Nov 302013
 

Join a vibrant food culture, growing and eating local

Covering all matters food in North East Melbourne

Whether you are a local food producer, want to eat local food, grow veggies in your garden or meet like-minded folks, Local Food Connect is for you!

Eltham Farmers’ Market, a Local Food Connect initiative, takes place every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.

Jul 252017
 

Helen Simpson interviews Bruce and Meredith Plain

Many of you will know Bruce or Meredith through their ownership of the Bulleen Art and Garden nursery, their involvement in Sustainable Gardening Australia, their organisation of the Eltham gardening group (Eltham POD), or their support for various community gardens. Helen has now interviewed Bruce and Meredith as home growers. Here is the first paragraph: “As I enter Bruce and Meredith’s large Eltham garden, I immediately realise that this is a place to spend at least a day, with Meredith’s fabulous ceramic sculptures at every turn and the largest urban veggie garden I have ever seen.Read the full interview.

Introducing Dana Thomson and her ‘nutrition bites’

I’m really pleased to announce that we have a new, regular contributor to the newsletter: each month, Dana Thomson will discuss a nutrition topic. Dana is a trained public health dietitian (accredited with the Dietitians Association of Australia). In contrast to clinical or community dietitians who mostly see patients/clients or run nutrition education groups, her objectives are to support access, affordability and acceptability of healthier food for the whole population. As a Health Promotion Officer at healthAbility in Eltham, she works as part of a team to improve food supply and promote healthier eating across Nillumbik.

Dana’s first contribution is on Health Star Ratings:

  • Health Star Ratings are a front-of-pack labelling system intended for processed foods only, not fresh wholefoods.
  • “Hopefully you don’t eat too much processed food. But many people do. Did you know that we spend almost 60% of our budgets on ‘discretionary foods’, which are typically heavily processed? These foods also make up 35% of our total food intake in terms of energy. The Health Star Ratings may help you choose healthier options.
  • “Products are assigned a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars.
  • “Currently, you can only compare within food categories. The calculations are different depending on the category you choose. For example, you can’t compare a dairy product rating with a breakfast cereal rating.
  • “The ratings are currently optional for food manufacturers to include on their labels. Many in the food industry are not opting in to this scheme if their products score poorly. However, you can download the Food Switch App (Android, iOS) and scan almost any product to obtain its rating.
  • “Use the ratings in conjunction with other food information like dietary guidelines, the ingredients list, and the nutrition information panel. If you would like to learn more, healthAbility also runs supermarket tours to help people make sense of food labels – the next session is on Monday, 7th August, 9.30-11am.
  • “The system is currently under a 5 year review and taking public submissions. If you would like help writing a submission, Email me (Dana).
  • “For more information: read the government website; watch this video; read this blog; or read this critique.”

What seeds to plant in August

Here is a list:

Asparagus Beetroot Capsicum Chilli
Coriander Eggplant Globe artichoke Leeks
Lettuce Mint Mustard greens Onion
Parsnip Potato Radish Rocket
Shallot Spring onions Thyme Tomato

 

As Spring begins to beckon, the list gets much longer. Note that the warm season veggies (capsicum, chilli, eggplant and tomato) can only be planted if under cover in seed trays. Also note that just about all the herbs and veggies in the August list can also be planted in September.

Mac’s tip of the week

Keep an eye on your peaches and nectarines for bud swell as you will soon need to spray to prevent curly leaf.” [Editor’s note: As Agriculture Victoria says, “Most effective control is achieved by spraying when the buds are swelling but before they have opened.” If you need help identifying bud swelling (as opposed to just buds), have a look at this video from Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens.

Here is what Gardening Australia says on the subject.

More on citrus gall wasps

Sally Davis writes in: “The cylinder traps that are available in Bunnings do not work unless the top of the cylinder is turned so that the hole is exposed. The instructions state this amongst a host of other text that nobody would read.

What’s a good use in the garden for ash?

Sarah Jones has a question for you: “What’s a good use in the garden for ash? I have 20 litres of it waiting to be put to use, with more to come over the cold months.Email me with your answers and I will collate them for Sarah.

How to cure olives – a reprise

At last Sunday’s Eltham Farmer’s Market, Maria Ciavarella demonstrated a variety of methods for curing olives. She has kindly provided her notes which are now on our website, separately for black olives and for green olives.

Local food producer news

Quists Coffee are participating in the annual CafeSmart fundraising initiative on 4th August to support local not-for-profit organisations and Australians in need. Each participating cafe donates $1 from every coffee sold on the day. Last year the initiative raised $160,000. I have managed to obtain a list of the 73 participating cafes from North East Melbourne. I wanted to put the list into this newsletter, partly because I think that the cafes merit some publicity for their participation, but I have, reluctantly, decided that it is too long a list. So, instead, I have put it onto our website. If you are going to have a coffee on 4th August, have a look at the list and see if one of the cafes is near you.

Australia’s first gluten-free restaurant … is in Ivanhoe!

It’s called Delhicious and you can read about it in The Heidelberg Leader.

Mapping out Australia’s food future

According to CSIRO’s Food and Agribusiness Roadmap, launched last week, new technologies could see us eating algae-based sources of protein, developing allergenic-free nuts plus tolerable varieties of lactose & gluten, and reducing environmental impact through edible packaging. Read more and download the report.

