The journey to establishing A Leafy Nation had ironic beginnings for Collins Creek grower Robbie Robinson.
Somehow the UTS Urban Ecology graduate found himself working for Coca Cola in sales and marketing for five years. His love of wildlife and knowledge of sustainable development in built environments was sidelined.
Then an epiphany. A 3-week volunteering holiday in Malaysia to work on a coral reef research project had Robbie gathering beach rubbish – mostly plastic Coke bottles. The stint at Coca Cola was over.
After working on more research projects like catching bilbies for a team based in a South Australian mining town, Robbie returned to Sydney. He worked at a Dural wholesale nursery, again in sales and accounts. He thrived. After two years he decided to establish his own enterprise, A Leafy Nation.
At the home-based enterprise on the Central Coast an explosion of vegetation soon reclaimed the entire property. Driveways, roofs, coffee tables were all overrun. Robbie focused on social media, word of mouth and online selling. Markets came later.
COVID promoted sales and a property boom. Robbie could sell up and buy his 3-hectare farm in the Northern Rivers where he had been sourcing new plants.
For over a year, Robbie has been living the dream of establishing his own commercial nursery, all ‘with his own hands’, and creating a biodynamic farm. His focus is on ‘useful plants’ – nourishing, medicinal and culinary flora; on diversity and polyculture; on nourishing the soil with compost and fermented tonics. And, he says, on simplifying and purifying his lifestyle to cater ‘for needs rather than wants. No alcohol, caffeine or dating.’
Increasingly he cultivates his own stock. He is now a ‘maker’ of plants, selling his wares at the Rotary Kyogle Bazaar on the fourth Saturday of each month.