Camperdown Commons has always been “green”. But the manicured grass of the former lawn-bowls club has now been replaced by something quite different: a workable urban farm.

It’s run by Pocket City Farms – a small group of experienced, sustainably-minded, architecture and farming folk committed to reconnecting with food sources, and connecting communities along the way.

“The goal is just to get more farming in front of and incorporated into Sydney communities, and because we all live here it just makes sense that more food should be growing here,” says co-founder and general manager Emma Bowen.

Given the price of land in Sydney, affordable arable farmland is hard to come by, but groups such as Pocket City are turning forgotten spaces into green oases, including rooftops, car parks and, yes, bowling clubs.

And the benefits range from better, locally-grown produce to happier neighbourhoods.

“It’s not just about growing food where we live; it’s not just about building community,” says Bowen. “There’s so many wonderful benefits from urban farms and green spaces in general. They are a great way for communities to connect … and when we’re there that also improves our mental and physical wellbeing; it encourages biodiversity, too. We’ve got an amazing number of Australian native bees that have moved into Pocket City Farms, and birdlife.”

So, where can you get your knees dirty and put your green thumbs to work? Here’s some ideas.

Bourke Street Community Garden, Woolloomooloo

The Bourke Street Community Garden in the heart of Woolloomooloo is a fertile space for residents to grow their own herbs, fruits and vegetables. The communal garden, near the corner of Downing Street and Sydney Place, has compost bins and worm farms, receives new seedlings monthly and is open to visitors every day. At 10am on the fourth Sunday of the month new gardeners are invited to learn about starting their own plots; there’s even plans to expand the garden to add chicken coops and bee hives, so it can also provide locals with eggs and honey as well.

Find out more via its Facebook page.

St Helen's Community Garden, Glebe

On this 620-square-metre block next to the library and community centre on Glebe Point Road, locals use organic gardening methods to grow herbs and vegetables. With sustainability in mind, community gardeners minimise their environmental impact with tank water, reused and recycled organic material from composting and worm farming, mulch, and alternatives to chemicals and synthetic fertilisers.

Find out more via its website.

Sydney City Farm, Alexandria

The Sydney City Farm is a patch of agricultural and horticultural land in Sydney Park, with community events, workshops and a weekly farmers’ market. The farm’s community hub and cropping area, where seasonal produce is grown, officially opened last year, with the aim of connecting the city with the country and people with their food sources. The City Farm is all about learning, and it hosts everything from hands-on horticulture classes to sustainability talk series.

Find out more via its Facebook page.

Camperdown Commons, Camperdown

The home of Pocket City Farms, in the former Camperdown Bowling Club, is an inclusive community hub, with hireable spaces, produce for sale, a sustainability-focused eatery and an interactive kids’ play space.

“We coordinate various community, education and food activities on the farm and run volunteer sessions every week as a way for people to get involved and get really hands on and get experienced,” says Bowen. “We make those really educational, so quite often people come along, week after week or a couple of times a month or whenever they can, and they learn quite a lot about running an actual farm.”

Monthly “farm chats” panel discussions focus on a variety of topics, such as urban-farming basics, women who farm, fighting waste and more.

Find out more via its website.

At Home

The first place to get greening is in your own home, whether it’s with indoor plants or a windowsill herb garden. The Plant Life Balance project, a collaboration between Horticulture Innovation Australia and scientists from RMIT and Melbourne University, wants to teach Australians to harvest the big benefits even the smallest touches of green can provide.

Its research found just one plant can remove airborne toxins and improve air quality by 25 per cent, and creating a “look” in your space can boost overall wellbeing, including mood, concentration and productivity, significantly.

“Most people can be growing their own salad greens and herbs,” says Bowen. “They’re plants that are really easy to learn to grow, most can get away with not optimal sunshine … and can be grown in part shade.

“Just take a little step and do one thing at a time.”

As they say, from little things, big things grow.

Find tips on the greenery to suit your space via the Plant Life Balance app and website.

For the city’s latest, subscribe to the Broadsheet newsletter