Get some quality music about food for free

Fay Loveland writes in: “Charlie McGee famously played at Eltham Farmers’ Market a few years ago. His band (Formidable Vegetable Sound System) is now taking a break and he is putting their music out to everyone for free (put 0.00 in the purchase price and you can download to your computer). Here is the link. The band has put out great songs about permaculture, growing food and re-thinking waste. One of my favourite songs is ‘Yield’ from the album ‘Permaculture: A Rhymers Manual’. The Yield video is good too.” Thanks, Fay!

How do they know?

Rachel Khoo recently said on Kitchen Notebook Melbourne on SBS that “the best croissant outside of Paris” are to be found at Lune Croissanterie in Fitzroy. Miguel Maestre recently said on The Living Room on Channel Ten that the best hamburgers in the whole of Australia are to be found at Easey’s in Collingwood.

Joke of the week

What kind of cheese do you use to disguise a small horse? Mascarpone.

More carved fruit

Thanks to Marina Bistrin, here is a video of carvings made from the pits of avocados.

New events

The Gateway Bug (film)

What: 2 billion people on earth eat insects for protein. The Gateway Bug explores how changing daily eating habits can feed humanity in an uncertain age, one meal at a time. It has been produced by Johanna Kelly, an Australian living in New York. We are privileged to have Johanna come to attend a Q&A session at the screening. Bring a plate to share and a cushion.
When: Friday, 28th July, 7.30-10pm.
Where: St Andrews Hall.
Cost: $5.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Food Evolution (film)

What: Agriculture Victoria Research presents an exclusive screening of Food Evolution. Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, one of the experts featured in the documentary, will be available on the night for networking and discussion. Directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Exploring the science and emotion surrounding biotechnology and food, the film features experts such as Mark Lynas, Alison Van Eenennaam, Jeffrey Smith, Andrew Kimbrell, Vandana Shiva, Robert Fraley, Marion Nestle and Bill Nye, as well as farmers and scientists from around the world. Read more.
When: Thursday, 3rd August, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Cinema Nova, Carlton.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Persian High Tea

What: Join them for Persian High Tea. Try authentic Persian treats and sweets. Drink from authentic tea glasses and taste some blended teas. Teas will be available to purchase on the day.
When: Friday, 4th August, 10am-midday.
Where: Preston.
Cost: $43.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Dine In Dine Out Food Fiesta

What: Camberwell’s annual food and wine festival. Will include laneway pop-up parks, live music, food tastings, in-store promotions, a market family day, roving entertainment and fun for the children.
When: Saturday, 5th August, 10am-3pm.
Where: Camberwell.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: their website.

Make your own beeswax wraps

What: You will learn how to make your own re-usable food wraps. This workshop will include all your materials to make 3 different sized beeswax wraps (8’x8′, 11’x11′ & 14’x14′). Plus you will take home the recipe and skills to be able to make them at home.
When: Saturday, 12th August, 11am-1pm.
Where: SEEDs Communal Garden, Brunswick.
Cost: $50.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Permaculture Design Course (17 sessions)

What: Upon successful completion of this 80 hour class, students will receive the International qualification of PDC Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC). Completing a PDC is the only way that you can teach, design and use permaculture in your business name anywhere in the world. Multiple tutors from Telopea Mountain Permaculture, including Pete the Permie, will cover such subjects as: zones; sectors; soils; water; passive solar; disaster resilience; how to select & design food production systems; selecting the right animals; and community. Skills development areas will include: soils; composting; grafting fruit trees; natural management of fruit and animals; and crop protection. Students will also visit Telopea Mountain Permaculture with its collection of 1,200 fruit trees plus some other different sized properties.
When: Tuesdays, starting 22nd August, 9am-4.30pm.
Where: Kinglake.
Cost: $495.
Bookings: Denise by phone (5786 1301) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Home composting and worm farming

What: One of the simplest ways you can help conserve the environment is by composting your food scraps and garden waste. By composting you will enrich your garden, help reduce waste going to landfill and save the cost of treating it as garbage. At this workshop, learn the art of successful home composting and worm farming and overcome common composting and worm farming problems.
When: Wednesday, 20th September, 7-8.30pm.
Where: Mill Park Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Whittlesea Council’s Environmental Education Officer, Sylvia Turk, by phone (9401 0509) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Growing veggies is easier than you think

What: What you will learn: the basics of growing your own fresh produce at home; how to prepare your garden for planting veggies; and how to choose the right produce for you and your family. What you will get: detailed course notes; and a punnet of lettuce seeds sown on the night. Presented by Maria Ciavarella who will show you how to turn your hand to the practice of gardening to eat. Experience the taste and freshness when you can pick something organic and easy-to-grow to eat from your very own garden.
When: Thursday, 21st September, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: / Further information: WeTeachMe.

