Spoke & Spade

Spoke & Spade
Name: Spoke & Spade
Products: A range of seasonal vegetables
Vegan Market of Melbourne
Township/Suburb: Heidelberg West
Contact name: Sim Ash
Phone: 0430 818618
Address: 38 Coomalie Crescent, Heidelberg West, 3081
Notes (in their own words):

Spoke and Spade is an urban farm growing seasonal vegetables for the local community. They pre-sell $20 veggie boxes using the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model.

They follow organic and regenerative principles and hope to nurture soil life to create to healthy food. They grow without any nasty chemicals and prioritise Aus Certified Organic inputs (although they are not Certified Organic). They have had our soil tested to confirm their farm’s produce is free from heavy metal contamination.

As an urban farm, Spoke and Spade are growing a story for people to eat and connect to the place they live and to the farmer they purchase food from. Their aim is to encourage connections through food. From farmers to families, neighbours to soil health, and recipes to the local grocery store – all upheld as important parts of life. They hope to create not just good food in the local economy, but a greater sense of place in community. They hope to change, challenge and improve on food systems locally and abroad.

Interview: Interview by Marina Bistrin in February 2018

I met Sim Hanscamp (short for Simeon) at the Heidelberg West Food Swap and found out he had an urban farm nearby from where he is selling veggies, so my friend and I visited him shortly afterwards at his house and urban farm in Coomalie Crescent, Heidelberg West.

He is a friendly young man who has started his own business, supported by the government’s New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS). He has converted his rental property’s front and back gardens into an urban farm and is using the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model to pre-sell veggie boxes. He also has an honesty box in the frontyard with freshly picked veg and herbs for a donation. And he is growing veggies on a friend’s property in Hurstbridge.

Sim grows a wide variety of veggies, leaf salad ingredients and herbs. Though he is not organically certified, he is using the organic growing model.

To deliver his veggies, Sim has bought insulated zipped bags and includes frozen cooler blocks in there to keep his deliveries fresh. He has also just acquired a secondhand cargo bike to deliver some of them.

There’s a lovely set up for washing and drying off the fresh veggies and herbs in the shed out the back. Sim says that drying out the mixed salad greens adds shelf life, so he uses large fans to finish them off.

Sim has been using Curtis Stone’s methods from Canada as a guideline. Curtis has hundreds of videos on his YouTube channel. He has also has written a book The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land about practical methods of supporting yourself with urban farming.

Sim’s property was covered with couch grass so he used a turf cutter to lift the top layer of grass and then cultivate using the native soil and added bulk compost mixes. He has tested his soil for heavy metal contamination and is being careful to make sure that there are no unwanted non-organic additions. You can also test your soil for a small donation through Vegesafe program run by Macquarie University. He has also put in a polytunnel in the back for seedlings.

You can buy Sim’s weekly veggie boxes online.

Sim’s website is very informative, inspiring and has a lot of great photos and also lists of produce for the month. As he says on the website: “Volunteer for a box of farm goodies, conversation and garden learning. Or do you have a big backyard or vacant block? Get in touch and lets see if we could grow food on your urban block too!”

Also from Sim’s website: “Who works at Spoke & Spade? When I say we, I mostly mean me (Simeon), but ‘we’ does have a nice ring to it. We is: you, as you participate in traditional and sustainable food systems; locals who entrust land to me; chefs who make tasty meals; friends who volunteer time and eat the freshest food it can buy; artists like Kelsey Reist who create and capture photography; farmers who mentor me; and the movement towards a more sustainable future.”
  • Spoke & Spade
  • Spoke & Spade
  • Spoke & Spade
  • Spoke & Spade
  • Spoke & Spade