Nov 302013

Join a vibrant food culture, growing and eating local

Covering all matters food in North East Melbourne

Whether you want to eat local food, grow veggies in your garden or enjoying your local community life, Local Food Connect is for you!

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

Mar 222017

Organic provedore (aka shop) and nursery at Monsalvat

This is a temporary pop-up shop selling a variety of food and plants, much of it locally grown. It is open Friday to Sunday each week, from 10am to 4pm, but only until end May. Featured local food producers include: KABUU, Koala Honey, Old Evropa, Sugarloaf Produce and Under The Pickle Tree. It is an initiative by newsletter reader Richard Lee (aka KABUU) and is run by volunteers. The picture features one such volunteer, newsletter reader Karin Motyer.

Achieving success with dehydrating

Last week, Pam Jenkins and Bev Robertson ran some workshops on how to use a dehydrator successfully. Someone told me that their notes were rather good so I asked for a copy. Click here to read their notes.

Click here to borrow our Fowlers Ultimate Dehydrator.

A new brewer – Barrow Boys Brewing Co., from Reservoir

Read their Local Food Directory entry. They are gypsy brewers, which means that they don’t have a brewery of their own, but create their beer in other brew houses around Melbourne. You can buy their beer at bottle shops throughout North East Melbourne. Welcome Dean and Ash!

There are now 7 beverage makers in the Local Food Directory, including 4 brewers.

Mac’s tip of the week

Ok, your pumpkins now look ready … but maybe don’t pick them just yet. The longer you leave them on the vine, the sweeter they will get, and the longer they can be stored. It is best to wait until the vine dies off and the stem to your pumpkin withers and goes brown. Don’t worry if frosts arrive – they will only kill the vines. Pick with as much stem as possible – some people keep up to 1m of vine attached if they plan to store the pumpkin for months. Many growers also keep the pumpkins in a sheltered outdoor spot for up to a week to mature before storing in a cool, dark well ventilated area. Hanging in a bird net sack in a dark shed works well … and it also keeps the rats at bay. Finally, note that most pumpkins are best kept for at least a week or so before eating, although Japs can be eaten as soon as picked. Until next time, remember: dirty hands are good hands.

Click here to view all of Mac’s tips.

Zucchini pickles

Yes, folks, it’s another zucchini recipe. Maria Ciavarella, from My Green Garden, will be demonstrating how to make zucchini pickles at Eltham Farmers’ Market on 26th March. Click here to read her recipe.

Click here for all 21 of our newsletter readers’ zucchini recipes.

Incidently, Maria was interviewed by Clare Bowditch on ABC Melbourne earlier this week on the subject of compost. Click here to listen to the interview (13 minutes). Earlier this month, she was also interviewed on 3WBC on on a variety of subjects (chickens, growing veggies, etc) – click here to listen (36 minutes).

Want some free soil?

According to newsletter reader Adrian O’Hagen, of Permablitz Melbourne fame, you can pick up free soil from Northcote so long as you take at least a cubic metre. Dan from CERES apparently has a lot of certified organic seed raising mix from Grow Better which he only uses once before discarding. Click here to arrange your pickup.

A local entry at The Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show

The Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show is taking place from Wednesday, 29th March to Sunday, 2nd April. Newsletter reader Paul Morland will be displaying his Four R’s designed and built garden in the Achievable Garden category. If you are going to the show, he invites you to introduce yourself and say hello.

Paul is a qualified landscaper and designer. He is one of 8 such listed on the resources page on our website.

A picture of some newsletter readers

Some newsletter readers were spotted in Duang and Rob’s garden in Research. What should they be called? A gaggle (cf. geese)? A rhumba (cf. rattlesnakes)? An implausibility (cf. wildebeest aka gnus)?

Sustainable Table

Sustainable Table is a Melbourne-based organisation that aims to provide Australians with the tools and information to make ethical eating easy. Their website has recently had a facelift.

Melbourne’s best pizza 2017

Good Food have announced their 10 best pizza restaurants of 2017. Half are from North East Melbourne: A Boy Named Sue (St Andrews), Kaprica (Carlton), Lazerpig (Collingwood), Lievita (Northcote) and Postino (Balwyn).

10 benefits of DIY food

10 benefits of DIY food is the latest blog entry by newsletter reader Lucinda Flynn of Hurstbridge-based Going Green Solutions.

How to make free seed packets (no scissors or glue needed)

Thanks to Cath Lyons for pointing it out; as she said “really cool – so simple!Click here for a (printable) template that you can use.

The bloke who made this video has actually made a whole bunch of interesting videos about growing food. Click here for his Youtube page.

The Wild Pollinator Count

The next Wild Pollinator Count is from 9th to 16th April. Why not take part? As they say, “You can join in by watching any flowering plant for just ten minutes.

Joke of the week

Martin O’Callaghan has submitted the following: What did the papa potato say to the baby potato? “I’m keeping an eye on you.”

Martin also suggested I try and improve upon his joke. Inspired by a recent visit, I’ve come up with: Why can’t you tell secrets in a community garden? Because the sweetcorn has ears and the potatoes have eyes.

New events

On The Bend / On The Mend – Coffee and Beer Festival

What: There’s not much else that Melbournites love more than great coffee and great beer. The event will feature six local breweries and six local coffee roasters collaborating on beers that feature coffee as a key ingredient. The day will also feature live music, coffee and beer workshops, and a raclette cheese bar. Your ticket includes as much beer, coffee and cheese as you can consume within 5 hours! The breweries: 3 Ravens Brewery; Tallboy & Moose; Sailors Grave Brewing; Hop Nation Brewing Co; Blackman’s Brewery; and Temple Brewing. The roasters: Aviary Coffee; Small Batch; Cartel Coffee Roasters; DC Specialty Coffee Roasters; Red Bean Coffee; and Wide Open Road.
When: Sunday, 2nd April, midday-5pm.
Where: 3 Ravens Brewery, Thornbury.
Cost: $64.
Enquiries: Nathan Liascos by phone (9495 1026 or 0433 955106) or email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Organic gardening for beginners (two day)

What: Want to grow your own healthy vegetables, herbs and fruits but don’t know where to start? Would you like to improve your family’s food security and increase your skills and garden productivity? Part theory and part hands-on, this workshop will help the beginner organic gardener develop the skills and knowledge to start a thriving edible oasis at home.
When: Saturday, 20th May and Saturday, 27th May, both 10am-4pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $115 for the two days.
Enquiries: Edendale by phone (9433 3711) or email.
Bookings / Further information: Edendale website.