DIY grafting and budding

What: What you will learn: why we graft or bud trees and bushes, and the principles behind grafting and budding techniques; how to select and store appropriate scion for grafting; and how to do a cleft graft and a whip-and-tongue graft. Presented by John Pinniger. Grafting and budding are cheap and fun ways to increase the number and range of plant varieties in your garden. Both grafting and budding are much easier than you would think, and can be attempted on a wide range of plants including fruit trees and ornamental shrubs. During this class you will learn a range of grafting and budding techniques and learn how to select and store the material. Please bring a grafting knife and secateurs if you have them (not essential).
When: Saturday, 23rd September, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Sourdough bread making workshop

What: Tutor Jenna Farrington-Sear. This workshop will cover basic theory as well as the tactile pleasure of all the steps of making bread from milled flour. Suitable for both novices and those who want to expand their bread making repertoire. Topics to be covered: the essential ingredients and tools of the trade; the principal steps of bread making; Baker’s percentage and hydration; mixing, kneading and folding dough; shaping loaves, scoring and baking; and maintaining a starter. You will take home: a piece of dough which can be baked at home; and a sourdough starter.
When: Saturday, 23rd September, 10am-1pm.
Where: Living & Learning Nillumbik at Panton Hill.
Cost: $59.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

View the calendars for specific Council areas: Banyule, Boroondara, City of Yarra, Darebin, Manningham, Maroondah, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whitehorse, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges.

Read some help on how to view the calendar selectively. For example, search for events in a given suburb or set of suburbs. Or search for events of a given type (such as markets).

Jul 192017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

Mac has now been providing a tip every week for almost a year now. I know from discussions that lots of people agree with me that his tips are interesting, timely and pertinent. Thanks, Mac! Anyhow, this means that some of Mac’s tips from a year ago are now relevant again and he and I have decided that we will selectively repeat some of them. This is the first such repetition.

The citrus gall wasp can start hatching in late Winter so now is a good time to prune off existing galls (i.e. those galls without holes) and consider hanging sticky traps. I wrap my traps in bird wire or mesh: the traps seem to attract all insects (and birds that eat them), which can unfortunately also stick in the traps, but the wire/mesh should keep many of them out. By contrast, gall wasps are only 2-3mm and so will still get through. An experiment worth trying until the end of November, when they can be removed.

Note that Leaf, Root & Fruit have just blogged about an alternative approach to treating citrus gall wasp, which involves both less pruning and less fertilising. Now there’s an attractive approach for lazybones such as myself!

Sustainable Gardening Australia also has an interesting article about citrus gall wasp. And Karen Sutherland has a 6 minute video.

Everything you wanted to know about worm farming but were afraid to ask

Felicity Gordon, from Watsonia Library Community Garden, has written some tips about using worm farms. For example: “Do not feed worms citrus, garlic, onion or chillis (all of which which make the farm too acidic and the worms don’t like them), or dairy or meat scraps (both of which can attract flies).” and “Do not over-feed the worms – add regular small amounts of food chopped into 1-2cm size pieces, in a layer 1-2cm deep, so that the worms can eat through this without there being too much that might turn into a slimy mess.Read the full article.

And the winner is …

The winner of our little competition from last week is Carol Woolcock. Here is her tip: “Dog owners have an ongoing dilemma of how to dispose of doggy do other than placing it in their council waste bin. I came across a Bokashi product called Ensopet starter. It is supposed to be used with an Ensopet composter (a plastic upturned bucket gizmo) which costs around $70. I achieved the same result by using a 30cm plastic pot with the base removed. I dug a hole about 30cm square and 40cm deep and placed the upturned pot, with the base removed, in it about level with the surrounding ground. Dog poo goes in it and is sprinkled with Ensopet starter. I cover the pot with a heavy stoneware dinner plate. The holes are dug on the uphill side near the drip line on my fruit trees. I have 4 holes at present and simply dig another when they are near full. The ingredients in Ensopet starter include “beneficial microorganisms, wheat, sawdust, zeolite, molasses”. It costs $13 for 1kg and has lasted me for around 6 months. So no dog faeces in my bin, no odour and the fruit trees get a boost.

As her prize, Carol has chosen to participate in the Sensational sourdough at home workshop.

Videos from Edible Forest Gardens nursery

John Ferris, newsletter reader and owner of Edible Forest Gardens nursery in Wonga Park, has started posting regular videos on his Facebook page. The videos are effectively mini growing guides and the subjects covered to date include: turmeric, canna lily, yacon and society garlic.

2017 Australian Food Awards

The Australian Food Awards are an annual, rolling set of awards where roughly half the awards for 2017 have now been made. Congratulations to the following winners from North East Melbourne:

Name Suburb Highest award Food group
Ardor Food Co Thomastown Gold Pasta
Aura Co. Mernda Bronze Ice cream
Billy van Creamy Fitzroy North Gold Gelato and Sorbet
Blue Pear Pantry North Warrandyte Silver Sausage roll
Chokamour Macleod Silver Chocolate
Cunliffe & Waters Croydon Bronze Jam and Sauce
Fritz Gelato Richmond Silver Gelato and Sorbet
Gelati Sky Brunswick Gold Gelato
JZ Business Enterprises Coburg North Bronze Snack
Marisa’s Kitchen Alphington Gold Soup and Dip
Montefiore Cheese Thomastown Silver Cheese
My Little Country Kitchen Kinglake West Silver Sausage roll
Okka Pies Bayswater Silver Quiche
Pantalica Cheese Company Thomastown Gold Cheese
Plough to Plate Fine Foods Thomastown Gold Preserve and Sauce
PoppySmack Warrandyte Bronze Sauce
Ranch Hand Foods Blackburn Gold Sauce
Select Harvests Thomastown Gold Almonds
St David Dairy Fitzroy Gold Milk and Butter
Sweet by Nature Heidelberg West Gold Cake
That’s Amore Cheese Thomastown Gold Cheese
We Feed You Hawthorn East Bronze Ready meal
Yarra Valley Dairy Coldstream Silver Cheese

 
Thanks to Deb Graham for the heads up.

