Meet the Team at Sprout Hub Aurora

Sprout Hub Aurora banner

The Aurora community has recently welcomed a new addition – the new café on the corner of Craigieburn Road and Edgars Road. The founder of Sprout Hub Aurora, Bridie Ritchie, started Sprout Ventures in Alkimos Beach in Western Australia in 2013. Here’s why she chose the Aurora community for the next Sprout project.

Who are the team at Sprout Hub Aurora?
In Aurora we have a local legend Sian as our Hub Host. Sian looks after the cafe and community activities. If a community member has an idea or questions, Sian is the go-to person.

Also on the Aurora team we have Ash and Mon who are our star baristas (they make a mean toastie too!). Both girls live nearby; Mon is studying law and enjoys having a part time job so close to home. Ash is passionate about dance and is keen to share this with the community through workshops – keep your eyes peeled for them coming up at the hub!

Who are the people who frequent Sprout Hub Aurora?
It’s interesting to watch the customers change over the course of a Sprout Hub project. Early on we have lots of people who pop in for a coffee to get a sense of the community. We also get a lot of the tradies in on weekdays for their extra large coffees.

As more and more residents move in we see locals wandering in for their weekend cuppa and to read the newspaper. We also have more visitors who pop in for the events or to meet with friends who live in the area.

Sprout is always popular with young families. We have toys, colouring in and a big playground just out the front. At the moment we are decorating our walls with pictures drawn from all the local little artists.

[Sprout Hub Aurora welcomes dogs too.] Our furry friends are a huge part of the community; we make sure we have water to quench their thirst and we are getting in some little treats so Rex doesn’t miss out when his owner sits down for a cup of coffee.

We also find we attract lots of visitors who are self-proclaimed “coffee snobs”! They hear about the quality of coffees we are pulling and travel from neighbouring communities to get it.

Does the café have free wifi?
There is free wifi at the hub. We welcome freelancers and those who work from home to use the internet throughout the day — we look at the space as an informal coworking space! Set up shop for the day to get out of the home office or just pop in and use it if your home internet is ever down.

Sprout Hub Aurora is more than just a café. It also offers a community space to share and rent and 10% of your proceeds are donated back to the local community. What is Sprout Hub Aurora’s purpose and philosophy?

Sprout Hubs bridge the gap between when residents first move in and when permanent community amenities are built. There always comes a time where we are no longer needed: shops open, clubs and groups can move into sports pavilions or community centres are built.

The important thing is that the early groundwork and web of social connections which the hub helped to facilitate remains a strong foundation of the community. These will serve to ensure the social sustainability of Sprout Hub Aurora long term.

Our work has always been centred around people’s connection to themselves, the places they inhabit and their wider communities.

Why did you choose the Aurora community for your second Sprout Ventures project?
Aurora is part of the new north and a massive growth area for Melbourne. There is already quite an active population in this first stage of Aurora and lots of those residents are eager to connect with the hub and get involved.

It really is special to be invited into a place where people are building their houses and their future lives; people will grow up here and the physical place will develop and evolve to be the home to so many personal memories and stories for each resident.

You get a sense of the pride people have after building their house and moving in and really, truly feeling a sense of belonging and communal identity. You see this in the smiles people send to their neighbours over coffees, the kids playing together after school, the events local residents organise and the emergence of locals who actively contribute and give back to their community.

59% of people who visited the Alkimos Beach project in the first year met someone new or made a new friend at the Sprout Hub!

Sprout Hub Aurora is a B Corporation. What does that mean and why is it important?
This is like the “Fair Trade” stamp for business. It means we put purpose and ethical business behaviours before our profits. It’s our way of trying to make “good business” the norm. If we can support local business and embody ethical practices, perhaps this will spread and become a good contagion across vast business networks. Local business also has a wonderful double impact, servicing communities as well as supporting locals with employment and reinvesting back into the local economy — of course Sprout Hubs want to support that!

We do this is lots of different ways. The Seedling Fund financially supports local leaders who have ideas for great thinking in their community with small grants and marketing exposure.

The hub space is provided to give early residents a space to run events, meet ups and meetings.

The online portal acts as an information hub for residents, promoting local happenings and events as well as local businesses and community groups.