Summary of upcoming events

Corrections and clarifications

Olive magic – preserving olives at Massaros is on Saturday, 22nd April and Friday, 28th April, not 1st May.

Over the next week
Over the next month

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events. Click here for help in how to view the calendar selectively (e.g. search for events in a given suburb).

Mar 142017

A new, local mushroom grower – Wyldblooms

A new and local food producer, Wyldblooms (from Rosanna), has started selling Asian mushrooms at Eltham Farmers’ Market. Their mushrooms include pearl oyster, blue oyster, king trumpet, shiitake and reishi. All are grown on a diet of biodynamic rye, organic pea straw and sustainably-sourced sawdust supplied by local businesses. They also sell grow-at-home kits. Your can buy their stuff at Eltham Farmers’ Market and thery are also setting up an online shop. Welcome Phuong!

Although (for staffing reasons) The Mushroom Co (from Ringwood) no longer have a stall at Eltham Farmers’ Market, you can still buy their produce at any of the following farmers’ markets: Boroondara, Collingwood Childrens Farm, Flemington, Gasworks and Slow Food Melbourne.

A map of Eltham’s restaurants

After spending January drinking my way round Eltham (coffee only!) for the Eltham cafes map, I have now spent February and March eating my way round Eltham in order to create an Eltham restaurants map. The map shows where all the 20 restaurants are, their contact details and their menus. Menus are available for every single restaurant (although some suffer from my poor photographic skills).

Note that, of the 20 restaurants, 4 specialise in Italian food, 2 Indian, 2 Thai, 1 Chinese and 1 Lebanese. 7 of the 20 are also cafes (i.e. they are open during the day), whilst 13 are open in the evening only. In passing, 12 of the 20 also do takeaway, but that will be the subject for a future newsletter.

News about Eltham cafes

Eltham now has 31 cafes rather than 30! Platform 3095 has just opened and is next to the railway station. They are currently only open during the day and only serving a limited amount of food but Jennifer and Jean Francois have plans to build a kitchen in the near future, at which time they will also open in the evening. They also plan to serve, or use, a variety of local food. Welcome Jennifer and Jean Francois!

Eltham Glasshouse has re-opened with a changed menu after renovations by its new management. Its new owner, Peter, also owns the Dunyazad Lebanese Restaurant in Balwyn North. Welcome Peter!

Eira has a new menu, which you can download.

All three changes above have been included in the Eltham cafes map.

Community Grocer comes to Mernda

The Community Grocer aims to improve access for people living on a low-income to fresh, affordable food. They do this by operating fruit and vegetable stalls in three locations:

  • Carlton: every Friday, from 9am-midday at the public housing estate, 510 Lygon Street.
  • Fawkner: every Wednesday, from 9am-12.30pm at the Community Hub, 79-83 Jukes Road.
  • Mernda: every Thursday, from 9am-midday at Mernda Central P-12 College, 70 Breadalbane Avenue.

Mernda is launching on Thursday, 16th March. As Annemaree Docking, Agribusiness Officer at Whittlesea Council, says: “All are welcome, so get behind this wonderful new initiative and grab yourself some fresh seasonal fruit and veg!”

Jane Edmanson visits FareShare at Abbotsford

FareShare cooks 5,000(!), free nutritious meals for Victorians for free every day. Watch this video from this week’s Gardening Australia, where Jane Edmanson visits them to see what they do and how they do it. It is both watchable and reasonably short (5 minutes).

Community gardens news

St Johns Riverside Community Garden, Heidelberg, officially opened on 4th March. More than 50 people turned up, including two Councillors.

The Eltham Living & Learning Centre has a communal veggie garden comprising several, large, raised beds. They meet every Thursday, 9.30-11am. Some of their longstanding gardeners are moving from the area and they are looking for new members. If interested, or for further information, phone either Trevor Roberts (0401 710997) or Karyn Kamminga (9433 3744).

The Northcote Library Food Garden is a communal food garden. Working bees take place on the second Sunday of the month at 10am, except long weekends (so 19th March, 9th April, 14th May, etc). They are looking for more members to share the satisfying experience of growing and sharing healthy organic food. If interested, or for further information, email them.

Mac’s tip of the week

When to pick a pear … well, about now actually. Pears are best picked before they are fully ripe. Picking about 2 weeks before full maturity is best, just when the skin color is starting to change and, if cut, the seeds are turning black. Here’s how to test: if the stem breaks off with the fruit when you lift them upwards to be horizontal, then they are ready. If kept at room temperature, they will then (like tomatoes) continue to ripen. If you press your thumb into the neck of the pear and it yields a little then your pear is ready to eat. Until next time, remember: dirty hands are good hands.

Fruits that ripens after being picked are called ‘climacteric’. Banana and tomato are the classic examples. Other climacteric fruits include apricot, avocado, custard apple, peach, pear and plum. Fruits that don’t ripen at all after being picked are called ‘non-climacteric’ and they include all citrus, cherry, grape, pineapple and strawberry. Full lists are included in the fruiting schedule on the website.

Click here to view all of Mac’s tips.

The Cider & Ale Trail

The Cider & Ale Trail comprises 11 breweries etc from roughly Wonga Park to roughly Healesville. Read this article by Zoe Powell as she travels the trail.

Do you like Helen Mirren’s films?

Winchester is a film currently being shot in Victoria. It stars Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke and is scheduled to be released in either late 2017 or 2018. But the current shooting on location has apparently only been made possible because our local bee man, Frankie, from Bee Rescue, has been hard at work removing a swarm of bees.

Do you want to be on the television?

Channel Nine rang up (yes, really!) to ask if any newsletter readers would like to be on their upcoming cooking show called Family Food Fight. They are looking for families who share a passion for cooking together as a family. The show will be all about celebrating multi cultural families who love to cook traditional cultural recipes that have been in their families for generations. Your ‘family’ must be made up of 4 people, but they can be any type of relations. Click here to register. To talk to someone, contact James Chadney (Associate Producer) by phone (02 8587 1364) or email.

Two chicken songs and some knee socks

Both Fay Loveland and PIP Magazine suggest that you watch this song by someone called Loren Kate about a chicken called Cloudy Jane.

Neither Fay nor PIP Magazine suggest that you watch this chicken yodelling by someone called Takeo Ischi.

Maybe these videos will inspire you to buy some of these chicken knee socks. Only $10 a pair.

Joke of the week

What did the apple say to the orange? Nothing, stupid … apples don’t talk!