Local food producer news

Kings of Kangaroo Ground’s recent medal wins in China made it into the July edition of The Warrandyte Diary.

The Asian sauces of PoppySmack, from Warrandyte, can now be purchased from McCoppins Clifton Hill.

Organic Empire, from Mt Evelyn, have blogged about how to store different fruit and veggies.

Joke of the week

Another contribution from Meg Montague: Why did the cucumber blush? Because it saw the salad dressing.

And, as a bonus: What did the mayonnaise say when someone opened the fridge door. Close the door, I’m dressing!

Read all of this year’s jokes.

Every newsletter needs a good picture

So, here’s one of a carved apple. More pictures of carved fruit can be found on the Colossal website

New events

Cooking master class

What: Menu – baked brie; green minestrone; and lemon meringue pie. Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included.
When: Monday, 24th July, 11am-1pm and again on Thursday, 27th July, 7-9pm.
Where: Gourmet Living, Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: / Further information: Eventbrite – 24th July and 27th July.

Cooking master class

What: Menu – spiced crispy chicken; Moroccan veg pot pie; and fig bread & butter pudding. Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included.
When: Friday, 4th August, 7-9pm.
Where: Gourmet Living, Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: / Further information: Eventbrite.

Herbs for digestive health

What: Are you confused about which herbs to use for digestive health, want some simple and effective ideas? Do you want to understand why some herbs may be more appropriate for you than others? Suffer from bloating, nausea, indigestion and fatigue? Libby Shaw, Naturopath, Herbalist & Nutritionist will run through some of her favorite herbs to help support digestive health, so you have a better understanding of their energetics, when they appropriate to use and when they are not. These are simple effective herbs, some can even be grown in your own garden. Libby will also share a few of her go to herbal recipes. Bookings are essential.
When: Saturday, 5th August, 3.30-4.30pm.
Where: Nature’s Harvest, Hurstbridge.
Cost: free.
Bookings: by phone (0407 338647).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Swipers Gully Restaurant guest chef Stephen Mercer

What: Swipers Gully Restaurant welcomes back the annual guest chef Stephen Mercer, of Mercer’s Restaurant, for an evening of delicious food matched to their Swipers Gully wines. Five courses. Bookings essential.
When: Thursday, 24th August, 6.30-10pm.
Where: Swipers Gully Restaurant, Kangaroo Ground.
Cost: $95.
Bookings: by phone (9437 2222).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Winter fruit tree maintenance

What: What you will learn: pruning – formative and maintenance of new and established fruit trees. Also, selection and planting of new fruit trees; Winter fruit tree maintenance practices for pest and disease prevention, control and treatment; and pruning tool maintenance. Presented by Angelo Eliades. The aim of this demonstration class is that you will leave it feeling confident to maintain your fruit trees. The preparation that is done in the colder months pays mighty dividends in the growing and harvesting seasons to come. Learn all of the pruning techniques and needs of individual fruit trees from apples and plums to persimmons and pomegranates. And hear about what not to do. Discover how to reduce and prevent pest and diseases that compromise your fruit production. Learn how to treat problems with different methods – organic/permaculture and conventional. They will also cover buying new fruit trees and will demonstrate how to clean and sharpen your pruning tools and other edged garden tools (spades etc). You have the option to bring one of your own pruning tools along and learn how to sharpen it.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Annual agribusiness dinner

What: It’s time again to gather the City of Whittlesea farming community together, celebrate a successful year and to bring in the busy Spring ahead. Enjoy an evening of local food and wine, conversation and music. Launched on the evening will be the City of Whittlesea’s Land Capability Assessment online maps, which will be a decision making tool for farmers, investors and policy makers. Dr. Rob Faggian from Deakin University will be presenting the maps and you will have the opportunity to try them out for yourselves. But the evening is mostly about music and celebration. James Blundell, Australian country music icon, will play while you share a cocktail party style dinner and drinks, with plenty of time to chat, mingle and maybe even have a dance.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 6-10.30pm.
Where: Growling Frog golf course, Yan Yean.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Wicking beds

What: Join Jeremy from VEG Wicking Beds to learn all about wicking beds – what are they, what do they look like, how to make them, and how to look after them.
When: Saturday, 2nd September, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Brunswick.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Vegan day out in Melbourne

What: Local cafes and businesses in Fitzroy will be slashing prices, giving away samples and putting special vegan products on the menu. Here is how it will works: a map of all the participating businesses will be created. Collect your map and vouchers from the Cruelty Free Shop. Then enjoy spending the weekend walking around redeeming the vouchers. At the Cruelty Free Shop, they will have storewide discounts on hundreds of items and special offers plus free food tastings all weekend long.
When: Saturday, 2nd September, 9am-6pm and Sunday, 3rd September, 10am-5pm.
Where: Fitzroy.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

