Anna Ainsworth: A unique business model and philosophy

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Anna Ainsworth

Anna Ainsworth and husband Simon opened their award winning flagship Eden Gardens in 2004 with a unique business model based on a genuine commitment to both social and environmental causes with a mission to improve the quality of life in the wider community through horticulture and education.

Working with not for profits
Anna and Simon set up the business with a determined goal of working with not for profits, who would align to their business model and  philosophy. Among other charities, Eden Gardens has been working closely with Fr Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets, an organisation that gives youth  in crisis a chance to recover by providing them with the opportunity to gain skills and confidence to make a change in their own lives.

In her work with Youth Off the Streets Anna could see both a challenge and an opportunity: “We could see that these youth  got to the end of their education  with Youth Off the Streets, and still had the challenge of finding employment. So we supported a program of after care and we provided in our business model an opportunity for work experience and  traineeships for these young people and set up a this employment program as a template for other businesses”. 

Through Sydney Leadership Anna learnt the importance and ability to question and listen to what’s required for others to take on the business model and create social change.

“The template we set up worked very well for Eden Gardens but in order to create a bigger social impact with this sort of model we would have to look deeper, to question and find out what challenges other organisations are facing. We would have to be non-judgemental about how they are delivering the business model”.

The Sydney Leadership program taught Anna how to explore adaptive ways of working with people from different backgrounds and with a different perspective.

“While we all might have the greater good in mind and wanting to make Australia better, our perspectives can be very different. Working out adaptive and non-judgemental ways of working together and moving forward is very important”.

Anna says that a great learning experience from Sydney Leadership is that it’s important to realise you have so much to offer, to own your power, feel comfortable about it and use it well. And to create opportunities for that to happen for others.

Referring to her work with Youth Off the Streets she says; “For a young persons sustainability they cannot depend  on people like me for their life, because I will move on and they will move on. We  have to give them the skills to work with other people right across their lives. That’s sustainability”.

Creating opportunities for social change
Anna also works with and financially supports  Youth Community Greening program through the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and Family and Community Services. The program assists disadvantaged preschools, schools, migrant youth groups, Youth off the Streets, Juvenile Detention Centres, and other similar targeted groups of young people through helping  to create productive school and community gardens and green landscapes. 

Anna says; “It’s very satisfying to see that the programs are providing a social change out there. I have helped  create the opportunity for that to happen”.

“I see the opportunity for social leadership across all people, not just the leaders who have done different courses but that essence of belief in the good in the community and how we can move the community forward. Participating in a course like Sydney Leadership gives you the skills to act in that community and to share those skills amongst other people who are potential leaders”.

For more information about Eden Gardens and the charities and community alliances they support please visit :

For more information about Youth Off the Streets visit :

For more information about Youth Community Greening visit :

Find out more about Sydney Leadership.