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Where does our food come from?

An Interview with team member Carina Fisk Charlton

I became a member at Alfalfa House when I was working at an organic wholesaler that supplies food to shops and co-ops across Australia. Being passionate about shopping waste-free and I found I could get everything I needed at Alfalfa. I spent a few years volunteering and became a paid staff member in February last year.

Alfalfa prides itself on its ethics. How does this determine what we choose to sell?

There is a process when it comes to stocking new products at Alfalfa House, and each product must fit certain criteria that embody the term ‘ethical food’. We focus on local, farmer direct, organic, Australian, bulk and plastic-free, or low impact packaging, and we don’t stock items that don’t meet one or more of these standards.

What does farmer-direct mean and how does this work in practice at the co-op?

Farmer-direct means we have a working relationship with the people who grow our food. This works exceptionally well in our co-op, as members love knowing who grew what and exactly where it came from, even down to when it was picked. We pride ourselves on having this knowledge, and it wouldn’t be possible without these farmer-direct relationships.

How is this helping our planet?

When there is a straight line from us to the people growing our food, the profits of the produce go directly to the farm. This can be really empowering for our farmers and encourages them and others to continue to grow food in a more sustainable way.

What kind of products are unique to Alfalfa?

We have a unique range of bulk items. I haven’t been to any other grocery store in the Inner West that sells bulk milk, tofu, cheese and butter. Even things like body lotion, face cream and cleansers are impossible to get packaging-free, so it’s really exciting to have access to all of these products.

We also have a huge range of plastic-free items like tempeh wrapped in banana leaves, vegan cheese and potato crisps in compostable packaging. There’s just nowhere else where you can get all of these products under one roof.

Any thoughts on supermarkets that sell plastic covered bananas or oranges?

This is my biggest, pet peeve! We don’t sell any produce in plastic at Alfalfa House, and it’s not a great challenge for us, so I don’t see why supermarkets can’t do this too.

What are your future hopes for Alfalfa House and other co-ops, globally?

I hope Alfalfa House can expand, attracting more and more members and shoppers, and thereby gain greater buying power, and build and strengthen our relationships with local growers. I hope one day we will live in a world where a food co-op is your regular grocery store.

** Carina recently returned to her role as Merchandise Co-ordinator, after a 6-month  stint as Co-Manager.

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Upcycle your own Mini Terrarium

By Greta

If you've got a ton of  plastic and glass jars like I do, but are running out of things to do with them, then look no further! This simple and absolutely gorgeous upcycled mini terrarium project will bring natural living beauty into your home or workspace.

The project can be made as an open or closed terrarium. If you're opting for a closed terrarium, ensure you leave 5-7cm room for your plants and the lid to be closed.

For open terrariums, consider reusing the jar lid as a cup coaster, snack dish, or a resting place for your spoons/spatulas when you cook.



  • A cleaned pre-loved jar.
  • 10-20 small stones approx. 2cm in size.
  • 1-3 small indoor plants/succulents (think small enough to fit into your preferred jar).
  • Potting mix
  • 1-3 decorative ornaments of your choice
  • A thin and pointy object (skewer, toothpick, pointy pencil etc) for making a 'well' for your plants


  • Small shovel/spoon for scooping potting mix
  • Spray bottle with water


  1. Depending on what look you're going for, remove and clean the label from your jar.
  2. Place stones in the jar to create the water draining layer.
  3. Using your shovel/spoon, heap on potting mix for your second layer. For open terrariums, leave 2cm room on top. For an enclosed terrarium, leave a 5-7cm breathing space for your plants and the lid to be closed.
  4. Using your thin and pointy object (I use a skewer), make a small well approx. 1cm deep, and spaced approx. 3cm from your other plants.
  5. Plant your plants into the well and cover.
  6. Decoration time! Place extra garden stones around the plants, and ornaments of your liking (I use crystal quartz) around the edges of the jar.
  7. Lightly spray your terrarium to moisten, ensuring it doesn't get overwatered. You don't want the water to pool at the bottom of the jar.
  8. Maintain your terrarium. For open terrariums, spray once a week. For closed terrariums, spray once a month. It's best to place your terrarium away from direct sunlight.

There you have it. your very own unique, upcycled mini terrarium. A mini-ecosystem that will thrive for years to come bringing beauty and Zen to your living space.

If you make this project, please tag #alfalfahouse on Instagram so we can see your work and feature it!

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Meet Freya Haywood Coyle, shop co-ordinator

Interviewed by Caroline Brakewell

I’ve been part of the Alfalfa team since last November and I love it.

You can find farmer direct produce that's also biodynamic or organic and an important, safe space community for people with similar principles to gather together and work as a team.

I love our community notice board. There's a wide variety of organisations and events that are run and created by our members all on display as you walk into the shop. It's a great way to get involved with the community.

As a not-for-profit, the co-op's purpose is to give back to the community. That's something that’s earned my support. I've learnt so much from being part of Alfalfa House. It's clear, people can achieve so much when they come together.

I am studying Horticulture, and focusing on conservation and bush regeneration. This aligns perfectly with what we do here. The co-op has an ethical and sustainable approach to sourcing the right produce. Alfalfa House promotes a zero-waste lifestyle that looks after the environment.

The shopping experience at Alfalfa House is different.  As a community, we all work to find the best zero-waste, ethical produce and groceries available. We encourage customers to reuse their old jars and containers and we stock things you can't find in your average supermarket. We sell in bulk, so you can buy as much/as little as you want!

My hope for the future is a zero-waste planet, with thriving fauna and flora environments.

Freya has a beautiful kelpie dog but loves all animals equally!