How to grow the perfect tomato

What: What you will learn: how to raise tomatoes from seed, seed saving, soil preparation and pruning; how to cook and preserve the harvest; and how to choose the right tomato for the right purpose, from the many standard and heritage varieties. What you will get: a bowl of pasta with homemade sauce; a sample of heritage tomato seeds sown during the class; and detailed class notes. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. The class will go through the basics: choosing varieties for different purposes, growing from seed or seedling, soil preparation for the garden or in pots, watering, fertilising and then finally the eating, with some ideas on how to cope with the quantities you are bound to get! You will do some seed-raising as part of the class.
When: Thursday, 7th September, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Veggie gardening – beyond the basics

What: What you will learn: tips on growing specific herbs and vegetables; and growing from seed, crop rotation, soil pH. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. This class is for those who have already dabbled in some veggie growing but want a little bit more knowledge.
When: Thursday, 14th September, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Chinese cooking with Jenny Chua

What: Join Jenny Chua, from Cooking with Jenny in Melbourne, as she explores some favourite authentic Chinese cooking techniques. Learn how to make Chinese dumplings the authentic way. Includes tasting.
When: Saturday, 16th September, 10.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Nunawading Library.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Jul 122017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

It is a good time to consider spraying your deciduous fruiting plants and citrus with Pest Oil (or Neem oil) to give them a clean start in spring. This should clean up any scale or mites over-wintering on your trees. It is also good for citrus leaf miner, aphids, mealy bug and caterpillar eggs, to name a few.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

The latest newsletter from Leaf, Root & Fruit Gardening Services had a useful checklist for fruit tree related tasks for winter:

  • Pruning.
  • Planting bare-rooted fruit trees.
  • Setting up and maintaining espaliers.
  • Controlling citrus gall wasp.
  • Controlling curly leaf.

Everything you wanted to know about Bokashi bins but were afraid to ask

Paul Gale-Baker, from Sustainable Macleod, has written some tips about using Bokashi bins. As Paul says in his introduction: “It’s important to realise that a Bokashi bin doesn’t compost. Rather, the food is fermented using the Bokashi ‘bran’ that you sprinkle over each layer. This is wheat-based, containing a powerful microbial mix which ferments the food waste anaerobically. That means the bin can be completely sealed with the lid so no odour escapes.” There then follow 9 specific tips for when using Bokashi bins. Read the full article.

Paul’s notes were originally published in the Sustainable Macleod newsletter, which is one of our most substantive local newsletters. Whilst much of the material is specific to Macleod, it also contains more general articles such as Paul’s. Sign up here.

Local food producer news

I went to Rivers Cafe & Farm Shop earlier this week and, whilst there, took the opportunity to check which local food producers they are now stocking. By my count, it is up to an impressive 11: A Local Baker St Andrews, Apted’s Orchards, Australian Harvest / Bio Grape, Coldstream Brewery, Cunliffe & Waters, Organic Times, Rustic Sourdough Bakery, Top Hundred Acres, Under The Pickle Tree, Unforgettable Products, and Yarra Valley Tea Company. That puts them third in the shops’ league table.

Yummy Gardens currently have a lot of point-of-lay cross-bred chicken for sale at $30 each. Australorp x New Hampshire, New Hampshire x White Leghorn, New Hampshire x Rhode Island Red, and Australorp x Leghorn. Ring Greg on 0431 382230 to place your order and then go to his house in St Andrews to choose your chickens.

AVS Organic Foods’ products (Vegan cheese, etc) are now available at Local Fine Foods, Diamond Creek.

Caffe Strada’s gluten-free bread is now available at Pro-Health, Eltham.

Quists Coffee is now available at Hurstbridge Osteopathy.

Offaly Good Food will be at The Finders Keepers Market at The Royal Exhibition Building, 14th-16th July.

A new food swap at Diamond Creek

At Thrive Community Garden (31 Watkins Street). 3rd Saturday of the month, 2-3pm.

I now know where to get kefir grains

Thanks to Doris, Duang, Jon, Lax, Lucinda, Lynnsay, Marilyn and Stuart, all of whom replied to the question asking where Nicole could get kefir grains. Apart from offering her some grains for free, they also identified the following stockists:

It would be good if more people asked questions via the newsletter. And, as you can see, you will get answers. Just email me with any questions.

The peeing in the garden discussion continues

Marina Bistrin writes in: “Thanks for the urine article link – I enjoyed reading it and thought it brought up lots of interesting points. I use undiluted urine around my citrus tree’s drip line as much as possible and they are doing well (I have been doing it for 8 years, ever since I moved into my current home). I think if the soil were really dry, I’d water it in, but I don’t need to most of the time. Another benefit is that you don’t waste water by flushing that valuable substance down the toilet. ‘Humanure’ article next time? (not that I use it but I am interested). There is a man at the Sustainable Living Festival that has had a caravan there for at least 3 festivals, near the food area, and he collects it in wheelie bins below the toilet and keeps it for a year, and then it’s ok to use. This year he separated the wee out by putting a metal partition in the front part of toilet and asked the guys to sit to wee. Some people have composting toilets and I feel that’s a great water saving and use of valuable fertiliser resources.

