Sustainable Café Geelong - Little Green Corner
When you live for local produce, zero wasting, veganism, sharing and delicious food, it can be difficult to enjoy eating out. Many places showcase locally made or grown food, lots now offer vegan options, and the quality of meals is ever-increasing, however waste reduction, community connection and sustainability are generally very low on the priority list for most businesses. One place that ticks all boxes is Little Green Corner. You'll find this little gem in the Little Ryrie Street carpark, sun pouring through the front windows and dried vegetables and flowers hanging around the doorway. Stepping inside, you'll find more preserved food in jars lining the rooms, pumpkins and herbs decorating the tables, and a shelf of books, tools and seeds for sale. It's warm, it smells of freshly baked muffins, and it's gorgeous.
The legends behind this place are Hugh Whitehead (owner) and Chris Welsh (chef) who have clearly been in love with great produce and seasonal eating for many years. Their ethos is written on the sign below. When was the last time you visited a place that advertised its core values at the front door? The LGC menu is small (often just four dishes) and changes regularly, depending on the season and what is in abundance from their fresh produce suppliers. Most food is obtained from Green Corner Farm, managed by Hugh's somewhat famous in-laws in Waurn Ponds, and is organically farmed. Meat is often sourced from Raven's Creek Farm down the road in Moriac. Milk is delivered waste-free in old-fashioned metal drums from Schultz Organic Dairy, Timboon. Other produce is often sourced from Brydie and Tom of Kinsfolk farm, also in Moriac, and from Ben Shaw out at Basil's Farm on the Bellarine. If you're especially lucky, you might find truffles on the menu, sourced from the Central Highlands (near Daylesford)! All food scraps are composted (if not already pickled or preserved!), containers are re-used or recycled, and almost nothing goes to landfill where possible.
As I mentioned earlier, sharing and community are prioritised too. At LGC, this means locals can bring in surplus produce in exchange for coffee - they have a blackboard map with producers marked in that gives a wonderful perspective. Glut of apples, anyone? These guys go a step further and run regular workshops to teach locals about anything from cooking, to preserving, to foraging wild foods, to organic gardening (see my first ever blog post 'Mushroom Foraging' for more). Currently, Hugh and Chris have a small garden around the back of the café with a small amount of fresh herbs, greens and flowers for kitchen use, which they have kindly let me take care of this year in exchange for the occasional filter coffee and warm bowl of porridge. Mmmmm.
Chris's food highlights the fresh flavours and high quality of the organic produce beautifully - a carrot is not just a carrot at LGC! All meals are warm and filling, perfectly seasonal and often accompanied by homemade brews, such as quince cordial, fruit liquor or hot spiced apple juice. They are always happy to cater for vegans and vegetarians, and often have at least one vegan dish at any given time and more than one vego dish. I will always have a soft spot for the porridge made with house-made almond milk and Dad's Oats. Look out for fresh, colourful salads this spring too!
In summary, we love this place and are thankful for all we've learned (and eaten) from our friends here. I hope I've inspired you to wander in soon and check it out - be sure to pop out the back to check out the patch! Find them on Instagram @littlegreencorner and on Facebook. Closed on weekends, with some weekend workshops coming up in September.