New events

A taste of harmony – food demonstrations and community lunch

What: Learn to cook food celebrated throughout the world and enjoy a community lunch. Hosted by five local residents from different cultural backgrounds, this event will celebrate the stories, memories and new connections to people and the food they love. Bookings essential.
When: Thursday, 23rd March, 10am-2pm.
Where: Heidelberg West.
Cost: $5.
Enquiries / Bookings: by phone (8582 9501).
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Open Farm Day

What: Open Farm Day is your chance to visit working farms and meet local farmers. This year’s participating farms come from Nillumbik, Whittlesea and the Kinglake Ranges. The activities will include: farm tours; live demonstrations; farm animals; and product tastings. The farms participating in 2017 are: Apted Farm Services; Apteds Pear and Apple Orchard; Edendale Community Environment Farm; Giverny Estate; Kings of Kangaroo Ground; Northern Lodge Training Centre (Melbourne Polytechnic); Omaru Alpaca; Philip Lobley Wines; Shaws Road Winery and Cider; Sugarloaf Produce; Turners Bakehouse; Wedgetail Estate; Weeping Grevillea Nursery; Yan Yean Farm (Melbourne Polytechnic); Yarrambat Estate Vineyard; and Yarra Valley Custom Meats.
When: Sunday, 2nd April, 10am-4pm.
Where: various.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Nillumbik Council by phone (9433 3316) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Easter cupcake decorating (Brunswick)

What: Get creative with Easter cupcake decorating. During the session, you’ll be able to learn new techniques for icing and decorating cupcakes with a delightful Easter theme. Not suitable for children. All materials provided.
When: Wednesday, 5th April, 2-3pm.
Where: Brunswick Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Moreland City Libraries by phone (9389 8600) or email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Easter cupcake decorating (Coburg)

What: Get creative with Easter cupcake decorating. During the session, you’ll be able to learn new techniques for icing and decorating cupcakes with a delightful Easter theme. Not suitable for children. All materials provided.
When: Thursday, 6th April, 2-3pm.
Where: Brunswick Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Moreland City Libraries by phone (9389 8600) or email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Mediterranean cooking with Angela

What: Angela will demonstrate how to make simple, healthy, seasonal dishes inspired by the Mediterranean diet. Angela is a passionate cook and teacher at her own cooking school, Angela’s Kitchen, in Northcote.
When: Saturday, 6th May, 10-11am.
Where: Montrose Library.
Cost: $5.
Enquiries: Montrose Library by phone (9800 6490).
Bookings: Eastern Regional Libraries’ website.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Italian cooking workshop (flavours of Naples)

What: A tasty three-course menu, including pasta, will be prepared in this hands-on workshop and enjoyed afterwards. Tutor Janice Mariani. Janice spent 30 years cooking for the locals and celebrities in a restaurant amidst the hills of Umbria, Italy. Bring an apron and a container to take home any leftovers.
When: Saturday, 6th May, 10-1pm.
Where: Living & Learning Nillumbik at Panton Hill.
Cost: $72.
Enquiries: Living & Learning Nillumbik by phone (9433 3744) or email.
Bookings: Living & Learning website.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events. Click here for help in how to view the calendar selectively (e.g. search for events in a given suburb).

Mar 082017

Joke of the week

One day, you’re the best thing since sliced bread. The next, you’re toast.

Mac’s tip of the week

Although our official European calendar says that summer ended at the end of February, we are definitely not yet in Autumn, so don’t rush to plant ‘Autumn’ seedlings just yet. No doubt, (I hope), you have all heard that Melbourne in fact has 6-8 seasons, and we are still in late summer. Our true locals, the Wurundjeri, knew that there were 6-8 seasons, and they signalled these by when certain plants would flower, animals would breed, eggs would hatch, etc. Even today, some fisherman apparently use the flowering of the Coastal Tea Tree in early November to mark the entry of snapper into Port Phillip Bay. So keep watering, probably until April, and don’t plant your autumn/winter crops too early. Until next time, remember to wash your hands after gardening.

Click here to view all of Mac’s tips.

Want some free coffee grounds? Try Reground

If you want lots of coffee grounds at zero cost and you live in Melbourne, then Reground may well be the organisation for you. They will deliver to your door(!) and as often as you want. As far as I can make out, the only potential issue is their (large) minimum delivery quantities: 2 bins if you live in inner Melbourne or 7 bins if you live in outer Melbourne. Thus far, they have re-purposed 26 tonnes of ground coffee into gardens around Melbourne. If you want some, contact Ninna Larsen by phone (0466 242575) or email.

Here is what Ninna says: “Reground is a sustainable waste management service for used ground coffee. We re-direct organic coffee waste away from landfill, re-distributing it to gardens city-wide, reducing the carbon impact of coffee consumption. There are around 2,600 cafes in the City of Melbourne. These cafes produce around 160,000kg of coffee-ground waste every month, contributing around 260 tonnes of methane gas to our atmosphere. Ground coffee is exceptionally nutrient-rich material, making a powerful soil amendment and a highly sought after organic matter for community gardens, farmers, and home-gardeners alike. By collecting the used coffee grounds from cafes and roasteries, Reground provides an innovative and dynamic service, creating a positive impact on the environment and their communities. We now also pick up chaff, which is high in carbon, and deliver it for free.

Here is what newsletter reader Stuart Rodda says: “I am exceptionally pleased with how it has worked out with Reground. They have brought regular deliveries of bulk amounts of coffee grounds, virtually free of any rubbish, and I am already starting to see beneficial effects in my garden. Where I have placed pure coffee grounds in the garden (but not directly into soil where I am about to plant because of known inhibitory properties of fresh grounds on plant growth), the coffee has become a seething mass of earthworms. By the time the worms are finished with it, it will be that ‘black gold’ of gardening, worm castings.

Newsletter reader Bev Robertson says simply: “Reground are doing a great job.

Reground’s details have been added to our local resources page, which now includes 4 providers of free coffee grounds.

Reground are currently crowd funding for a delivery van. Go to their Pozible page and decide if you want to back them.

On the subject of crowdfunding, I’ve been backing a 60 second salad maker on Kickstarter. If you are backing any interesting food-related projects, tell us about it.

