Vertical gardens fully obscure the home of eco garden entrepreneur Joost Bakker like a mossy overgrowth. The eco entrepreneur, a high school dropout and florist by trade, also designs zero-waste restaurants, composting toilets, freestanding vertical green walls, and houses built from straw for a laundry list of clients.
His 6,500 square foot home in Monbulk, Australia, occupies a six-acre former cherry orchard, and is covered with a steel mesh normally used to reinforce concrete. This metal scaffolding holds 11,000 terra cotta pots of strawberries and shields the home from harsh hilltop sunlight.
Beneath the mesh screen, the inner walls are insulated with straw bales behind a facade of corrugated, galvanized iron. “Our house stays beautifully warm in winter and cool in summer,” Bakker, who has parlayed the pet peeve of waste-producing industry into a career, told Gardenista.
“Most people don’t realize that straw is the world’s most abundant waste product with over 1 billion farmers producing it. It’s basically the stalk that’s left over after the heads of rice, wheat, barley, and other grains are harvested.”
The Netherlands native harvests rainwater to wash dishes, mills his own oats, and folds others’ organic rejects into his own compost pile. The DIY home itself exemplifies the “reduce, reuse, recycle” ethos, built on a recycled concrete slab foundation and sporting walls sided with 150-year-old wood planks once used in the Woolloomooloo wharves in Sydney.
Repurposed waste materials prevail indoors, too, with industrial-felt curtains shielding the windows, training-wire ceiling lamps, and unpolished plywood floors. On the driveway sits a spherical sculpture by the enterprising Bakker: a white ball of yarn bedecked with white butterflies.
After turning restaurateur, carcasses have become the serial entrepreneur’s latest preoccupation. Last July Bakker opened Brothl, a high-end soup canteen where otherwise discarded though nevertheless reusable beef bones, seafood shells and chicken frames form the base of Bakker’s pungent, nutrient-dense soups.
Bakker’s businesses enjoy the same cross-fertilization and managerial economies of a conglomerate: He trades the flowers he grows in his garden for bones to make soup at his restaurant, using the leftovers to feed his garden, which in turn supplies his restaurant.