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 just want to meet like-minded folks, Local Food Connect is for you.

Eltham Farmers’ Market, a Local Food Connect initiative, is held every Sunday.

Jan 172018
 

Mac’s tip of the week

With another burst of extreme heat on its way, it’s time to drag out your old sheets (or shade cloth if you have it) to protect your crops as well as you can. Even with mulch, and a good water in the morning, most produce plants run the risk of sunburn and obvious wilting when it gets to around 40°C. Ideally a tent type cover is best, rather than just laying over the foliage. So, some tall stakes, some twine, and a few pegs can make all the difference.

And Robin Gale-Baker (in the latest Sustainable Macleod newsletter) provides some complementary advice: “With more very high temperatures in the near future, it is important to understand the purpose of watering. The purpose is to hydrate plants before the hot weather hits. This means deep watering in the week before the day the temperature soars. Deep watering means watering onto the earth around the roots of the plants or under the drip line of fruit trees.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

More free gifts for newsletter readers: PIP magazine again

The winners of last week's random draw were Judith Chivers (for the year's free subscription) plus Niloo Barmanray and Pat Deveny (for the free hard copies of Issue #9).

30 people entered the draw for the the PIP magazine subscription and obviously most of them were disappointed. In reaction, we have decided to offer another year’s free subscription this week. Here is how it is going to work: if you entered last week and didn’t win the free subscription, you are automatically entered for this week; if you didn’t enter last week and want to enter this week, simply email us some time today (Wednesday) with the word ‘PIP’ or equivalent.

And some discounts for newsletter readers: Maria Ciavarella’s workshops

Maria and I have been talking and I am delighted to say that newsletter readers can now get a $10 discount on any of the following workshops (all based in Donvale). Simply use the coupon ‘MGG’ when booking.

Bees, bees, bees

Stuart Rodda has written in: “I have just harvested around 9Kg of beautiful clean sweet honey from just 4 of the 6 frames in the Flow Hive (see picture right). I have had my Flow Hive (the Aussie invention) for nearly 2 years now but it took a while to get the bees organised to make honey for me. Like they claim, the harvesting could not have been easier and did not disturb the bees at all. While it was an expensive item, I would not have bothered to try to harvest honey without this hive add-on – I have had a hive for 20 years and not previously obtained honey from it.

Frankie Spranger, from Bee Rescue, has two extractors for sale: 29 frame, steel, $2,200; and 8 frame, gal, $850. Good condition and good working order. Contact Frankie by phone (0408 336363) or email.

Dana Thomson has written in to say that Moonee Valley Council has started hosting beehives on its buildings as part of their commitment “to re-home swarms found on Council land wherever possible“.

Melbourne Roof Top Honey have hives in 36 locations in Melbourne, around half in North East Melbourne and the other half in the centre of Melbourne.

There are 6 providers of honey in the Local Food Directory.

Remember, bee puns are good for your health: they give you a dose of Vitamin Bee.

The Yarra Valley Tea Company

The Yarra Valley Tea Company, from Coldstream, are now in the Local Food Directory: read their entry. They specialise in Certified Organic loose leaf teas and tisanes (herbal beverages). Their range is comprehensive, including black (e.g. Earl Grey, English Breakfast), green, herbal (e.g. chamomile, lemongrass), chai, and functional blends. You can buy their tea at numerous shops across North East Melbourne – see their Local Food Directory entry for the list. They invite you to visit them at their factory in Coldstream. Welcome Meaghan!

The local shops selling local products

We have just reached a landmark: the number of local (‘local’ here means ‘North East Melbourne’) shops that we know stock products from at least one local food producer now exceeds 300! Click here to see the full list organised by the number of local food producers that they stock.

Incredible Edible Eltham – a lovely story told by Duang Tengtrirat

Duang is one of the people who spend time looking after the Incredible Edible Eltham planter boxes at Eltham railway station. After a recent visit, she posted the following in the Incredible Edible Eltham Facebook group:

Today a lovely boy walked up to the planter box at the Eltham station and found one fully ripe strawberry. “May I have it please?” he asked, and popped it in his mouth. “Ohhh that was so YUM, so SWEET, the BEST ever”, he said. “Thank you strawberry plant. I will come back again.” And off he went to board the train heading to Flinders Street Station.

Another lady with a sketching pad and a pen in hand placed her pad on the edge of the box and started to draw. After 15 minutes, she showed me a lifelike drawing of nasturtiums complete with flowers. Then off with a broad smile she went boarding the train heading towards Hurstbridge.

Such is a gifted pleasure the planter boxes afforded my visit to water the veggies earlier today.

Whittlesea Community Festival – a chance to showcase your produce

Whether it’s cheese making, fruit growing, bread making, wine producing or any other food, Whittlesea Council are offering you the opportunity to showcase and sell your produce at their Community Festival on 18th March. “If you’re even slightly interested“, contact Tanaya Preece by phone (9217 2278) or email.

Job opportunity at 3000acres

3000acres finding land suitable for growing food and offer its use to the community. They are currently looking for a part-time (2 days per week) project manager. Click here to read more and to apply. Closing date 24th January.