Extreme composting

In February, Marina Bistrin gave a presentation at Eltham Farmers’ market on ‘extreme composting – including weeds, prunings, etc in your compost. She has now kindly provided her notes for the website. Here is how she introduces the topic: “If you have the time and space at your place to compost the contents of your green bin, it’s a great thing to do. You can compost everything, from the easiest to the most difficult weeds, logs etc. It makes fertile, nutrient-dense compost, especially if you include the weeds. It lessens the work that your Council has to do with picking up green waste and transporting it to sites in the countryside that will do the composting (also, the compost that you buy back from Council often includes woody waste in the mix which results in a less nutritious compost). Finally, dealing with your weeds can be fun and a great children’s activity (I think squashing with rocks is especially enjoyable!). Why are weeds good for your compost? Weeds have a lot of leafy matter full of minerals and many deep-rooted weeds mine minerals from deep in the soil that your veggie plant roots can’t reach and that have been washed down out of the top layer. The weeds bring these nutrients up to the surface in their leaves, which you can then compost. Many weeds are also part of herbal medicine, and some are classed as tonics because they have so much nutrition in them. The difficulty with weeds and prunings is that some can re-grow in your compost and therefore need to be treated differently.” She then goes on to discuss the various methods of killing plants. Read Marina’s notes.

Warranwood Food Swap

The Wonga Park Food Swap has moved to Warranwood Primary School and is now called the Warranwood Food Swap. The contact person is Kirsty Bishop-Fox ( The swap will continue to be on the 3rd Sunday of the month; however, due to Easter, it will be on the 4th Sunday during April.

Some pictures of newsletter readers

In Guy and Susan’s garden In Robin and Paul’s garden

Open farm day

Open farm day, which will take place on Sunday, 2nd April, is your chance to visit working farms and meet local farmers. This year’s participating farms come from Nillumbik, Whittlesea and the Kinglake Ranges. More details should be available in next week’s newsletter but, in the meantime, you can check their Facebook page.

Darebin Community Grants: the community support program is now open

Both cash grants and venue hire subsidies are available. The priority areas include “proposals that promote and encourage the establishment of community gardens”. Applications close on Monday, 24th April. Two information sessions are being held: Thursday 16th March, 10am-midday, Shire Hall, 286 Gower Street, Preston; and Thursday 30th March, 6-8pm, Council Chambers, 350 High Street, Preston. For more information, visit

2017 Whitehorse Sustainability Awards: nominations now open

The award categories include ‘kitchen garden’. For more information, visit or contact Kate Smyth by phone (9262 6159) or email.

Hurstbridge Sow & Grow Garden Club

The Hurstbridge Sow & Grow Garden Club meet on the 1st Tuesday of each month, 7.15-9.15pm, at Hurstbridge Community Hub. Each month, they have a speaker. Their schedule for the rest of 2017 is:

  • 4 Apr: Ryan Young on habitat gardening.
  • 2 May: Attila Kapitany on succulents.
  • 6 Jun: Vaughn Greenhill on landscape design – working with nature.
  • 4 Jul: Pete the Permie on berry fruits.
  • 1 Aug: Jan Morris on protective garden accessories.
  • 5 Sep: Maria Ciavarella on thrifty gardening.
  • 3 Oct: David Redfern on natives grown at Cranbourne – suited to our local area.
  • 7 Nov: Arja Toivanen on taking cuttings (hands-on propagation workshop).
  • 5 Dec: Mark Ludlow on bonsai; Christmas party.

I would just like to highlight the 3rd October talk (David Redfern on natives grown at Cranbourne – suited to our local area): when my wife and I were planning the 2016 plantings in our garden, we went on a free, guided tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne. The focus of the tour was precisely the same as that of the 3rd October talk, namely to provide us with a list of possible, native plants that would suit where we live. The resulting list was about 60 species long, from which we eventually chose around 30 to actually plant. The whole exercise was really helpful to us.

The Nillumbik Garden Club meet on the 1st Monday of each month, starting at 7.45pm, at Metzner Hall within the St. Vincent’s Care precinct in Eltham. They don’t, however, publish a forward schedule of speakers and topics.

New events

Growing tropical and subtropical fruit in Melbourne

What: Presented by Angelo Eliades.
When: Friday, 10th March, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

What are you worth?

What: Become a part of a community of cooperation and solidarity in Moreland. Neeboz and SEEDS Communal Garden are identifying and mapping all of the individual, organisational and community assets of Moreland with the aim of developing and strengthening creative, autonomous and locally-rooted ways of meeting basic needs. This workshop will take place alongside and following the SEEDs Garden Food Swap.
When: Saturday, 11th March, 11am-1pm.
Where: SEEDs Communal Garden, Brunswick.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Maxine by phone (0431 368404) or email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Become a junior chocolatier

What: In a 45 minute ‘parent-free zone’, children aged 6–12 years can learn from their chocolatiers how to make their very own chocolate creations. Includes personalised badge, chef’s hat and apron, graduation certificate plus take home three chocolate creations to enjoy.
When: Saturday, 18th March, 9-9.45am; Tuesday, 4th April, at 9-9.45am, 10-10.45am, 11-11.45am, midday-12.45pm, 1.30-2.15pm, and 2.30-3.15pm; Wednesday, 5th April, at 9-9.45am, 10-10.45am, 11-11.45am, midday-12.45pm, 1.30-2.15pm, and 2.30-3.15pm; Saturday, 29th April, 9-9.45am; Saturday, 20th May, 10-10.45am.
Where: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Yarra Glen.
Cost: $40.
Enquiries: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie by phone (9730 2777) or email.
Bookings / Further information: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie website.

Chocolate discovery class

What: Anyone aged 12 & above can join them for a one-hour chocolate discovery class, indulging in a range of chocolate tastings, crafting your very own chocolate bar, and delighting in six handmade filled truffles, while each is passionately explained by their European Chocolatier.
When: Saturday, 18th March and Saturday, 29th April, both 12.45-1.45pm.
Where: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Yarra Glen.
Cost: $48.
Enquiries: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie by phone (9730 2777) or email.
Bookings / Further information: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie website.

