Marrickville Road isn’t typically associated with country life. And next door to a Mitre10, Urban Farmacy does seem a little out of place. Though this location makes its bountiful fresh produce all the more appealing.
Cath and Hapi Fiefa started Urban Farmacy to, “bring the essence of a farmers’ market to the high street, giving the local community the opportunity to shop when they can rather than always having to head out on a Sunday or Saturday morning,” says Cath.
The couple has a farm, Field to Feast, in Catherine Field, 51 kilometres from Marrickville. “Originally the plan was to just grow some things to feed us and the family. Within three months we had tomatoes and zucchinis by the truckload,” Cath says.
Besides selling to the public, the Fiefas' farm supplies cafes and restaurants around town such as About Life, Fratelli Paradiso and Icebergs. Cath’s mission with Urban Farmacy is to engage the general public in buying local, seasonal food with authentic service.
“The aspect of community that surrounds a market will enhance the high street. Too many businesses today don’t bother with friendly service, nor do they spend time chatting over purchases, or gossiping,” says Cath.
Besides gossip, she aims to, “educate consumers about the food they eat, where it comes from, assisting them in making choices that have an effect on our local economies.”
The majority of products sold at Urban Farmacy are Australian, labeled with the number of kilometers they have travelled – some less than one. Shelf items include Blue Mountains ginger honey and Bitton Gourmet passata. Homemade snacks such as organic almond and tofu rice paper rolls, or figs filled with Pepe Saya mascarpone, are displayed beneath the glass counter.
Though she’s always had an “earthy yearning”, farming did not come naturally to Cath. She spent most of her career in advertising, marketing and graphic design. Hapi, however, grew up in Tonga feeding the local villages and beyond through the farm he ran with his father before moving to Australia. “Hapi can grow anything and has a very instinctive bond with plants and the soil,” says Cath.
After suffering “two rather stupidly inconvenient injuries,” Cath can no longer work at the farm, instead working on the shop floor. “Thankfully my mouth wasn’t harmed,” she says. “I can still talk to customers!”
The Urban Farmacy
179 Marrickville Road, Marrickville
Wed to Mon: 9.30am–6pm