‘Crowd harvest’ winter citrus

Winter brings a citrus bounty and many gardeners are overwhelmed with fruit. Why not take some of your excess down to your local food relief provider and help those facing food insecurity and homelessness. Up until 23rd July, you can drop your citrus fruit at any of The Alphington Community Centre, CERES, STREAT, or Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre (the Facebook event provides details of opening times). Any questions, contact Cath Lyons (aka Tiny Trowel) by phone (0401 814679) or email.

Transition groups in North East Melbourne

As part of their preparations for the Transition Towns Convergence on 29th July (see event description under ‘new events’), our friends at Transition Banyule have kindly sent us the following list of the Transition groups in North East Melbourne:

Suburb Group Email address
Collingwood Friends of the Earth foe@foe.org.au
Darebin Transition Darebin transitiondarebin@gmail.com
Fitzroy Fitzroy Urban Harvest peta@cultivatingcommunity.org.au
Fitzroy Yarra Climate Action Now (YCAN) info@ycan.org.au
Fitzroy North North Fitzroy Community Gardens Group rushallgarden@gmail.com
Greensborough Transition Greensborough sustainablegreensie@gmail.com
Heidelberg Transition Banyule info@transitionbanyule.org.au
Heidelberg Transition Warringal warringal@transitionbanyule.org.au
Heidelberg West Transition 3081 transition3081@gmail.com
Macleod Sustainable Macleod sustainablemacleod@gmail.com
Maroondah Transition Town Maroondah ttmaroondah@gmail.com
Montmorency Montmorency Community Group montymoves@gmail.com

 

Northern Multicultural Small Business Awards (NMSBA)

Facilitated by Whittlesea Council and others, these awards seek to celebrate the contributions of multicultural small business owners including: migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Food businesses are eligible if they are from Banyule, City of Yarra, Darebin, Moreland, Nillumbik or Whittlesea. Also, the owner has to either have been born overseas or their parents were born overseas. For more details, or to nominate, go to their website. Nominations close this Friday (14th July) – sorry for the short notice.

Want a job as a Food System Officer?

Moreland Council has a vacancy for a part time Food System Officer. Applications close 27th July. Read the job description and apply.

Urban agriculture survey

A University of Melbourne project which aims to look at urban agriculture in the context of its role in cities and in food supply resilience, both now and into a climate change affected future. Your garden doesn’t need to be amazing to participate – they are interested in all food gardens, of all sizes. Read more and then take the survey.

Joke of the week

As featured on The Project on Channel 10 last week: Did you hear about the explosion at the cheese factory? There was de brie everywhere!

Read all of this year’s jokes.

Corrections and clarifications

Last week, I stuffed up with the descriptions of the three forthcoming workshops in Maria Ciaverella’s ‘absolute beginner’ series. The three events, with their correct descriptions, are provided below. By way of apology, I am offering a prize of free attendance at one of Maria’s upcoming courses to the person who emails me the best fruit or veggie growing tip for inclusion in a future newsletter. You choose which of Maria’s courses you want to go to (see www.mygreengarden.com.au/book-now). Closing date: Sunday, 16th July.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – your patch from scratch

What: What you will learn: plant basics – what they need to grow well; setting up a vegie patch in different situations – pots and plots, including no-dig layer beds; and sun, siting, soil issues. What you will get: personalised information on the best way for you to set up a patch in your garden. You will cover the basics for success from the start: soil improvement, siting your veggie patch, sunshine needed, plant nutrition needs. Starting no-dig gardens vs traditional veggie patches are demonstrated. Planting in pots for difficult situations and good soil media. This is the first of three related workshops and, ideally, you would attend all three.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – seasonal vegetables

What: What you will learn: understanding seasonal nature of growing vegetables; success with growing vegetables from seed and seed saving techniques; and introducing less common vegetables and how to grow them. What you will get: a seed raising box planted out on the day with seasonal vegetables. Knowing what to plant when gets you on the pathway to success and you can count yourself as a real gardener when you don’t need to rely on buying seedlings for your patch. Starting from seed is a bit art and a lot science so you will look at different techniques for success and then how to save and store the seed at the other end to continue the cycle from year to year. This is the second of three related workshops and, ideally, you would attend all three.
When: Saturday, 9th September, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – soil and pests

What: What you will learn: how to keep your soil biologically active using composts and other natural additives; how to set up a composting system, a worm farm and a bokashi bucket for promoting soil fertility; and pest control the natural way. What you will get: barrier controls and lures to keep pests away from seedlings; and ‘ingredients’ for compost making. Part 1: improving soil fertility. Good soil is teeming with all manner of microorganisms and keeping them active leads to healthier and more productive plants, also able to withstand garden pests and diseases. This session will show you how easy it is to keep your soil healthy by making compost, keeping a worm farm or a Bokashi bucket. See all methods at work in the garden and learn how to set them up for yourself. You will look at using the product of these organic waste recyclers in your veggie patch. Part 2: keeping pesky pests at bay. Pests are a natural part of your garden’s ecosystem but spraying harmful chemicals is not and can lead to more problems than the ones you were targeting. You will look at more sensitive ways of tackling garden pests and enlisting the help of nature to do so. This is the third of three related workshops and, ideally, you would attend all three.
When: Saturday, 23rd September, 10am-1pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