Bees – focused hands-on beekeeping course

What: This course is designed to provide beekeepers with practical advice about managing hives (including Flow Hives) in autumn and winter as well as providing an understanding of a range of specialised beekeeping topics, including bee stings, bee genetics, queen raising and replacement, exotic bee pests and diseases, purifying wax and preparing creamed honey. The course has been developed from, and is consistent with, core and elective units of Beekeeping Certificate III. A feature of the course will be its emphasis on teaching beekeeping by having students open hives themselves. Under instruction from an experienced beekeeper, and in groups of three, students will spend two hours on each day of the course doing this (weather permitting).
When: Sunday, 19th March, 9am-5pm.
Where: Collingwood Children’s Farm Apiary.
Cost: $130.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Safe preserving techniques: bottled fruit, jams, pickles & relishes

What: What you will learn: 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; morning tea with real coffee and home-baked goodies; preserving basics booklet, authored by My Green Garden; and tastings of other preserves made by My Green Garden. Learn how to preserve the seasonal abundance of 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 we 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 beautiful seasonal produce. Dehydrating is also demonstrated. They will cover the jars and lids to use, safe storage and use. The workshop will be fully hands-on, where you are involved from the processes from start to finish.
When: Wednesday, 22nd March and Thursday, 11th May, both 10am-1.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $70.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Buzz inn – bringing beneficial insects to your garden

What: Beneficial insects are good friends in the garden, performing valued services like pollination and pest control. Learn more about which insects are beneficial, and the advantages of attracting these to your garden, as well as learning how to make an insect hotel in which these good garden friends can set up house! Ian Smith, a local entomologist with a PhD in the beneficial bugs in the garden, and Katrina Forstner, a local gardener, bee enthusiast and maker of insect hotels, will combine their knowledge and skills to get you started on attracting good bugs to your garden. And while you’re learning about beneficial bugs, why not enjoy an organic herbal tea or raw organic snack from Shoku Iku – a cafe dedicated to wellness and conscious living, and offering organic, seasonal, healthy food and produce.
When: Thursday, 23rd March, 6-7.15pm.
Where: Shoku Iku, Northcote.
Cost: $10.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Setting up a community garden in Wollert

What: The Friends of Eucalypt Community Association are ready to start building a community garden. You are invited to be part of the discussions. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. For those who bake, please bring some goodies to share.
When: Saturday, 25th March, starting at 9am.
Where: BlueStone Kitchen, Wollert.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Friends of Eucalypt by email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Introduction to natural beekeeping (two-day)

What: Suitable for beginners, and ideal for the backyarder, this two-day event is designed to provide participants with the information they need to start natural beekeeping with confidence. It will cover such subjects as: boxes, equipment, legislation, choosing the location, ongoing maintenance and harvesting. It will also hive manipulations and some honey tasting. After the course, for participants who do not currently have a hive, the course organisers may be able to provide bees for your hive at no cost during swarming season. If interested, email them for an enrolment form. The event is being run by the Natural Beekeeping Group of Permaculture Victoria.
When: Saturday, 25th March and Sunday, 26th March, both 10am-5pm.
Where: Mitcham.
Cost: $200 for members of Permaculture Victoria; $250 for non-members.
Enquiries / Bookings: Claire Smith by email.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Yarra Valley Beer & Cider Festival

What: The focus of the festival will be to allow you to sample some of the finest boutique beer and cider that Victoria has to offer, with many exhibitors being close to home. Quality food stalls will be in attendance, combined with entertainment, it will be a great day out for all. The festival is an initiative by the Rotary Club of Wandin, in conjunction with some passionate community beer and cider lovers.
When: Saturday, 1st April, 11am-5.30pm.
Where: Lilydale Showgrounds.
Cost: $16.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

How to make sense of food labels

What: Tour a supermarket and learn how to read and make sense of food labels so that it is easier to make healthy choices. The tours are led by healthAbility’s qualified dietitian and open to anyone interested in healthy eating. Bookings (by phone) essential as places are limited.
When: Monday, 3rd April, 9.30-11am.
Where: Eltham.
Cost: $15 (includes a healthy shopping guide booklet).
Enquiries / Bookings: healthAbility by phone (9430 9100).
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Fermenting and infusing at home

What: Fermenting and infusing at home – sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and vinegars with The Urban Pear. Join The Urban Pear for ideas, tips and tricks for preparing fermented food and beverages at home. You will take home notes, recipes and a bottle of herb vinegar.
When: Tuesday, 11th April, 11am-midday.
Where: North Fitzroy Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Artisan pasta – fettuccini

What: What you will learn: how to make and knead egg-based pasta dough; use traditional pasta machines to roll and cut pasta; and how to use selected vegetables to make colourful fettuccini, including vegan options. What you get: morning tea, including real coffee; fettuccini to take home to cook on the day or dry or freeze for future use; and a handout covering the techniques covered in the workshop. Learn how to make pasta like an Italian! You will use age-old techniques to make a classic egg pasta, to be transformed into delicious fettuccini. Then, using the basic pasta-making technique, you will incorporate colourful vegetables to make fettuccini in a variety of colours. You can also opt to make your fettuccini suitable for vegans. Your pasta will be ready to take home to cook for a lovely meal. Instructions on how to dry the pasta or freeze it for future use will be given. Easy sauce recipes will also be discussed.
When: Friday, 21st April, 10am-12.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Olive magic – preserving olives

What: What you will learn: how to transform the raw olive into something deliciously edible; how to cure and pickle olives using a variety of different techniques; and how to cure olives and have them ready for an antipasto platter in less than a fortnight. What you get: jars of olives ready to continue the pickling process at home; samples of olives that have been prepared ready to dress and eat; recipes for the techniques covered in the workshop; complimentary tea or coffee with biscotti from the kitchen of Massaros winery; and an authentic experience of picking the olives that we will be using in the workshop. Presented by Maria Ciavarella in collaboration with Massaros Winery. Olives straight from a tree are inedibly bitter and must be cured and then pickled somehow to make them edible. In this workshop, they will cover several different techniques to cure olives, each with a different waiting – or curing – period. In order to fully experience the stages of the processes, some olives will have been partially cured before the class for you to continue the process; as well as taking home fresh olives for you to start from scratch. Tastings will be available so you can decide which style is your preferred. We will use both black and green olives. If you grow olives, bring along some samples so that they can suggest some ways to cure them.
When: Friday, 28th April and Monday, 1st May, both 9.30-11.30am.
Where: Massaros Winery, Kangaroo Ground.
Cost: $85.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Raw living whole foods with Valentina Rise

What: What you will learn: basics of raw food; make guilt free treats; and learn what super foods are. What you will get: samples of all the food they make; and recipes to take home.
You will discuss the nutritional benefits of superfoods, and how introducing more raw (natural plant-based) foods into your daily eating regimes can assist in your over-all health. Eating the right foods can help with reducing stress, anxiety and depressive states of being, increase your immunity and gut health and bring greater clarity into your lives. You will learn raw food cooking skills and get to feast on many different foods from savory to sweet healthy treats (e.g. raw pad thai, raw stir fry, raw caramel slice, raw ice cream, raw lemon slice and raw cheesecake). No refined white processed sugars or products will be used. You will gain knowledge on the best natural sweeteners and produce to use to assist in optimal health.
When: Saturday, 6th May, 3-6pm.
Where: CERES.
Cost: $70.
Enquiries: CERES by phone (9389 0100).
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events. Click here for help in how to view the calendar selectively (e.g. search for events in a given suburb).

