Pop-up Carport Cafe – cultivating community conversation & conservation through youth social enterprise

All afternoon people from around our ecovillage community and beyond were dropping by our carport to visit Maia’s new monthly pop-up cafe – The Owl’s Den. They came to play, to chat, to eat, and to pick up home some healthy treats after work. It was a super eco-cafe too: solar powered and waste free, and serving organic and local food and drink.

Today was the grand opening of The Owl’s Den Cafe in our carport – a monthly pop-up cafe run by our 9yo daughter as a homeschool project.
She’ll need to bake more of these orange-poppy seed cakes next time! 

Creating opportunities for community connection, building relationships with neighbours, creating a fun space for local kids, sharing healthy food, supporting endangered animals, raising money for a local children’s tree planting project, raising money for her own use, and learning many valuable skills were the reasons my 9 year old daughter has spend the past few weeks organising this pop-up carport cafe as one of her homeschooling projects. I am so proud of her – she was just amazing.

A relaxed environment for community conversations and play.

She thought of spaces and activities for little kids, big kids and adults. 

Flowers from the garden in up-cycled decorated jars, collections of sewing project fabrics as table cloths and wall hangings. 

Getting the driveway chess set up.

As long as I can remember, Maia has been wanting to run a cafe. She sets up stalls at the Nature Kids workshops I lead, offering some healthy snacks, but today was different. Today she organised everything – the idea, the plan, the budget, the menu, the shopping list, the cafe layout, the communication and marketing strategy, the conservation projects she wanted to support.

This was a homeschool project for Maia. This cafe gave her an opportunity to explore so many topics in an integrated way – doing something that she loves.

Helpful Hugh was delighted to assist – by being chief biscuit maker, provider of finance for the float, cake taste-tester (!?!),  selector of toys for little people, and carrier of boxes to the carport.

The menu:

  • Fair trade organic espresso coffee
  • Fair trade organic tea
  • Lemon myrtle and chocolate mint tea (from the garden)
  • Locally made lemon and lime iced cordial (thanks Lizzie!)
Fresh lemon myrtle leaves for the garden tea.
  • Orange poppy seed cake – sugar free (except for the icing) – organic flour, organic coconut oil, local eggs, local honey, local orange, organic ground sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, local lime icing
  • Chocolate mini muffins – sugar free (except for the icing) – organic flour, organic coconut oil, organic ground sunflower seeds, coconut, local eggs, local honey, cacao, local lime icing
  • Bliss balls – dates, organic sunflower seeds, organic tahini, organic coconut, cacao, local honey, cinnamon
  • Sunflower shortbread biscuits – organic flour, organic ground sunflower seeds, coconut, organic sugar, butter, honey, cinnamon, ginger

There was nothing but biodegradable waste produced at the cafe, and only a tiny bit of that – some coffee grounds and some cupcake papers – all in the worm farm now.

The source of power for the coffee machine and kettle (and the cooking) was solar power. She even sent up a little solar fountain.

The solar-powered mini-fountain was a lovely cooling off point for the kids.
Monty spent most of the time cooling off with his head in the little fountain

Community Conversations

It was just so absolutely lovely sitting in our garden on a barmy afternoon, cooling off a little with the easterly sea breezes  – chatting with old and new members of the community, watching the kids play, admiring Maia’s capability and determination. She created a beautiful and peaceful space for people to just relax and connect.

The environmental projects supported by the Owl’s Den Cafe:

Fundraising for the local tree-planting and supporting a critically endangered species. Maia had prepared information sheets for these too which she emailed to everyone, and had just a few copies on hand today. The preserves were donated to us to help raise funds.

Children’s Tree Plant: 

Maia has been involved in planning a children’s tree-planting to create a shaded walkway between the Crystal Waters village green park and the Mary River swimming hole. The planting happens in just over a week. The trees have been donated, the mulch is being collected locally too, but we need to buy the tree guards and stakes to protect the plants from deer and kangaroo.

At Maia’s cafe today she invited people to sponsor a tree. She had lots of great response and will continue to fundraise for the trees over the next week.

Critically Endangered Species: 

I cannot remember a time when Maia was not passionate about protecting wildlife, particularly critically endangered and vulnerable species. As a 4yo, she taught herself how to research online to find out more information. Today she chose to raise money to adopt a Lynx through WWF – she chose the Lynx because it is one of the most critically endangered species on the planet.

She has already repaid me for buying ingredients, paid back Hugh for the float, gone online to adopt the lynx and has put aside the remaining money to be able to seed her next cafe. Her budgeting was spot-on.


Being a good leader and communicator, building community, caring for the environment, starting a social enterprise and learning about ethical entrepreneurship are such valuable skills for young people have – for them to be resilient and adaptive in a changing environment. With these skills, I hope that wherever my children find themselves – that they will be able to cultivate a sustainable livelihood, through sharing and connecting, creating and giving.

6 Responses

  1. Jilly
    Jilly at |

    Congratulations Maia. A wonderful concept, well
    done. Thankyou Morag for a great Blog. I'm so
    grateful Rhonda Hetzel introduced Down to Earth blog readers to your site. Amazing info' you share with us. Many thanks for sharing all
    your knowledge.

  2. Meg Hopeful
    Meg Hopeful at |

    All this wonderful learning, and achievement, and no sign of a classroom's four walls in sight. Hooray for Maia…I can see why you are so proud of her!

  3. Australian Gardening Granny
    Australian Gardening Granny at |

    That is so impressive. I have enjoyed reading about The Owl's Den pop-up cafe and how Maia has used all of her skills to make it a success.

    Well done Maia.

  4. Fiona Chain
    Fiona Chain at |

    How fantastic, what great life skills Maia is learning at such a young age and it's so wonderful to see support from her siblings! Have a wonderful weekend,

  5. Deniz Postacı
    Deniz Postacı at |

    Great job! Keep on doing!

  6. Unknown
    Unknown at |

    I WAS THERE!….at the world's first Owl's Den Cafe….sipping,tasting,chatting,sun-baking….thank's so much,Maia and Family….loverly