as in my honours year I started volunteering at Alfalfa house when I could, and I started again this year and have recently become a permanent volunteer!

4. Why do you choose to shop here/volunteer here?

Cooperatives are wonderful spaces of solidarity, self resilience, socialism, and creativity. It is a social space not just a place where you go in and out of fluorescent lights, perhaps strike up an awkward conversation and bing yourself back into the hussle and bussle of the outside world. This cooperative is a local hub for connection with often like minded members, sharing this commonality, excitement and passion for – community run projects, supporting the environment and social justice. This means your conversations are always interesting and with warm intentions and really lovely connections in your community can be developed. Food cooperatives promote the capacity to create change you wish to see in how you purchase your fruit and vegetables. Things could include reducing plastic, local products, less herbicides/ pesticides on the fruit and vegetables you eat- supporting these farmers and producers by paying a wholesale price, moving away from supporting big corporations that rip of farmers and the supply chain and are supporting mass production of food and monocultures that are degrading the soil,

Volunteering is a way to support the running of the cooperative, immerse yourself in the community and spend more time in the nice earthy space that the cooperative is, provide more structure and time to just give back to a space you love, as well meaning the grocery shop is reduced in cost which is very helpful!

5. What’s your favourite item in store?

There are so many wonderful groceries and products! I do love the black sapote whilst it is very rich and not my day to day go to. It’s my favourite item because it comes at a time of year when things are darker, colder, and shorter, and is a great treat to share also perhaps because I am a chocolate fiend. It is something I had never seen in other grocery stores in nsw which is cool!

Black Sapote Baked Custard with Blueberry Compote

Recipe and images courtesy of Sandra Clark, one of our members and volunteers

Closely related to the Persimmon and native to Central America and Mexico, Black Sapote is often referred to as the Chocolate Pudding Fruit due to its resemblance to dark chocolate. Sapote is delicious when eaten as a dessert, in milkshakes, ice cream or as a replacement to chocolate due to its dark brown colour.

When the fruit is picked it is still green and you will need to wait about a week for it to ripen. When ripe, the flesh is dark brown to almost black and is soft and squishy to the touch. It has a beautiful creamy texture, similar to a ripe avocado and is sweet in flavour like a custard apple.

Black Sapote has a low fat content and is high in fibre and Vitamin C making it a great alternative to sweets.

Black Sapote Baked Custard with Blueberry Compote

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Equipment Needed: 2 saucepans, 2 bowls, fine sieve, whisk, wooden spoon, oven proof casserole dish or baking tray, glass pots or ceramic ramekins (ovenproof)


1 whole black sapote
600ml milk (any kind)
1 vanilla pod (split lengthwise) or vanilla essence
90g rapadura sugar
2 tblsp cold water
2 tblsp hot water
5 egg yolks (keep leftover egg whites and use in another recipe like omelette or biscuits)
1 whole egg

Blueberry compote
350g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
80ml agave (or sweetener of choice)
Rind and juice of 1/2 lemon


1. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C.
2. In a saucepan, heat milk with vanilla bean to boiling point, set aside.
3. Cut black sapote in half, remove seed and scoop out flesh. Puree with a fork.
4. In another saucepan heat rapadura sugar with the cold water until caramelised. Add the hot water to dilute the caramel. Put back on the heat and stir until smooth. Set aside
5. Put the egg yolks and eggs in a bowl and slowly add the caramel. Add black sapote then pour into milk. Pass through the mixture through a fine sieve.
6. Pour mixture into glass pots and place in a casserole dish
7. Half fill casserole with boiling water and cover with a lid or foil.
8. Cook for 25 mins or until just set. Leave in the hot water for 5 mins before refrigerating.

Blackberry compote:
9. Place half the blueberries and the rest of ingredients in a saucepan
10. Bring to boil and cook for 8 minutes
11. Remove from heat and add rest of blueberries.
12. Serve with blueberry compote or fresh strawberries.

• Use leftover egg whites in omelettes or in biscuits

All about BUCKWHEAT featuring delicious buckwheat pancakes

Recipe and blog post courtesy of Sandra Clark, member at Alfalfa House

Closely related to Rhubarb, buckwheat seeds or grouts can be used in a variety of ways. They are not a grain, but as the seeds or grouts they can be used as a grain substitute. By grinding the grouts you can make your own buckwheat flour, the base for Sarasen crepes made in Brittany in France and soba noodles, popular in Japan.

Native to south east Asia, the first recorded use dates back to China in the 5th Century. The name buckwheat however is derived from the Dutch word “beechwheat” as the triangular shaped seeds resemble beech nuts. It was first introduced into Europe in the middle ages where it became popular as a minor crop. It was also grown in North America, Africa and Brazil.

The Buckwheat plant is very hardy and grows in cold climates with poor soil. It can be used as a whole grain or as a flour but cannot be used to make bread. The most famous buckwheat of all buckwheat dishes is the Kasha, a specialty of Russia.

How do you use buckwheat?