Mar 012017

Helen’s latest home-grower interview

Helen Simpson has completed another home-grower interview, this time with Heather from Box Hill South. Here is the first paragraph: “Heather enthusiastically welcomes Guy and myself as we arrive at her front door. We are eager to see her garden due to the expanse of food that Heather grows on her suburban block and over the next hour we are not disappointed. Around the kitchen table over a cup of coffee, Heather tells us how her interest in gardening began – firstly with the influence of her father who taught her the botanical names of plants, then later on through inspiration from a work colleague, who introduced her to newsletters from Permaculture Victoria.Read the full interview.

March is Harvest Month

As discussed in the last newsletter, March is Harvest Month in Nillumbik and Banyule. We have now produced a flyer of all the month’s activities (in pdf format). Click here to view or download the flyer. As you will see, it is rather speccy.

The activities during the month are diverse, ranging from talks on food growing and processing, through open veggie gardens, to opportunities to connect with your local farmers. Click here to view an online calendar of all the events, including detailed descriptions and how to book.

There are still spaces available for four of the events on the upcoming weekend. And all four events are free! And, you can book by simply clicking the links below! So, as Shia LaBeouf would say, just do it!

The Home Harvest Feastival

The Feastival took place last Sunday and, as I can personally attest, was very successful. It was at Edendale Farm and around 400 people attended. Here is a roll call of some of the local food producers and others who contributed.

The lead organiser:

  • Kirsty Bromfield from Nillumbik Council.

The lead chefs:

Local foodies who gave presentations:

  • Daniel Russo from Wholemilk Continental Cheese Company: cheesemaking.
  • Dianne Gordon from Edendale: presentation of worm farms.
  • Hanh Truong from PoppySmack: rice paper rolls.
  • Ian Culbard from Nillumbik Council: seed saving.
  • Kat Veilgaard from Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery: companion planting.
  • Paul Gale-Baker from Urban Shepherd: wicking beds.
  • Richard Lee from KABUU: soil block veggie seedlings.
  • Steve Laurence from Edendale: chooks.
  • Yvonne Ashby: sourdough breadmaking.

Local producers who donated food:

And, of course, there were many other volunteers who helped out.

A new food swap – at Heathmont

4th Saturday of each month, 10-11.30am. At Tables Community Garden, Heathmont Baptist Church, 78 Cuthbert Street, Heathmont, 3135. Organised by Outer Eastern Permaculture Swap. Contact: Karen Cheah at by email.

That makes a total of 29(!) regular food swaps in North East Melbourne – see the website for a list and map of all 29, together with contact details for each.

How about establishing a ‘fruit squad’ in your area?

The Darebin Fruit Squad (DFS) collects surplus fruit from local backyard fruit trees in Darebin and re-distributes it to local agencies who assist food-insecure people. These agences include the Darebin Information, Volunteer & Resource Service (DIVRS), with whom they work in partnership. Since their establishment in 2013, they have collected around 6 tonnes of fruit. Whilst some tree owners simply offer their surplus fruit, others are provided with maintenance services (fertilising, pruning, etc) in return for their surplus fruit.

Based on this experience, DFS and DIVRS are now encouraging others localities to develop similar initiatives. To assist with this, they have recently published a booklet entitled Harvesting the Urban Orchard, whose aim is “to provide practical information, tools and tips that you can use in establishing your own fruit-harvesting project.” Click here to view or download the booklet.

If you would like to discuss any aspects of this, contact Martin O’Callaghan by phone (9480 8200) or email.

Darebin winemaking mentoring pilot project

The Darebin Homemade Food and Wine Festival is looking for both mentors and mentees for a pilot project that aims to match older home wine makers with younger people eager to learn this amazing traditional skill from the experts! Mentors – you will be Darebin based, plan to make wine at home in 2017 and are keen to share your skills. Mentees – you will be Darebin based and available for up to 3 sessions with a winemaker between March and May. They will photograph and record some meetings in articles to capture the connections made through the age old art of making wine. For more information and to register your interest, please contact Lee Tozzi by phone (8470 8392) or email. Applications close second week in March.

What to plant in March (click here for more details)

Here is a list:
Broad beans
Brussel sprouts
Mustard greens
Pak choy

Read Helen’s 2016 article on autumn plantings.

Ringwood Farmers’ Market is “currently taking a break”

There haven’t been any Ringwood Farmers’ Markets (aka Eastland Farmers’ Market) in 2017. The Eastland website says that they are “currently taking a break”.

Let’s talk about our city’s environment

It’s official: according to the Climate Council, 2016 was Earth’s hottest year on record. The time to act is now. Whittlesea Council is calling out to all of its residents to complete an environmental survey by 31st March. The survey should take no longer than 10-15 minutes to complete. By completing this short survey, you are automatically in the draw to win one of three prizes: 1. $50 voucher for The Environment Shop, Northcote; 2. $30 voucher for La Trobe Wildlife Nursery, Bundoora; and 3. Seasonal Regional cookbook by The Sustainable Table valued at $40.

The City of Whittlesea is also inviting community members to attend focus groups in March to express their environmental concerns. To enquire about this, please call the Sustainability Planning team by phone (9217 2195) or email.

City of Whittlesea Community Development Grants Program

Round one of this Grants Program is now open and will close on 10th April. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to groups involved in projects that build people’s skills and engage them within their local communities. The categories under which you can apply for grants include environment & sustainable living and health & wellbeing. If you have any questions, you can contact the Council’s Community Development Grants Officer by phone (9217 2397) or email.

