The Sivyer family farm is a patch of land on the Allyn River, which flows to the Paterson, roughly east of Muswellbrook. Around 2013, David Sivyer had just turned 30 and decided to trade his work in hospitality to move back home and help run the farm.
"Just after a year or so of that, I got inspired by other things," Sivyer says.
At the beginning of 2019, he began studying social change and development at the University of Newcastle. In 2020, he was considering entering into a Masters on the subject. And for around the past six years, he founded his ever-evolving passion project, Feedback Organic Recovery, collecting food waste from cafes, restaurants and private homes in the community and converting it to rich compost used on the project's 'urban farm' in the suburbs.
"In the last couple of years, I decided that this is absolutely the future I wanted to pursue," Sivyer says.
"We put some goals in place last year around the idea that we want to be able to replicate this model for other communities. We have worked out how to do this and what stakeholders you need to be involved and from that the possibilities are pretty endless."
The urban farm - a small block of land at Cardiff Heights - is the heart of David's operation. It is where he and his team of volunteers and now around six employees compile and convert the food waste collected from around the city to the compost used to nourish a variety of organic vegetables which are the provided back to the community.
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In the past few years, the project has grown through collaborations with local schools, a 'one hour farmer' project which brings local people together to plant and maintain and harvest the property, and more recently with a 'feed box' program - a home delivery service of seasonal vegetables grown, harvested and delivered to within a 15km radius of our urban farm in Newcastle.
David's vision now is not just to see the project replicate to different communities, but also to see it driven by local people.
"We all have different reasons to be involved," Sivyer says, listing his team of volunteers and employees who have helped turn the vision to a reality, "I think community is one of them. I think making sure that we have like a sustainable regenerative agriculture is great. Employment, so that we can feel valued in taking a direction that is something different.
"I don't think it needs to be massive, but it's just about creating something that the community feels like it has and has involvement in and they can lead."
"It started as an idea for how to use food waste as a resource and has evolved in so many different ways from the get-go," Sivyer says, "And here we are now, growing food from it."