Local organisations and websites


‘Crop Swapping’ has come to North East Melbourne: Yarra Valley Crop Swap is a closed Facebook group which started in December and which already has 770 members. As they say “if you have fruit, veggies, eggs, honey, crafts, plants, etc that you’d like to swap, post your offerings and trade for something you need.” Its two co-founders live in Croydon North and Wandin East. They were interviewed in the 7th April edition of The Leader.

Crop Swap Melbourne is a public Facebook group which started in February and currently has 320 members. As they say “We are building local community, reducing food waste & eating better, for less. Join us to meet your neighbours, swap excess produce and fairly barter with other like-minded people for fresh, local and delicious food, edible plants, seeds or gardening goods. (posted April 12)

‘Grow Free’ is a movement “dedicated to making our food locally grown, organic and free” and they are currently “all about growing and giving away free organic, heirloom veggie/herb/flower seedlings for people to get their garden going“. The movement started out in Adelaide but is now coming to Melbourne. One of their carts can be found at 42 Zina Grove, Mooroolbark. To find out more, either join their Facebook group or listen to a ten minute interview with their founder.

So, if you are a home grower with a surplus, you now have a plethora of options:

Vegetarian Victoria promotes the benefits of vegetarianism and provides support and information to vegetarians, vegans and the general community. They also organise social events and some workshops. (posted March 29 2017)

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). (posted March 15 2017)

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.
  • (posted March 15 2017)

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. (posted March 15 2017)

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.

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.

Bev Robertson says simply: “Reground are doing a great job.” (posted March 8 2017)

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. (posted March 1 2017)

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:

Cultivating Community is a local (Abbotsford) organisation which “offers a range of services to assist in the development of sustainable community food projects” and whose mission is “to work with diverse and low-income communities to create fair, secure and resilient food systems”. (posted February 8 2017)

MADGE is a local (Fitzroy) organisation which “researches the food system to allow people to choose food that is good for those who eat it, grow it, produce and sell it.”. (posted February 8 2017)

The Food Justice Truck is a mobile fresh food market that offers Victorian-sourced produce, grains, legumes, tea and bread at a 75% discount to people seeking asylum. It also welcomes general public shoppers, who pay local market rates. It alternates Tuesdays between Thomastown and Broadmeadows, and its next visit to Thomastown is on 14th February. Click here to watch a video about The Food Justice Truck.

The Truck is a social enterprise initiative by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) to tackle the growing food insecurity felt by the more than 10,000 people in Victoria who are on bridging visas. As such, it is part of their food support initiative, which includes a Foodbank in Footscray. The Foodbank is a free grocery store that provides fresh food to people seeking asylum and it gives out around $1 million worth of donated food donated each year. See their Facebook page.

You can donate food and goods to The ASRC Foodbank during working hours at any of CERES, Alphington Community Centre, Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre or Found Sound in Carlton. (posted February 1 2017)

Your Council’s policies on urban agriculture: In 2016, Henry Crawford, from Sustain, mapped out the plans, policies and strategies of various local councils across Greater Melbourne that relate to urban agriculture. The Councils include Banyule, City of Yarra, Darebin, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges. (posted February 1 2017)

The City of Melbourne’s Community Food Guide is a booklet for anyone who wants information about how to access affordable fresh and healthy food. ?Whether it’s affordable meals, food vouchers, community kitchens in which to cook in a supportive setting or community gardens to grow your own produce, the guide captures the services that offer these things within inner Melbourne. (posted February 1 2017)

Our Grub Hub is a buy-local initiative partnering Victorian producers with local food enterprises. More specifically, it encourages Boroondara’s cafes, restaurants and food businesses to develop ongoing produce orders with stallholders at the Boroondara Farmers’ Market. In exchange, participants are rewarded with increased promotional and marketing opportunities. Read more… (posted January 11 2017)

Some important local organisations:

Some important Melbourne-wide organisations:

Some local organisations:

Some local projects:

Some Melbourne-based individuals who sometimes run workshops:

Some Melbourne-wide or Victorian organisations:

Beales Road Farm and The Veggie Empire: Beales Road Farm started three years ago in response to the social isolation being experienced by the leaseholder of the land in Greensborough where it is based. The leaseholder, Hayden, has autism and needed to meet new community members to help him feel safe and connected to his community. Gardening was something that he was interested in. Eighteen months after it began, a small community gardening team known as The Veggie Empire’ joined the original gardeners and have helped develop the food system into a vibrant and viable local food system. (posted November 30 2016)

Victorian Pleasurable Food Education Package: Pleasurable Food Education is what the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation (SAKGF) call their food education program. The Victorian Government are subsidising the program, to reduce the cost to a school to $550. healthAbility has a further, Nillumbik-only subsidy, which reduces the cost to a school to $275 – click here for details. Schools in Whitehorse can obtain subsidies from Whitehorse City Council – email Amanda Swayn for more information. Click here to read about the program. (posted November 30 2016)

Melbourne’s vegetarian and vegan street food vendors include:

The Fitzroy Community Food Centre project: “The Fitzroy Community Food Centre (FCFC) brings people together around food. The projects offered through the kitchen help people to access fresh food, learn about growing and preparing food and also provide opportunities to share food in a spirit of conviviality. The FCFC addresses issues of food security, healthy food education and skill building, social isolation, multicultural understanding, food waste and community connectedness.” and “This innovative concept will create the first centre of its kind in Australia”. The project is being undertaken by Cultivating Community and appears to be being led by one of our newsletter readers, Peta Christensen. (posted October 12 2016)