Foodbank Victoria

As you may know, Foodbank Victoria is a major organisation whose purpose is “to source and distribute healthy food to assist Victorians experiencing hardship.” Each year, around 500,000(!) Victorians apparently receive food that came from the Foodbank. Much of this food is delivered via ‘Foodshares’ as part of the Statewide Emergency Relief Scheme. In addition, two of the Foodbank’s new initiatives are:

‘Crowd harvest’ tomatoes for Easter

People are invited to donate their homegrown excess tomatoes at any time from 30th March to 12th April. Anyone growing tomatoes in their own backyard usually produces excess. By contrast, Melbourne food relief providers are currently being faced with higher demand for emergency assistance than they can manage. Donate your excess via any of DIVRS, Preston, Liberty Church, Epping, STREAT, Collingwood or The Green @ St. Columbs, Hawthorn. They will then distribute, either fresh or preserved (as passata, chutney, sundried or dell’olio), through their food relief programs. Any questions, contact Cath Lyons (aka Tiny Trowel) by phone (0401 814679) or email.

Mac’s tip of the week

It’s time to remove (and maybe tag for next year) most of your bird netting now that your fruit has been harvested. In so doing, you may need to prune any growth that has come through the netting. In fact, why not keep going and give your fruit trees a good ‘late summer prune’ rather than wait until winter dormancy, as is more traditional. This can be particularly beneficial for stonefruit or any espaliered/trained trees where you do not want vigorous spring growth (water shoots) to ruin your desired shape. At this time of the year, wounds heal quickly and, whilst there will be some re-growth, it won’t be the vigorous, unproductive, vertical growth (water shoots) often seen after hard winter pruning. Until next time, remember: dirty hands are still good hands in 2017.

Talking with Mac earlier this week, he was raving about the garden of one of his clients, saying that it had ‘homegrown’ written all over it (established fruit trees, veggie beds, berries, herbs, chicken run, beehive, vines, etc). The house is 8-10 Zig Zag Road, Eltham, it is up for sale and you can read all about it at

Click here to view all of Mac’s tips.

Joke of the week

What do you do if life gives you melons? See a doctor, because you’re dyslexic. (Thanks to Sabi Buehler, here’s a non-food version of the same joke: Have you heard of the dyslexic Satanist? He sold his soul to Santa)

If you don’t understand this joke, have a look at this Wikipedia page. If you do understand the joke, have a look at the Wikipedia page anyway as it is rather interesting.

As you may have noticed, every newsletter always contains at least one photo. This week’s photo, of two men in fruit-themed body paint, was photographed by Claire Miller. As Claire says “I was watching a rather out there acrobatic busker act on Southbank by a Japanese gymnast calling himself Jackie Chan Chan when these two turned up and started scoring his act. They seemed related to possibly promoting Juice Boost but I can’t be certain. They were just such a bizarre addition to the crowd watching an already bizarre act that I snapped the photo. Cool body paint, though!

Some links

Karyn Knight suggests that you read the article How do we keep gardening in the face of a changing climate?.

The Urban Harvest team, who run the Box Hill South and Forest Hill urban harvests, have sent me a link to a quirky little article on three ways to save tomato seeds: fermenting, drying and burying.

New events

Palestinian cooking workshop

What: Led by nutritionist Rasha Tayeh. This workshop will take you on a sensory journey into Palestinian cuisine and look specifically at foods and herbs that support us during the transitions of autumn, as we move away from the warmer months of summer into the cooler months of winter. You will: focus on traditional herbal infusions & remedies, from selected herbs and spices used in Palestine and the Levant; and cook a delicious vegan meal and discuss nutritional benefits of seasonal produce. Participants will go home with: recipes of the meal shared on the day; a deeper understanding & curiosity for delicious foods from Palestine & traditional herbal medicine; and a jar of their personally crafted herbal infusion (optional for $8 each during the workshop, cash only). The workshop is limited to 12 spaces.
When: Sunday, 26th March, 2.30-4.30pm.
Where: CERES community kitchen.
Cost: $65.
Enquiries: Rasha Tayeh by phone (0403 843923) or email.
Bookings: Trybooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

3000acres public meet-up

What: Ever wanted to know more about 3000acres? Know of a vacant piece of land with food growing opportunities? Looking for help or guidance with starting a community food project? Bring your questions and your big ideas along to the first 3000acres public meet-up for 2017. They would love to hear any thoughts on how they can help more people growing more food in more places.
When: Wednesday, 8th March, 6-7pm.
Where: Jewell Community Garden, Brunswick.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: 3000acres by email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cool season vegetables

What: Gardener Katie Grace will talk about cool season vegetables, the best crops to sow, soil preparation and how to layout your garden for a successful harvest
When: Thursday, 9th March, 11am-midday.
Where: Heide Museum of Modern Art.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Heide Museum of Modern Art by phone (9850 1500) or email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Apple tasting at Petty’s Orchard

What: Sample the seasonal flavours of the Heritage Apple Collection. Around 15 varieties available for tasting. Limited quantities available for purchase. Orchard tour included. Bookings essential.
When: Monday, 13th March, 4-6pm.
Where: Petty’s Orchard.
Cost: $15.
Enquiries: Heritage Fruits Society by phone (0449 508318).
Bookings: Heritage Fruits Society website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Backyard chooks workshop

What: Go along and learn the basics of backyard chicken-keeping. This workshop will cover the characteristics of different breeds (in order to make a selection that suits your setting and needs) as well as the housing and care of chickens. Participants will leave with the knowledge and confidence to begin keeping chickens and producing their own free-range eggs! Facilitated by Farmer Stephen from Edendale Farm. Hosted by Earth Co-op and Murundaka Cohousing Community.
When: Saturday, 18th March, 3-5pm.
Where: Murundaka Cohousing Community.
Cost: $7.50.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Vietnamese cooking and costume show

What: Enjoy a taste of Vietnamese culture with a cooking demonstration with the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association, followed by a Vietnamese traditional costume show.
When: Monday, 20th March, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Thomastown Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Thomastown Library by phone (9464 1864) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Propagation workshop

What: Facilitated by Robin and Paul Gale-Baker from Sustainable Macleod. In this workshop you will learn how to propagate from seed (in punnets and direct sowing into the garden), cuttings and root division. If you have secateurs please bring them. If you are a beginner gardener, this workshop will help you to get started while more experienced gardeners will enjoy taking advantage of the expertise of the facilitators.
When: Sunday, 26th March, 2.30-5pm.
Where: Alice House, Heidelberg West.
Cost: $15.
Enquiries: Mikoto Araki by phone (9450 2665).
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Easter chocolate novelties workshop

What: Join Irene Williams from the Victorian Cake Decorating Society to make your own Chicken in a Rocky Road Nest. Bookings essential.
When: Monday, 27th March, 10.30-midday.
Where: Thomastown Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Thomastown Library by phone (9464 1864) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Opportunity to set up a community garden in Lalor