Are you a student studying either an agriculture-related degree or financial services?

AgriFutures (formerly the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation) are offering scholarships. Click here to read about the opportunities and to apply. Closing date 23rd February.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Interview with Lynn-eva Bottomley of Organic Fix.

Joke of the week

Did you hear about the guy who invented Lifesavers? They say he made a mint.

As a bonus, the picture has been submitted by Jenny Shaw.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Summer gardening

What: Join Matthew Odgers from the Links Community Group as he helps you get your hands dirty and build your own bee/insect hotel. Do your bit to support native wildlife, increase your crop yield and reduce pest damage.
When: Saturday, 20th January, 11am-midday.
Where: Lalor Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Vegetarian and vegan food truck event

What: Showcasing the best in meat-free and plant-based street food.
When: Friday, 2nd February, 5-10pm; Saturday, 3rd February, midday-10pm; and Sunday, 4th February, midday-9pm.
Where: Preston Food Truck Park.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: Facebook.

Nillumbik Garden Club: summer vegetables

What: Summer vegetables by Alan Richmond. Doors open 7pm for a 8pm start. There will be plants for sale, raffles, door prizes and supper.
When: Monday, 5th February, 7-10pm.
Where: Metzner Hall, Eltham.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

3 Ravens Brewery tour and tasting

What: See behind the scenes of a fully functioning craft brewery. Taste your way through the The 3 Ravens range under the guidance of one of their brewery team. Learn what goes into beer, how it’s produced and how it gets in your glass.
When: Saturday, 10th February and again on Saturday, 10th March, both 4-5pm.
Where: 3 Ravens Brewery, Thornbury.
Cost: $35.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Summer fruit tree pruning workshop

What: VEGs Dan Palmer, Adam Grubb and Jeremy Prentice will go through the theory and lots of practice at summer-pruning a variety of fruit trees. You will also look at sensible orchard design strategies for Melbourne’s climate and soils. Includes a tour of Kim and Clive’s amazing permaculture garden that includes just about everything you could imagine. Please bring a plate toward a shared lunch and any pruning gear you have.
When: Saturday, 3rd March, 10am-2pm.
Where: Heathmont.
Cost: $40.
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.

Jan 092018
 

Interview with Lynn-eva Bottomley of Organic Fix

Just before Christmas, I interviewed Lynn-eva Bottomley of Organic Fix. Organic Fix is a newish food store at 937 Main Road, Eltham (on the west side, opposite Arthur Street) which mostly sells Certified Organic food. As I say in the introduction: “I begin the interview by asking Lynn-eva how she would describe Organic Fix. She replies that it is a ‘community hub of wellness’ where people can buy things that will make them feel better. An important part of this is helping people go on their own little journeys to reduce the amounts of chemicals and fast foods that they consume. And an important part of this is Organic Certification because Certified Organic food is ‘clean and safe’. So, for Lynn-eva, Organic Certification is a means to an end (health) rather than an end in itself. X years ago, she would probably have described Organic Fix as a health food store but she views that as passé, hence ‘community hub of wellness’. The end result is that she sells nuts, seeds, grains, spices, fruit, vegetables, environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and ethical beauty products. Most of these products (and all of the fruit and vegetables) are Certified Organic, with the remainder being where she has satisfied herself that they are equivalent.” We then go on to discuss the range of products that she stocks and her approach to local and non-certified products. Read the full interview.

Mac’s tip of the week

With bursts of hot summer weather starting to challenge our crops, remember to remove any damaged fruit that are unlikely to recover and develop. Energy and nutrients can then be directed to those that remain or are yet to come, rather than wasted on inedible compost material.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

What seeds to plant in January

Beans
Beetroot
Carrot
Chives
Lettuce
Mustard greens
Oregano
Parsley
Radish
Silverbeet
Sweetcorn

 
January is not really a month for planting. According to the list above you can still sneak in some beans or sweetcorn. Lettuce and mustard greens will also grow but will probably go to seed quickly. Why would anyone want to plant parsley? Guy’s tip of the month: sit down, relax and watch those tomatoes and pumpkins that you’ve previously planted mature.

The 2017 Golden Seedling awards – the aftermath

Here’s what some of the award winners said after reading about their award in the last newsletter:

  • St John’s Riverside Community Garden (Heidelberg): “Oh WOW- THANK YOU!!!! We not only CHUFFED but TICKLED PINK that you’ve awarded us the Golden Seedling Community Garden of the Year award. We are touched and encouraged to be acknowledged. Thank you for this award, it means a LOT.
  • Paul Gale-Baker (from Sustainable Macleod): “Thanks for the award. Feeling doubly chuffed.
  • Whitehorse Urban Harvest: “Thank you! Yours is the best local food connecting e-newsletter, if not the best e-newsletter fullstop!
  • Deb Graham (from Blue Pantry): “Guy!!!! I don’t know what to say. Thank you. It’s so rewarding when someone notices the efforts of my daily grind!
  • Maria Ciavarella (from My Green Garden): “Thank you for the award!“

Fay Loveland: “Great Golden Seedling Awards nominations this year. Well done! Newsletter of the year? This one!” Thanks, Fay, you win a belated Golden Seedling for best comment of the year!