New events

Fruit tree pruning

What: They will be pruning the 2nd year trees in the orchard of Macleod Organic Community Garden.
When: Saturday, 22nd July, 2-4pm.
Where: Macleod Community Garden.
Cost: $15.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Introduction to permaculture (two day)

What: A two-day workshop. Developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, permaculture (permanent agriculture) is a whole system approach to ecological planning and design for sustainable living. This workshop, spread over two weekends, will be beneficial to both those new to the concept of permaculture and for those thinking of undertaking a permaculture design course. You will be introduced to permaculture and gain a basic understanding of the principles and design methods associated with permaculture.
When: Saturday, 22nd July and Saturday, 29th July, both 10am-4pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $120 for the two days.
Bookings: Trybooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Fruit tree pruning and maintenance

What: Merrin Layden is a horticulturalist who has spent the past 5 years working at The Orchard Project in London teaching urban fruit tree skills. The skills that you will learn from Merrin will be put to use on the day in the farm’s orchard.
When: Sunday, 23rd July, 10am-3pm.
Where: Bundoora Park Farm.
Cost: $64 (includes entrance to the farm).
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Transition Convergence 2017 – share and inspire

What: This is an opportunity for Transition Town members to reconnect and share stories, news, ideas and plans. It is also ideal for people wanting to start a Transition group or find a group to join. The day’s program will include sessions on: sharing our celebrations and challenges – including posters and short presentations; discussing issues of interest or concern; and briefing on Transition Hub Australia and the 2017 Transition Communities National Summit. Please take: pictures, maps, stories, from your Transition group for display; news, questions, ideas – what’s worked, what hasn’t, what to celebrate and build on; $10 donation towards cost of venue; and food to share for a potluck lunch.
When: Saturday, 29th July, 9.30am-4.30pm.
Where: Docklands.
Cost: $10 donation towards cost of venue.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Preparing your spring garden

What: Diana Cotter has been designing and introducing people to the benefits and delights of gardening for over 30 years. Here is an opportunity to find out which vegetables and flowers to plant in your spring garden, so your garden not only provides good things to eat, but looks great too.
When: Monday, 14th August, 2-3pm.
Where: Fawkner Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Rainwater tanks and smart backyard irrigation

What: This workshop will provide information on what to think about when planning to install a new tank and irrigation system. Go along and receive expert advice and helpful hints on making the best use of your water to help make your garden bloom.
When: Tuesday, 29th August, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Kew Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Bush tucker

What: Uncle Ian Hunter will be sharing his knowledge on the indigenous food found in the City of Whittlesea. Find out if you have some of these plants growing in your garden and learn about Wurundjeri history.
When: Friday, 8th September, 11am-midday.
Where: Whittlesea Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Indian cooking – Southern region (two sessions)

What: Tutor Taariq Hassan. Learn how to cook a healthy North West Indian vegetarian meal from scratch using authentic ingredients. Menu: sambhar (spiced lentil soup with tamarind and vegetables); iddli (steamed savoury rice /lentil flour cakes); fresh coconut chutney; tamarind rice with peanuts and curry leaves; dry roasted papadums; plain yoghurt; and milk-based dessert.
When: Monday, 11th September and Monday, 18th September, both 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Hurstbridge Hub.
Cost: $92.
Bookings: Living and Learning website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month
Jul 052017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

With the frosty mornings of the last week, you are likely to have a few blackened leaves and tips on your plants due to frost burn. As tempting as it may be to prune off and tidy your plants, it is best to leave the damage there to protect the lower growth from more frosts yet to come. Wait until after the last frost to remove. Until next time, remember: dirty hands are numb hands.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

A maker of bread alternatives and snack foods: Raw 4 The People

Raw 4 The People, from Bayswater North, make (dehydrated) bread alternatives and snack foods, catering for the health conscious, vegetarian, vegan, and people with intolerances. All products are processed under 42 degrees in temperature, gluten free, and use local sources where possible. Particular products include: raw tomato wraps (pictured right); mushroom jerky; raw chia seed crackers; raw sunflower seed bread; raw carrot and coconut crackers; and raw banana pancakes. You can buy their products either online or at: Apples and Sage Organic Wholefoods, Balwyn; Go Vita stores; Great Earth Health Stores; Jefferies Family Supermarket, Croydon; Leo’s Fine Food & Wine supermarkets; Terra Madre, Northcote; or Tone & Trim Zone, Ringwood East. Read their Local Food Directory entry. Welcome Clinton!

Local food producers in the news

The FareShare kitchen garden featured on Landline on ABC on 2nd July, mainly discussing their growing of sweet potatoes. The episode is available on iview until 1st August – the relevant part of the programme starts at 34:18 and goes on 17 minutes.

I can personally confirm that sweet potatoes can be successfully grown in Melbourne. Plant in October or November and harvest when the vines die back in, say, March or April.

Local food producer news

Blue Pear Pantry’s ready made meals are now available from Switchback Cellars, Chirnside Park.

If you are a local food producer and you have some news, just email it to me.

The Eltham planter boxes have gone to good homes

Bev Robertson would like to give a huge thank you to Kaye Saunders, Nada Cunningham and Vicki Jordan who, between them, have recycled all the components.

More about peeing in your garden

The link to the article about peeing in your garden in last week’s newsletter turned out to be one of those popular but controversial links.