What: Links Community Group is looking for people who are interested in starting a community garden in Lalor. They have a pending lease application at 405 station street Lalor (right near the train station) with VicTrack. This site has 24 hour access and can thus meet the needs of those who can’t normally attend during office hours. The purpose of the group will be as much about fostering community connections as gardening so all those who are interested in cooking, preserving, sustainability, sensory gardens, providing meals for those in need, upcycling, outdoor mothers, other social groups, eating or simply enjoy being in nature are encouraged to attend. Anyone interested in participating in the community garden, either attend this event on 25th March or email Matthew Odgers or simply join their Facebook page.
When: Saturday, 25th March, 10.30am onwards.
Where: Lalor Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Matthew Odgers from the Links Community Group by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Beekeeping workshop

What: What you will learn: bee behaviour; the various major items that make up a bee hive and how to construct them; and the major tasks in hive management. What you will get: a wooden beehive frame that will have beeswax foundation inserted as part of the workshop; and a $5 discount on the book Bee AgSkills (normally $27.50, $22.50 with discount). There will be live bees and honeycomb to look at in a secure exhibition cabinet and a discussion of bee behaviour and hive management. The major items that make up a hive and their construction will be discussed. The equipment a beekeeper needs to work bees will also be reviewed. The major topics discussed will be: establishing a hive; understanding the tasks to be carried out in Spring; how to go about robbing and extracting honey; and swarm control. Participants will be limited to 8 to maintain an informal interactive format.
When: Saturday, 1st April, 9-11am.
Where: Bee Sustainable, Brunswick East.
Cost: $65.
Enquiries: Bee Sustainable by phone (9939 7301) or email.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Olive magic

What: What you will learn: improve your culinary knowledge; learn how to preserve olives; and understand and experience different techniques for preserving olives. What you will get: take home olives ready to eat; take home olives that you will continue to cure ready to eat at a later date; recipes and notes on the different techniques used; and olive preserves tasting with cheese, biscuits and wine. Presented by Lucy Marasco. Transform bitter unpalatable olives into gourmet delights! This hands-on workshop will show you a variety of different ways Italians use to preserve green olives straight from the tree.
When: Saturday, 8th April, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery.
Cost: $45.
Enquiries: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Gardening with kids

What: What you will learn: how to grow fresh produce in your own backyard and have heaps of fun doing it; how common household items can be reused in the garden; and how ‘good bugs’ can help you to look after your veggie patch. What you will get: seasonal vegetable seeds and/or seedlings to grow at home; detailed course notes; and booklet of gardening ideas and activities to try at home. Presented by Nicole Griffiths. Growing food is a great way for children to connect with the natural environment and to develop an appreciation for the food that they eat. It also happens to be heaps of fun. In this hands-on class, you will explore some easy and inexpensive ways to grow food at home, regardless of whether you have an acre of land or just a windowsill. Children (and grown-ups) will get their hands dirty with practical gardening and craft activities using recycled and re-purposed objects. By the end of the class, each student will have made a variety of goodies to grow and use in their gardens at home. The class is suitable for children aged 5 to 10 and children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Please note that the class cost covers both a child and 1 accompanying adult.
When: Tuesday, 11th April, 10am-midday.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery.
Cost: $35.
Enquiries: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Seed raising with Felicity Gordon

What: Join local permaculture expert Felicity Gordon to learn the secrets successful seed raising.
When: Tuesday, 18th April, 11.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Diamond Valley Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Dione Fisher by phone (9434 3809) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

The joy of backyard chooks

What: What you will learn: how to get started with keeping chickens in a suburban backyard; how to house and protect chooks from predators; and how chooks can be used to improve your garden and soil. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. A couple of chooks in the backyard were once a staple part of the suburban quarter acre block and their eggs a healthy part of the diet. Smaller backyards needn’t mean an end to keeping these most versatile of creatures. Join their class to find out how easy it is to keep a few hens as pets and as the ultimate garden recyclers in a sustainable household. They will cover housing, protection, feeding and varieties, as well as practical ideas on how to live harmoniously with them in your garden.
When: Thursday, 20th April, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery.
Cost: $45.
Enquiries: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Apple tasting at Petty’s Orchard

What: Their last tasting of the apple season. A selection of late-ripening apples – dessert, cooking and cider. Taste 15 varieties over a 2-hour period. Orchard tour included. Coffee and nibbles included. Booking essential.
When: Saturday, 22nd April, 2-4pm.
Where: Petty’s Orchard.
Cost: $15.
Enquiries: Heritage Fruits Society by phone (0449 508318).
Bookings: Heritage Fruits Society website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Home harvest Manningham

What: A series of presentations to be held on the last Wednesday of the month when there isn’t a ‘Smarter Living’ presentation. More specifically:

  • How to design a clean food growing system: Wednesday, 26th April, 7-9pm.
  • Garlic masterclass: Wednesday, 28th June, 7-9pm.
  • Fruit tree essentials: Wednesday, 30th August, 7-9pm.
  • Tomato masterclass: Wednesday, 27th September, 7-9pm.
  • Worm farm and composting: Wednesday, 25th October, 7-9pm.
  • Summer harvest: Wednesday, 29th November, 7-9pm.

Where: Manningham Civic Centre.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Nigel Philpott by phone (9840 9173) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
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. 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: Saturday, 29th April, 9.30-10.30am.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery.
Cost: $45.
Enquiries: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Introduction to horticulture – 9 session course

What: This is a 9-session course spread across 9 weeks. And it is only $130 for the full 9-session course! 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, a horticultural expert with twenty years’ experience. Inter alia, Justin is a lead trainer in adult education at CERES, where he has presented workshops on topics ranging from fruit and vegetable production to bush foods, and from garden design to sustainable gardening.
When: Saturday, 29th April – Saturday, 8th July, 9.30am-3pm. Also, Monday, 1st May – Monday, 3rd July, 9.30am-3pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $130 for all 9 sessions ($73 concession).
Enquiries / Bookings / Further information: Living & Learning Nillumbik’s website.

Keeping backyard chooks

What: Felicity Gordon will cover the basics of keeping chooks in your own backyard. Topics covered will include: how to set up a fox proof chicken coup; advantages of different breeds; what to feed chooks; how to keep chooks in good health; and how keeping chooks can be a valuable part of a productive food garden.
When: Saturday, 29th April, 11am-midday.
Where: Watsonia Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Watsonia Library by phone (9088 3417).
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events. Click here for help in how to view the calendar selectively (e.g. search for events in a given suburb).