Cottage with permaculture gardens – a ‘food forest’ in Rozelle
Less than 5kms to the CBD sits a cottage on 275sqm with arguably one of the prettiest and productive grounds to be found on Sydney’s city fringe.
An urban farm disguised within a functional and easy-upkeep permaculture garden, 4 Alice Street, Rozelle has been home to Ely and Kingsley Annor-Lartey for about 4 years. In that time it’s grown into both a family home and year-round pantry, a place of solace and sustenance, bringing a sense of rural escape to this urban neighbourhood.
A walk around the site takes you on a journey amongst fruit trees, grape vines, figs and olive trees. From the rainwater to the bee hives, chicken coup and herbs, everything plays its part alongside family-friendly levels lawns and hidden alfresco spaces.
On the market with BresicWhitney, we sat down with Ely and Kingsley to ask how a permaculture project can be a family home too, and uncover how they found that balance.
Q: Firstly, what a special site. Tell us about finding it.
“We looked at this house for the first time at 6pm the night before the auction and instantly fell in love.”
Q: How much work was involved?
“When we moved in we immediately removed and replaced the exterior envelope of the house with an entirely new roof and cedar cladding. We installed recycled polyester insulation to the roof, walls and underfloor. That kept the character while adding modern comfort. The outdoor space was predominantly bare except for the very large camphor laurel tree, of which its trunk remains the centrepiece of the yard. The camphor tree became very unwell and so we had to cut it down but chose to keep the trunk in it’s memory. We have planted out the space to create somewhat of a “food forest” which is a system of gardening using a diversity of mostly perennial (long-lived species, as opposed to annual vegetables) chosen and arranged so they compliment and support each other, minimising weeds, pests and maintenance while providing a rich variety of harvests.”
Q: Where did this passion come from?
“There are probably a few layers to this. We each grew up in different parts of the world, but both in somewhat rural areas where growing your own food and having chickens etc was not uncommon but also somewhat necessary. Here in Sydney, we had a long time friend who grew a large portion of his own food in his urban garden in Redfern, he was also an amazing cook so we always enjoyed going to visit, exploring his garden and eating some of the most beautifully cooked and prepared ‘yard-to-table’ meals you could imagine. He was a huge inspiration to us and became a mentor and teacher, which we are forever grateful for. But I guess the main driver is that fact that we both have a love of quality food, and for the environment which is something we really want to pass on to our children.”
Q: Kids and family must have a huge influence on how the space is used?
A: “Absolutely! Our kids just love getting out and helping in the garden, planting seeds, harvesting food, taking care of the chickens and collecting the fresh eggs each day. Their favourite things are picking (and eating) the strawberries and when it’s time to harvest the honey from our Flow Hive, it’s a real buzz!”
Q: What are your favourite details worth noting?
“That’s a hard question to answer! The light…? The high ceilings..? The outdoor space…? Maybe it’s the energy, the house has a really calm energy about it. Our dining area opens out onto the the veranda and looks out over the yard. It’s where we enter the house, it’s where we eat, where we gather as a family, it is the heart of our home. Our guests always connecting with us in the garden because it’s so unique.”
Q: What do think will be next for 4 Alice Street?
“We hope it is loved as much as we have loved it, and we hope the next owners enjoy and reap the fruits (literally) of our labour of love.”
View: 4 Alice Street, Rozelle