True to its name, Gateway Yarra Valley sits right where the Melba and Maroondah Highways meet, which makes it a great first stop for visitors to the area, as well as locals looking for fresh, delicious food and coffee.
The 120-acre property features a hydroponic growing farm with pick-your-own opportunities for those heading into the valley for a picnic or wine visit. There is also a whole foods grocery on-site, and a café that serves and retails Market Lane’s Marimbus Espresso. We chatted to Gateway’s General Manager, Philip Stevenson, about the farm’s offerings and plans for the future, and, of course, his daily coffee ritual.
Market Lane Coffee: Tell us about Gateway Yarra Valley
Philip Stevenson: Gateway is a hydroponic growing farm, a providore and wholefoods store, and a café. Our fresh-picked produce is used in our meals and for sale in our grocery store. We also offer a you-pick strawberry, herb and salad bar experience with the produce ready to be taken home alive and fresh. Our salad bar offers the whole plant to take home at its fullest flavour and nutritional value. Set it aside and give it a little love and water to eat fresh when you’re ready.
Gateway isn’t your typical farm. What makes it special?
Our hydroponic farm grows a polyculture of crops. We’ve adopted sustainable practices to reduce our overall energy requirements. Some of our crop is grown vertically, which gives us the ability to produce more crop on less land. Recycling our water and nutrients also reduces our environmental impact and carbon footprint. We use beneficial insects to control our garden pests. This allows us to avoid the spraying of pest control agents.
Can you tell us a bit about your cafe offering? What ingredients are you using from the farm?
Every morning, Chef Kris can be seen picking herbs for the kitchen’s daily needs. We’re also lucky to be supplied with the morning’s first pick of the vegetables for use in the kitchen. Fresh is best and the result is fully flavoursome food from ‘picked ripe’ crop.
What’s your daily coffee ritual?
At 9.05am the workday starts with a Market Lane latte; it’s the second task after turning on the La Marzocco coffee machine. This is followed by our regulars also joining us for their special morning coffee.
What have been some of the most special moments with visitors at Gateway Yarra Valley?
We recently had the cast and crew of Mary Poppins and they, like so many groups, enjoyed the tour of the facilities (and a few dad jokes). They also picked up some fresh produce and locally made pickles, relishes and preserves. The happy faces we see from the kids returning from a strawberry pick are also priceless. The constant positive response to our sustainable project is very rewarding. People get it and want to be part of it.
What are Gateway Yarra Valley’s plans for the future?
Now that we’re successfully growing a diverse range of crops, we can extend our menu and open late on Thursday and Friday nights to offer ready-to-go meals and our wonderful wood-fired pizzas. With continuity of fresh produce, whole foods, and locally sourced products, we can consider offering some things online to an extended marketplace.