Distributor wanted

J.B. Shackleton’s, a boutique marmalade manufacturer in Wonga Park, was awarded the accolade of the World’s Supreme Traditional Marmalade Maker in 2017. The resulting boost in sales means that they no longer have time to do our own deliveries. They’re looking for a keen, experienced, committed person to help with distribution and new customer development, mostly in the Yarra Valley. If you’re prepared to learn about this world class product, and to discuss it with their customers, please see their (slightly out of date) website, then email Lachlan.

From conversations, I think that some other local food producers have the same distribution problems as Lachlan. So, one possibility is for someone to become a distributor for multiple producers. I would be happy to work with someone to make this a reality. So, if you are a producer in need of a distributor, email me, and if you are potentially interested in becoming a distributor for multiple producers, also email me (as well as emailing Lachlan).

A free gift for newsletter readers: PIP magazine

Newsletter reader, and person of importance at PIP magazine, Sam Allemann has written in to offer 2 hard copies of the latest issue of PIP magazine (issue #9) plus a year’s free subscription to the magazine. Here is how it is going to work: email us some time today (Wednesday) with the word “PIP” or equivalent and on Thursday we will select the three prize winners at random. Thanks, Sam!

Want to be a community leader in Banyule?

Applications are now open for Banyule’s Community Leaders in Sustainability Course starting in March 2018. If interested, they recommend that you go along to their information session being held on 13th February at Greensborough. Click here to register for the information session. Click here to apply for the course. To discuss any aspects, contact Jo Connor, the Sustainable Homes and Communities Coordinator, by phone (8470 8405) or email

News about local food producers

The 3 Ravens Brewing Company’s Juicy IPA was recently named as one of Victoria’s best new beers. They, together with Barrow Boys Brewing Co., Kooinda Boutique Brewery and many others, have now been shortlisted for favourite Aussie craft beer. Click here by 19th January to vote.

Fairfield Farmers’ Market has moved to the Melbourne Innovation Centre, 2 Wingrove Street, Alphington.

Sugarloaf Produce have decided that they will only be attending three markets in 2018: Carlton, Collingwood and Eltham.

Duang Tengtrirat, aka the best cook in Nillumbik, has decided to retire from the catering business and Real Food Catering is thus no more.

Frisky Mylk & Co have decided to put their business on hold, at least for a while.

Australian bird of the year

Many of you will have seen that the Australian magpie was voted 2017 Australian bird of the year, just ahead of the Australian white ibis. But you may well not have seen the full list of results from 1-50. Click here.

Have you had an allergic reaction to packaged food?

Food labels are required by law to carry essential information so that people know what is in the food they buy. This includes statements about the presence of food allergens, which are foods known to cause a life-threatening reaction (including anaphylaxis) in people with allergies. People with allergies are at serious risk unless foods are labelled correctly.

The role of the Food Safety Unit at the Department of Health and Human Services is to ensure that food sold in Victoria is safe. They can investigate and test food for allergens that are not described on the food label. If a food is not correctly labelled, they can make sure it is removed from sale. Please contact them by phone (1300 364352 24) or email if you suspect that you have had an allergic or anaphylactic reaction to a packaged food and the label did not show that the food allergen was present.

Thanks for the heads-up, Dana Thomson!

Want a vegan, gluten-free crepe?

Newsletter readers Constance Neal and Rosie Shilo have created a video reviewing the vegan and gluten-free savoury crepes of Eltham Farmer’s Market stallholder What A Crepe. How many newsletter readers can you spot in the video? Apart from Constance and Rosie, I spotted six others: Bev Robertson, Chris Chapple, Dean Romeo, Hans Hoffman, Mary Rankin and Tatiana Coluccio.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Really Really Free Market Preston Facebook page.

Proverb of the month

Once in a blue moon. Meaning: very rarely. In most years, there are 12 full moons during the year (one in each month) and in American folklore these moons had names, often seasonal and farming related. For example, the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox was called ‘the harvest moon’. In around a third of years, however, there are 13 full moons and, from the early 1800s, this extra full moon became popularly known as ‘the blue moon’ (it can come in any season so its name couldn’t be seasonal or farming related). At roughly the same time, the phrase ‘once in a blue moon’ was coined to mean very rarely (even though there is one roughly every third year!).

Incidentally, the monks in the middle ages didn’t like the extra full moon as it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals and it may be for this reason that 13 came to be considered an unlucky number. Perhaps related to this, some people think that the ‘blue’ in ‘blue moon’ is a corruption of ‘belewe’, which mean ‘betrayer’ in Middle English.

Read all the proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

I love things that are indescribable, like the taste of an avocado or the smell of a gardenia. by Barbra Streisand.

Read all the quotes.

Joke of the week

Jane Dyer, from Backyard Honey, has written in to recommend this link for jokes about bees. Here are a couple of the more food-related examples:

What do bees use to style their hair? Honey combs.