Soak whole buckwheat grouts overnight then strain. Cover with water and cook for around 30 minutes and serve hot with poached fruits.

Bircher buckwheat:
Use cold porridge mix above and stir through natural yoghurt, honey, banana and dates.

Use buckwheat flour to make breakfast pancakes or blinis which can be topped with anything you like

Buckwheat pancakes with pineapple, banana and toasted coconut flakes

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Equipment Needed: 2 bowls, coffee/spice grinder, sieve, whisk, non-stick fry pan


3 free range eggs (separated)
65 g ground buckwheat grouts
60 g plain organic soft flour
1 tablespoon honey
1 tsp baking powder
140 ml milk
Pinch sea salt
¼ Pineapple- peeled, core removed and finely sliced
1 banana
50g coconut flakes
Maple syrup
Natural Yoghurt ( optional)

Cooking method

1. Pre heat oven to 150 degrees C.
2. DRY INGREDIENTS: Make buckwheat flour by placing grouts in a coffee grinder and grind until fine. Measure flour then add to plain flour. Sieve into a bowl. Add baking powder and salt
3. Toast coconut flakes (dry) in the oven on a baking tray for around 10 minutes until golden
4. WET INGREDIENTS: Separate eggs, place yolks in a bowl and beat lightly with a whisk or fork then add milk.
5. Make a well in the centre of the DRY ingredients and slowly add WET ingredients.
6. Finally add honey.
7. Whisk egg whites until they form firm peaks, ( will hold firm on the whisk) then gently fold through batter.
8. Heat a non-stick frypan to medium heat, spoon in batter leaving space around each. Cook 2-3 minutes per side. Keep warm on a plate in the oven while making next batch.
9. Serve with sliced pineapple, sliced banana, toasted coconut flakes and a drizzle of maple syrup and maybe a spoon of homemade natural yoghurt.

For coeliacs and gluten free diets simply use 125g buckwheat flour and no plain four.
Other topping ideas:
Blueberry, banana and agave syrup
Caramelised apple or pear and chopped roasted hazelnuts

Woman cooking in the kitchen

War on Waste: Alfalfa House meets Caroline Brakewell

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Our Monthly Challenge: Be The Change

There is always more to do as the War on Waste continues.. in our homes, our neighbourhood and our community. The sharing of ideas, identifying and problem solving what’s within our reach, is a great place to start. Find a local campaign and help out. Involve our children, our neighbours, our local business owners and workplaces and begin by asking the simple question, “What can I do to contribute to the War on Waste?”

We spoke to volunteer and Alfalfa House member, Caroline Brakewell to find out how she’s contributing.

Let’s Get To Know…

Woman holding two bunches of carrots at a market

Name: Caroline Brakewell
Everyone knows her as: C
Star sign: Libra. Unbalanced!
What makes you happy? My toddler. World peace.
What do you do for work? Health coach, chef, mamma and Marketing Director at Alfalfa House.
What do you do for fun? Travel. Dip in the ocean and nature. Hang with friends.

How long have you been a member? Around a year

What made you join Alfalfa House?
I was introduced by a friend who’s been a member for years. I love the philosophy of not for profit and waste reduction. Plus the great discount on food from some of Australia’s best suppliers and knowing I’m supporting them.

What’s the main products you buy at Alfalfa?
Everything. I’m addicted to the chocolate coated macadamia nuts and turmeric paste. Knowing I’m feeding my daughter pesticide-free produce is a big pull for me.

What was the catalyst to you becoming an eco warrior?
I’ve been pretty conscious since my 20s but I think stats like plastic particles taking over the number of fish in the ocean was too alarming to ignore, so I tightened up much more.

Name 3 things you recycle?
Hard plastic, cardboard & clothing

Name 2 things you reuse?
Glass and old containers for shopping at farmers’ markets and at Alfalfa House.

Name 1 item you have repurposed?
Clothes. I very rarely buy new ones and give away mine to my Goddaughter in Scotland.

Was it hard to start?
It’s been a gradual process that started many years ago when I was living in London and I’d refuse to use plastic bags. I educated myself and made more changes where I could.

Any tips on organisation skills to reuse or recycle?
Have my bags, jars and containers packed and ready every time I leave home. Use the carriage on my pram to store shopping in.

What is that one piece of waste that irks you?
Plastic wrapped fruit in supermarkets. Supermarkets full stop.

Who in your circle do you admire their war on waste? And why?
All of the speakers and presentations at our recent open day. All doing their bit whilst educating others to create a ripple effect in our communities.

What’s your favourite War on Waste campaign that you’ve heard of?
I think the Alfalfa House Zero Waste philosophy, which has been around since 1981 is in perfect alignment with the War on Waste campaign.

What is your one piece of advice for someone who is thinking about becoming an eco-warrior but doesn’t know where to start?
Start somewhere. Refuse plastic bags. Encourage your family to do the same. Look at what you can reuse. Ask if you really need that new dress when you can buy second hand.