In terms of popularity, it was clicked by 10(!) times as many newsletter readers as my article on buying Certified Organic food.

In terms of controversy, it received a critique from Stuart Rodda about its inaccuracies:

  • Urine is not a rich source of uric acid, but urea. Bird droppings are full of uric acid, which is what makes them white. If we have too much uric acid in our bodies, we get gout, due to uric acid crystals in the joints.
  • “Urine is not ‘acidic’ as quoted in that article. Indeed, if it stands too long then it becomes alkaline because urea breaks down to ammonia and CO2 (e.g. the ammonia smell of baby nappies left on too long).
  • “The Romans knew about this and used stale urine for washing clothes because alkalis are good at removing stains (which is why we use ammonia, or sodium carbonate / washing soda). I’m not sure if stale urine is a weedkiller, maybe worth testing.

Stuart has also commented on the little vignette about urea from my article on organic certification from two week’s ago. “Synthetic urea is supplied as a ‘pure’ solid whereas urea from urine is a dilute solution along with other organic nutrients, minerals etc. Applying solid urea to soil is thus quite different from watering in urine or diluted urine in its effects on soil life, soil structure, and plants. In theory, synthetic urea could be diluted to the same weak levels as in urine (e.g. 1%) or even lower. However, it can be contaminated with byproducts of manufacture such as biuret, which is toxic to plants by foliar application. So, if you have a choice, it is probably better to avoid sourcing your nitrogen from synthetically manufactured urea. Nitrogen can also be sourced from decomposing organic matter (usually compost or recycled organic material such as blood and bone), or made on site by nitrogen-fixing plants, or from worm juice etc.

Finally, Susan Palmer has told me that she has personally never done any testing of the techniques discussed in the article. I’m sorry that I gave the wrong impression and retract my words unreservedly. #FakeNews

Know where to get kefir grains?

Nicole Johnston has written in to ask whether anyone knows where she can find some kefir grains. Email me and I’ll pass your email onto Nicole.

Want a job as a Landcare Facilitator?

Whittlesea Council is looking for someone to help reinvigorate Landcare in the municipality. Applications close 16th July. Read the job description and apply.

Want to learn about permaculture?

Download Permaculture – A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison. 600 pages!

The van Gogh exhibition ends next week

Just a reminder that the van Gogh exhibition at the NGV ends on 12th July. Inter alia, he is the only(?) prominent painter ever to have painted potatoes.

Have you started to preserve your olives yet?

From Mrs Louca via Maria Ciaverella: a fast way to preserve your olives.

Joke of the week

From Callum via the Herald Sun and Chris Kent: How many eggs are there in a French omelette? Just one, because one egg is un oeuf.

Read all of this year’s jokes.

New events

Paleo Pure & Bod Kombucha shout brunch

What: One Saturday every month, Pure & Bod Kombucha opens its doors to the public and puts on a free brunch for those who wish to come and try their range. You’ll be able to feast on organic breaky bowls from Paleo Pure, made with their hand made grain free granola, fresh fruit & coconut yoghurt as well as Bod Kombucha to wash it down. There’s no need to stay the entire time; rather, pop in for a chat, take a seat, and leave when you want.
When: Saturday, 8th July, 10am-1pm.
Where: Fairfield.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Seasonal cooking: leczo (Polish marrow stew)

What: Leczo is a Polish dish which combines Polish sausage with marrow (cukinia, over-grown zuchini!). Iwona will walk you through how to make this dish and finish with a sample of the dish.
When: Saturday, 8th July, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Joe’s Market Garden, Coburg.
Cost: by donation, $5-10 suggested.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Mushroom talk

What: It is the season for mushroom foraging, so they have Robin Hallett, a mushroom enthusiast to speak about them. Though he is enthusiastic about foraging for mushrooms, he is quite aware of how difficult it can be to identify edible fungi with certainty. So he will share with you some simple ways of growing mushrooms at home. Robin will also discuss his experiments using cardboard, barley, straw and coffee grounds to produce mushrooms. And the great thing about growing mushrooms this way is that you don’t even need to have a garden. The talk will follow the Warranwood Food Swap, which will start at 10am.
When: Sunday, 16th July, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Warranwood Primary School.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Family recipes from Malta

What: Sharon Spiteri will prepare Maltese dishes for you to sample while she discusses her book Traditional Sweet Recipes from Malta. Books will be available for purchase at the event.
When: Thursday, 17th August, 6.30-8pm.
Where: Lalor Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

The garden farmacy with Lisa Hodge

What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. What you will get: a remedy and a seedling. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally.
When: Saturday, 2nd September, 2-4.30pm.
Where: CERES.
Cost: $70.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – your patch from scratch

What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. What you will get: a remedy and a seedling. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – seasonal vegetables

What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. What you will get: a remedy and a seedling. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally.
When: Saturday, 9th September, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – soil and pests

What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. What you will get: a remedy and a seedling. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally.
When: Saturday, 23rd September, 10am-1pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Vegan vegout

What: The food trucks offering vegan food usually include: Bomba Wood Fired Pizza; Lady Rawsome; Pierogi Pierogi; Taitas falafels; The Kind BBQ Co.; The Real Jerk Food Truck; and Yay!
When: the 1st Wednesday of every month, 5-10pm.
Where: Welcome To Thornbury .
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.