Why did the honey bee queen’s dessert wobble when she tried to eat it? Because it was royal jelly.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Fruit tree pruning and tastings

What: What you will learn: the history of Petty’s Orchard and it’s significance; Summer fruit tree pruning techniques; and tasting of some heritage apple varieties. What you will get: an understanding of heritage apple varieties and summer pruning techniques. Members of the Heritage Fruits Society will introduce you to Petty’s Orchard and its important horticultural history, established in the early 1900s and containing over 200 apple varieties. Then you will split into groups and head out into the orchard to discuss and demonstrate different pruning techniques and purposes, and to look at their heritage apple collection. You will also be able to see and taste some early ripening heritage apple varieties.
When: Tuesday, 16th January, 6-7.30pm.
Where: Petty’s Orchard, Templestowe.
Cost: $20.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summer fruit tree pruning

What: Traditionally orchards are pruned during the dormant winter months, but there are benefits to pruning after the harvest in summer. Learn and practice your pruning skills with expert supervision, working in the farm orchard. 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. Morning tea provided. BYO lunch, secateurs and gardening gloves.
When: Sunday, 21st January, 9am-midday.
Where: Bundoora Park Farm.
Cost: $26.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Plant-based midweek cooking class

What: Participants will experience: 90 minutes of hands-on cooking and creating with mostly organic and unrefined/unprocessed foods; 30 minutes plus of relaxing over a meal created during the 6-person class; a pdf of recipes and resources – ongoing support and advice relating to incorporating plant-based foods into your life; and a safe, non-judgemental space where questions are welcomed, friendships are made and food is enjoyed. The content of the classes will run as a recurring 4-part series with each class having a specific focus (i.e. breakfasts, lunches, dinners or desserts) plus an additional snack or pantry staple.
When: 6.30-8.30pm on Tuesdays or Thursdays, roughly fortnightly. Next 11: 23th January, 8th February, 20th February, 8th March, 20th March, 12th April, 24th April, 10th May, 22nd May, 7th June and 19th June.
Where: Smiths Gully.
Cost: $60.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Healthy lives plant-based cooking

What: The classes are 3 hours of creating and 1 hour of eating mostly organic and healthy vegan food. A good part of the class’s content and style is conversational. The class is for up to 8 people and is a mostly demonstration-style class but every dish is made by one of the participants, under Jan Saunder’s guidance. The content of the classes will run as a series, with each class covering at least one of: breakfasts; salads & dressings; dairy & egg replacers; mains; and desserts & treats.
When: midday-4pm on Sundays, roughly fortnightly. Next 9: 28th January, 11th February, 25th February, 25th March, 15th April, 29th April, 13th May, 27th May, 17th June.
Where: Smiths Gully.
Cost: $90.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

New ways of composting and worm farming

What: There is a difference between making compost and worm farms. Where and how do you use each of them? When are they ready to use and what can go wrong? Diana Cotter, local horticulturalist and sustainable gardening enthusiast, will open your eyes to a host of new ideas you may never have previously considered.
When: Monday, 29th January, 11am-midday.
Where: Fawkner Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Transform your garden into a native paradise

What: Learn from native plant expert David Sparks about planning, caring and creating different habitats for different birds, insects and frogs. From what you need to do to plan your garden through to maintenance and pruning, you will gain the skills needed to transform your garden into a native garden. Take home a free native plant.
When: Thursday, 1st February, 6.30-8pm.
Where: Nunawading Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Bush foods & herbs for courtyards & balconies

What: What you will learn: which native produce-plants are suitable for growing in pots and small spaces; what to harvest and when; and how to use bush foods and herbs to flavour your dishes. Presented by Karen Sutherland, of Edible Eden Design. Australian native plants have flavour and aroma profiles unlike any others, and can be easily incorporated into your kitchen. Also, a wide range of them can be grown in Melbourne in pots or small and difficult spaces. In this class, which is ideal for those with limited garden space or even just a courtyard or balcony, you will explore the world of edible native Australian plants that are easy to grow in such spaces, attractive to look at and can easily add flavour and interest to your home-cooked dishes.All plants covered are suitable for Melbourne’s climate, and will be discussed in terms of how best to use and grow them in your garden.
When: Thursday, 1st February, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

The age-old art of preserving – the Summer bounty

What: What you will learn: how to select and re-use suitable jars and how to sterilise them; how to use standard kitchen equipment to make preserves, without needing to buy specialist items; and how to bottle fruit, and make jams, pickles and relishes and the science behind the techniques. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small (new) jars of the 4 preserves made on the day; Preserving Basics booklet, authored by My Green Garden; and tastings of other preserves made by My Green Garden. Learn how to preserve fruits and veggies safely, using a variety of techniques. These techniques can be used on most fruit and veggies so that you learn to make your own delicious preserves, with no artificial additives and nasty numbers. No preserving background is assumed as you go through the science of how to prevent food spoilage using the preserving methods of bottling, jam-making, pickling and making relishes or chutneys using seasonal produce. Dehydrating will also be demonstrated. You will cover the jars and lids to use, safe storage and use.
When: Saturday, 3rd February and again on Wednesday, 21st February, both 10am-1.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $85.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Brewers Feast Festival

What: Brewers Feast is a boutique craft beer and food festival, made by beer and food lovers for beer and food lovers. It will feature around 18 breweries and 70 beers (as well as cider, wine, fresh juice and homemade lemonade). There will also be food and live music. Throughout the day, there will be craft beer education classes, exploring the tastes and flavours of beer pairing with food, cheese, confectionery and other foods. Enjoy free samples while learning more about your beer.
When: Saturday, 3rd February, 11.30am-8pm.
Where: Abbotsford Convent.
Cost: $37.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Native herbs for the kitchen and garden

What: What you will learn: which native produce-plants are suitable for growing in the Melbourne area; what to harvest and when; and how to use them to flavour your dishes and enliven your garden. Presented by Karen Sutherland, of Edible Eden Design. Explore edible native Australian plants that are easy to grow, attractive and add flavour and interest to your home-cooked dishes. Lemon myrtle, bush pepper and native salt are just a few of the flavours we can smell and taste, and they and many others will be discussed in terms of how best to use and grow them in your garden. All plants covered are suitable for a Melbourne climate, and many are suitable for pot cultivation. Add bushfoods to your garden and plate without delay!
When: Thursday, 8th February, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Natural pest control with companion planting

What: What you will learn: which plants to grow together, and which ones not to; how to solve many common garden problems naturally; and how to construct ‘plant guilds’ (groups of plants that grow much better together). Presented by Angelo Eliades. With companion planting, by knowing which plants to grow together and which ones not to, you can grow stronger, healthier and more productive plants, improve soil quality, and reduce pests and diseases in your garden. Learn which companion plants to add to your garden to solve many common garden problems naturally, and find out how to construct ‘plant guilds’ (groups of plants that grow much better together) for more abundant harvests.
When: Saturday, 10th February, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Preserving know-how – savoury ways with tomatoes

What: What you will learn: how to preserve the seasonal bounty of tomatoes in a variety of different methods, including bottling, drying, sauces and savoury condiments; how to select and re-use suitable jars and how to sterilise them; and the basic science behind different preserving techniques so that your preserves remain safe to eat. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small jars of the preserves made on the day; Preserving Basics booklet, authored by My Green Garden; and tastings of other preserves made by My Green Garden. Growing tomatoes can be incredibly rewarding and their productivity can leave you with a glut that demands to be turned into delicious sauces and preserves. And even if you don’t grow them, you can always make the most of the seasonal varieties available over this period to make your own bottles and jars to last you through the winter. In this workshop, you will cover different preserving techniques, including bottling, dehydrating, making sauces, passata, pickles and chutneys, as well as some traditional Italian techniques with tomatoes. You will get to taste and then take home all of the preserves made on the day.
When: Saturday, 10th February, 10am-1.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $85.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Chocolate discovery class

What: This class includes indulging in a range of chocolate & truffle tastings, the chance to learn about how chocolate is made, and finding out about the inspiration behind each of their specialty ranges with their European Chocolatiers. Your chocolate education concludes with the chance to create your own personal chocolate bar and delve in giant lollipop making fun.
When: Saturday, 10th February, 11.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Yarra Glen.
Cost: $48.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

School lunch boxes

What: The average household in Australia throws away $2,000 worth of food every year. That means that one out of five bags of shopping that is purchased is never eaten. Join Gaby and Jen from Plan Buy Cook to learn some simple ways to reduce the food waste and save you time and money. Bookings essential.
When: Tuesday, 13th February, 11am-midday.
Where: North Fitzroy Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Herbs for the home gardener

What: Are you a herb lover and would absolutely enjoy your own herb garden but aren’t sure where to start? This course will include plant identification, herb history and resources, how to grow and cook with herbs as well as crafts and the health benefits. Learn about plant propagation, container growing, companion planting, plant nutrition and herb design.
When: Tuesday, 13th February, 7-9pm and again on Saturday, 24th February, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: North Ringwood Community House.
Cost: $60.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

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, 17th February, 10am-1pm.
Where: Living & Learning Nillumbik at Panton Hill.
Cost: $59.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Heritage apple tasting

What: Sample the seasonal flavours of the heritage apple collection at an apple tasting afternoon at 5pm. Around 15 varieties will be available for tasting, with limited quantities available for purchase. An orchard tour included.
All funds received go toward the maintenance and expansion of the collection.
When: Sunday, 18th February, 5-7pm.
Where: Petty’s Orchard, Templestowe.
Cost: $15.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Melissa King – Garden Guru

What: Go along to meet Melissa and listen to her expert advice.
When: Tuesday, 20th February, 11.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Diamond Valley Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Hot composting

What: Join Heide head Gardener Dugald Noyes for a hot composting tour. Discuss sustainable green waste management at Heide for the home garden.
When: Thursday, 22nd February, 11am-midday.
Where: Heide, Bulleen.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Shady edibles

What: One of the most challenging spots in any garden is shade. Karen Sutherland, from Edible Eden Design, will share her top tips to turn this challenge into an opportunity. Discover shade-loving edibles that will give you aromatic and useful foliage and unusual fruits.
When: Thursday, 22nd February, 7-8.30pm.
Where: Whitehorse Centre.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Home beer-brewing workshop

What: Cade, from Home Make It, will show you how to make a malt extract brew while you trial some different home brews. Only participants over the age of 18 may attend.
When: Thursday, 22nd February, 7.45-8.45pm.
Where: Brunswick Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summer fruit tree maintenance

What: What you will learn: how to prune to keep trees to a manageable size; how to prune to maximise fruit production in the coming season; and keeping espaliered shapes in check. Watch and ask questions of Angelo Eliades, as he prunes both traditionally shaped trees and espaliered varieties. Convention had us pruning deciduous fruit trees in winter but now the thinking is swinging to doing it straight after fruiting, in late summer or autumn. Techniques are slightly different, so it is wise to see the pruning in action on actual trees.
When: Saturday, 24th February, 9am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Composting

What: Learn how to efficiently compost food and garden waste. Bring any weeds or other additions you would like to learn how to compost. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing for the weather. Expect to get dirty!
When: Sunday, 25th February, 10am-midday.
Where: Watsonia Neighbourhood House.
Cost: gold coin.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Introduction to horticulture – 9 session course

What: Every Monday for 9 weeks. This 9-week hands-on course will introduce you to a range of topics in the field of horticulture. Places in the course are government-subsidised, so it is a great starting point for people thinking about turning their passion into a career in horticulture, or simply for home food growers who want to learn more – only $130 for a 9-session course! No prior experience is necessary. Working as a team with fellow participants, you will gain a broad overview and practical, hands-on experience such topics as: introduction to plant recognition; propagation; planting; soil properties; environmentally sustainable work practices; and career pathways/further study in the horticulture industry. You will spend a lot of time outdoors (getting your hands dirty!) under the leadership of an experienced trainer and horticulturalist, along with some time in the classroom learning basic theory and exploring study pathways. The course will be run by Justin Calverley.
When: Monday, 26th February, 9.30am-3pm and then every Monday for 9 weeks.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $135 for all 9 sessions ($78 concession).
Bookings: by phone (9433 3744).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Italian savoury preserves

What: What you will learn: how to use vegetables to make savoury preserves, Italian style; how to select suitable jars and how to sterilise them; and how to use bottling techniques to preserve sauces, ready to eat. What you will get: jars of all the preserves made on the day; recipes for the techniques covered in the workshop; tastings of preserves previously made; and vegetables prepared on the day to take home and continue the processes learnt. Italians have perfected the art of the antipasto platter, with delicious savoury pickled vegetables often made with fresh organic veggies from their own gardens. You will use many of the vegetables from the home of My Green Garden to create preserves done in the Italian style. Then you will make a tomato pasta sauce that can be preserved for future use – fast-food the Italian way! A jar of everything you make is taken home by each participant, as well as some vegetables prepped on the day to continue some processes at home.
When: Tuesday, 27th February, 10am-1.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $85.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Dec 162017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

All produce gardeners should have a clump of bamboo. Be it potted, contained in an old bath, or a controlled clumping form, these plants can be very useful. No, I don’t mean eating the shoots. I mean for homegrown stakes, climbing frames and edging. If you want to be sustainable, why buy stakes when you can grow your own? And the plants look good too!

Read all of Mac’s tips.

The 2017 Golden Seedling awards

Now in their third year and now expanded to 16 awards. As Sustainable Macleod said last year after being told of their award: “we are very chuffed!

Maybe there should be a judging panel, or maybe voting by the readership, but at the moment it is just my 2 cents.

Awards to organisations
  • Community garden of the year – a difficult award as I only visited a minority of the community gardens but I’m going to give it to St John’s Riverside Community Garden (Heidelberg): they have clearly gone from strength to strength over the year. Honorary mention – SEEDs Communal Garden Brunswick: regular working bees, food swaps and workshops plus a lively Facebook page.
  • Food swap of the year – another difficult award as I only visited a minority of the food swaps but I’m going to give it to the Forest Hill and Box Hill South food swaps, both run by Whitehorse Urban Harvest: free talks at many of their swaps and, importantly, they tell people by email about the talks before they happen. Honorary mention – Warrandyte Food Swap: a great ambience and they actively recruit people to receive this newsletter.
  • Library of the yearWatsonia (for the second year running): for their free, monthly events on different topics and their hosting of a community garden. Honorary mention – Box Hill: their events were the most popular on our website.
  • Innovation of the yearReally Really Free Market Preston: yes, everything is free and there are no catches.
  • Villain of the yearMicrosoft: for classifying this newsletter (and all other MailChimp newsletters) as spam for no reason in November, admitting this, but then effectively saying that they can’t be bothered fixing the problem.
  • Newspaper of the year – not awarded: The Weekly Review now has no local stuff and The Leader’s search facility has, for some reason, been crippled.
Awards to individuals
  • Overall contributor of the yearPaul Gale-Baker, of Sustainable Macleod: always indefatigable, energetic, obliging, and helpful to others. Honorary mention – Felicity Gordon: also indefatigable, energetic and obliging plus a wonderful painter of plants and veggies.
  • Newsletter contributor of the yearHelen Simpson (for the third year running): for her interviews of local home growers; her growing guides from previous years are also some of the most popular pages on our website. Honorary mention – Mac McVeigh: for his weekly tips, which are always informative and often witty.
  • Workshop presenter of the yearMaria Ciavarella, from My Green Garden: for her 20 or so workshops during 2017 at her own home plus many others at various other locations. Honorary mention – Rasha Tayeh: for her workshops on unusual topics.
  • Council officer of the yearLee Tozzi, of both Darebin and Moreland: for her leadership of the Homemade Food & Wine Festival, the Backyard Harvest Festival and other food initiatives. Let’s hope there is more competition in future years.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit – shared between Cath Lyons (aka Tiny Trowel), for her Crowd Harvest initiative, and Deb Graham (from Blue Pantry): entrepreneurial spirit is difficult to define but you know it when you see it.
Newsletter links

An extra Warrandyte Food Swap + extra Warrandyte Riverside Market

They had to cancel on 2nd December due to the weather so they are both having extra ones on 16th December.

News about local food producers

Best Of Health is a new organic bulkfoods store in Greensborough. Inter alia, they sell the products of AVS Organic Foods, who are from Watsonia North.

PoppySmack, from Warrandyte, now sell a kit to make rice paper rolls.

Local food production in the news

The community garden in Condell Street, Fitzroy was the subject of an article in The Age.

Which link was clicked most times in last week’s newsletter?

Briar Hill Primary School gardening job application.

Joke of the week

What did the skeleton order for dinner? Spare ribs!

Read all the jokes.

New events

In last week’s newsletter, I said that I would include January events this week. In practice, however, hardly anyone has yet announced their January events.

Really Really Free Market Preston end of year celebration

What: Join the Really Really Free Market (Preston) community for an end of year celebration lunch which will replace the market for the month of December, as it falls on New Years Eve and many of them are busy. Bring some food to share (but only if you can, no obligations, there will be plenty for all!). There will be a kitchen you can use if you want to join the communal cook-up beforehand at 11am.
When: Sunday, 17th December, 12.30-2.30pm.
Where: Preston.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

How to make sense of food labels

What: Tour a supermarket and learn how to accurately read and understand food labels and choose healthy foods that are suitable for the whole family. You will also receive a show bag with information sheets and a healthy shopping guide booklet. The tours are led by healthAbility’s qualified dietitian and open to anyone interested in healthy eating.
When: Thursday, 11th January, 9.30-11am.
Where: Woolworths, Eltham.
Cost: $15 (includes a healthy shopping guide booklet).
Bookings: by phone (9430 9100).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summer fruit tree pruning

What: Traditionally orchards are pruned during the dormant winter months, but there are benefits to pruning after the harvest in summer. Learn and practice your pruning skills with expert supervision, working in the farm orchard. 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. Morning tea provided. BYO lunch, secateurs and gardening gloves.
When: Sunday, 21st January, 9am-midday.
Where: Bundoora Park Farm.
Cost: $26.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

In December
In January

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Dec 062017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

My tip this week is all about whiteflies. These sap-sucking pests are what look like ‘flying dandruff’ when heavily infested plants are disturbed. At the moment, that may well be many of your veggies. As they suck the sap on the underside of your leaves, you will see yellow or white mottling on the upper surface. Ladybirds, lacewings, hoverfly, parasitic wasps, spiders and birds can be natural predators, but often you may have to get involved as the whitefly population explodes.

Squirting with a hose, especially the undersides of the leaves, while shouting ‘GET OFF’ or ‘BE GONE’ at least once a day for 3 or 4 days can quite often work and gives great satisfaction.
Hand picking older leaves to remove young whitefly stages also helps.

I have also heard that vacuuming (seriously) your plants in the early morning (when whiteflies are cold and slow moving) can remove many of the adults before they have a chance to lay many eggs. I would, however, suggest that you don’t drag out the Dyson but instead use a smaller battery car cleaning type vacuum device instead.

If spraying becomes necessary, be sure to spray underneath the leaves, preferably late in the afternoon when predators are less active. Suitable organic sprays include Natrasoap, Eco Oil, and Eco Neem.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

Do you want a paid, part-time job as a gardening specialist?

Briar Hill Primary School has a vibrant garden environment, with the capacity for fruit tree growth, vegetables, herb and indigenous plants. They are seeking a gardening specialist to take overall responsibility for planning and maintaining the garden. The applicant will need a strong background in selecting, delivering and leading a gardening program. They would deliver lessons on 2 days a week (18 days per term), starting at 11am and finishing at 4pm, and will be paid for 10 hours’ work. The rate of pay per hour would be dependent on relevant knowledge, expertise, qualifications and experience. Read more and/or apply.

The 2018 Home Harvest FEASTival

The 2018 Home Harvest FEASTival for home growers in Nillumbik and Banyule will be on 4th March at Edendale. As last year, it will be a picnic. They are already encouraging growers to register.

The associated ‘harvest month’ will be stretched out over a 3 month ‘harvest time’ (February to April), with talks, workshops and open gardens. If you have a garden that you would potentially be happy showing off to like-minded people, email Pam Jenkins. If you would potentially like to give a talk, run a workshop or share a skill with other members of the community, also email Pam. Note that the local libraries will be venues for some of the talks and they would like presenters to let them know early so that they can get their advertising brochures out.

The great garlic growing debate continues

In last week’s newsletter, I discussed the initial results of a garlic growing experiment covering Monaro Purple hardnecks. Chris Newman has written in to say that he is concerned that my wording might be taken to mean that people should have harvested all their garlic by now. Rather, as Chris says, one should wait until the green tops have died back and the timing of this might vary by variety, when they were planted, their watering regime, etc. As the picture shows, Chris’s garlic has not yet reached this stage.

Chris also pointed out the aphorism: ‘plant your garlic cloves on the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year) and then harvest them on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year)’. For me, this aphorism is in the same category as ‘plant your tomatoes on Cup day’ – both timings are a month or so too late.

Finally, Chris is also growing elephant garlic, an alternative to garlic which is technically a leek (Allium ampeloprasum) rather than a garlic (Allium sativum). According to Wikipedia, elephant garlic, unlike standard garlic, does not have to be harvested each year but can be ignored and left in the ground without much risk of rotting. Chris says that the the Macleod Organic Community Garden elephant garlic has had some little babies on the side, so he will be leaving some in the ground at home to see what happens. Elephant garlic has a mild, sweet flavour that is somewhere between garlic and onion. Thanks for all the info, Chris!

My Australian White hardnecks have now died back and I have therefore harvested them. Here are the results:

  • Normal-sized garlics: the April plantings, the early May plantings, and the refrigerated June plantings.
  • Small garlics: the late May plantings and the unrefrigerated June plantings.

So, based on my experiments, the conclusion remains: continue to plant your garlic in late April or early May even if the weather is warm. If you forget, try putting your garlic into the fridge for a bit before planting.

Crepe Collective

Eltham-based Crepe Collective have been added to the Local Food Directory. They sell ready-to-eat savoury galettes and sweet crepes at Eltham and Carlton Farmers’ Markets. Their savoury galettes include potato, mushroom, capsicum, tomato and other vegetarian options. Their sweet crepes include lemon, choc-hazelnut, strawberry and banana. All their batters, spreads and sauces are homemade and they use speciality flour, such as buckwheat, to cater for the gluten intolerant. They aim to leave as little a footprint as possible, so their menu is designed to avoid food wastage and their packaging is biodegradable. They are currently scheduled at Eltham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Sunday of each month but there is no market on 24th December so you might well have to wait until 28th January to try their crepes. Welcome Mel!

Local food producer news

The eggs of Top Hundred Acres, from Yan Yean, can now be bought at Nature’s Harvest Hurstbridge.

Blue Pear Pantry, from North Warrandyte, and Kings of Kangaroo Ground will both have stalls at the Eltham Twilight Market on 14th December, 4-9pm.

Community garden news

There is now a page on our website about the community garden at La Trobe University, called The Patch. That makes a total of 39 local community gardens that are described on the website. Welcome Ashley and colleagues!

Although many of the local community gardens have Facebook pages, most do not have newsletters. One exception is Thrive Community Garden (in Diamond Creek), who appear to have re-started their newsletter. Read their latest newsletter. Sign up for their future newsletters.

Another exception is Macleod Organic Community Garden, which has regular monthly newsletters. Read their latest newsletter. Sign up for their future newsletters.

Banyule Council grant recipients in 2017

In 2017, Banyule Council awarded $50,000 in environmental sustainability grants. They included:

  • Ivanhoe Children’s Community Cooperative: establishment of a low maintenance composting system which will recycle the kitchen food waste.
  • Mary Immaculate Primary School: funding for new compost bins to enable recycling of food waste at the school.
  • Murundaka Cohousing Community: hosting of workshops, including introduction to composting and beeswax food cover making.
  • St Pius X Primary School: establishment of garden beds to provide fresh produce for gardening workshops and community harvesting events.
  • Watsonia Heights Primary School: installation of ten raised wicking beds to grow vegetables, herbs and native plants.
  • Watsonia Library Community Garden: new fruit trees.

Which link was clicked most times in last week’s newsletter?

Helen Simpson’s interview with Guy and Susan Palmer.

Question of the week

What’s a turophile?

Joke of the week

Why didn’t the melons get married? Because they cantaloupe.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Events in January will be covered in next week’s newsletter.

Petty’s Orchard – collection, maintenance and discussion

What: They need to graft some more trees and so will have a demo of green grafting. Possibly mowing and putting more guards around trees. They always discuss plans for the orchard and encourage new ideas.
When: Wednesday, 13th December, 9am-midday.
Where: Petty’s Orchard, Templestowe.
Cost: free.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Mulching for Summer

What: Discuss mulching methods and other water-wise tips for your garden this summer with Heide gardener Katie Grace.
When: Thursday, 14th December, 11am-midday.
Where: Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the rest of December

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.