The Kitchen Garden Program at Montmorency South Primary School offers students the opportunity to grow and harvest food from their own school garden and then prepare that food, sharing it with their class. Their established garden and kitchen facility make this both an enjoyable and a rewarding learning environment for the children in years 3-6. The continuation of the program relies on the support of volunteers. You do not have to be a green thumb or a masterchef! You will work with a small group of children guiding them with either a garden task (1 hour) or cooking from a recipe (2 hours). The program runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday over a fortnight rotation. You may want to volunteer once a week – or once a term. Note that a valid working-with-children check is required. If interested, contact either Jenna Farrington (garden) by phone (0406 738220) or Cathryn Hulme (kitchen) by phone (0419 322782). (posted October 12 2016)

east prestonA new community garden for East Preston: Darebin Council has joined with the Pavilion School in Sylvester Grove, Preston to create a new shared public space for the community to enjoy, grow food and connect with their neighbours. Located on the Pavilion School grounds at the corner of Dean and Gray Streets, the garden is in the final stages of construction. With a border of fruit trees, 15 raised wicking beds for vegetables and herbs, storage container and shelter, seating, composting bays and a children’s sand pit, the garden has been designed as a welcoming space to meet with friends and neighbours. A group of local residents has formed to take care of the garden, which they have named ‘Sylvester Hive’ (‘Sylvester’ is derived from the Latin for woodland and ‘Hive’ denotes a place where people meet and connect). The group meets regularly to discuss and agree on how the garden is to be managed, used, planted and harvested. Among the first orders of business is to purchase plants for the first Spring planting which will take place on Sunday 11 September from midday. All welcome (bring a plate for a potluck lunch). If you are interested in being involved with the garden, please contact Hendrik Falk at by phone (0420 353572) or email. (posted September 7 2016)

pantryA new community pantry in Reservoir: Reservoir Neighbourhood House has set up a community pantry as part of their support for people in need. Everyone is welcome to donate ‘in date’ pantry items for those who need a helping hand. 2B Cuthbert Road, Reservoir, 3073. (posted August 24 2016)
Read about the Whitehorse ‘Compost Mate’ program (‘Compost Mates’ is a community-run program that involves local residents, schools and community groups collecting food waste from local businesses to use as compost). If you are already part of the program, email us with your experiences. (posted August 24 2016)
warranwoodWarranwood Primary School food forest garden: Warranwood Primary School is establishing a permaculture designed forest garden which will enhance the education program and create a productive area where the children can explore the life cycles of nature. They are currently seeking funding to plant a Japanese garden, construct trellises, and plant a range of edible and beneficial shrubs groundcovers and climbers. (posted August 10 2016)
Hurstbridge Primary School’s kitchen garden: a few weeks ago, healthAbility ran a workshop on kitchen gardening for schools in Nillumbik. As part of this, they interviewed Hurstbridge Primary School. Here is a summary. In 2014, Hurstbridge Primary School joined the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation (SAKGF), whose food education philosophy is that of promoting pleasurable food education and building positive food habits through fun, hands-on learning. Since then, changes at the school include: new garden beds, compost bays and a chook pen; assigning gardening and cooking specialist roles to staff; recruiting parents as volunteers; and incorporating gardening and cooking sessions into the weekly timetable. The benefits of having students excited about the program, sharing meals cooked with the produce and gaining positive food experiences clearly outweigh the ongoing challenges with storage space, budgeting and not having a designated kitchen. If you would like to know more, contact Chris Tatnall or Diane Brown by phone (9718 2386) or email. (posted August 10 2016)

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation (SAKGF) schools in North East Melbourne: here is a list of the schools in North East Melbourne which are part of the SAKGF program, followed by a list of those who are classroom members. (posted August 10 2016)

Program schools:
Banyule Montmorency Primary School
Montmorency South Primary School
St Thomas the Apostle Catholic Primary School
Viewbank Primary School
Boroondara Andale School
City of Yarra Fitzroy Primary School
Learning Centre at Collingwood College
Yarra Primary School
Darebin Findon Primary School
St Francis of Assisi School
Westgarth Primary School
Manningham Templestowe Valley Primary School
Wonga Park Primary School
Maroondah Croydon Special Developmental School
Dorset Primary School
Kalinda Primary School
Melbourne Carlton Primary School
Nillumbik Hurstbridge Primary School
Whitehorse Kingswood College
Whitehorse Primary School
Whittlesea St Peter’s Primary School
Yarra Ranges St Richard’s Primary School


Classroom members:
Banyule Edward Street Preschool
Boroondara Auburn Primary School
Carey Baptist Grammar School
Greythorn Early Childhood Centre
Hawthorn Early Years
Trinity Grammar School
Darebin Merri Community Child Care Centre and Kindergarten
St Joseph the Worker Primary school
Manningham Creative Play Early Learning Centre
Warrandyte Kindergarten
Maroondah Eastwood Primary School
Melba College Senior Campus
Milestone Childcare and Kindergarten
The Village School
Yarra Valley Grammar School
Moreland Antonine College
Murrindindi Ellimatta Youth Inc
Middle Kinglake Primary School
Nillumbik Early Learning Centre Diamond Creek
Eltham High School
Eltham Primary School
Whitehorse Old Orchard Primary School
Orchard Grove Primary School
Our Lady’s Primary School
Roberts McCubbin Primary School
Whittlesea St Joseph’s Primary School
Yarra Ranges Lilydale High School
St Peter Julian Eymard School

Middle Kinglake Primary School garden: see the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation website for the story. (posted July 6 2016)

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your indigenous garden‘Your indigenous garden’ booklet: Whittlesea’s latest edition of its ‘Your indigenous garden‘ booklet is now available. Here’s the blurb – “with information and advice on local plants, animals, climate and soil conditions, it also includes: garden design tips; how to grow gardens that children will love; planting techniques and maintenance; plants and garden features that attract wildlife such as butterflies, frogs, lizards and birds; and tips for managing common weeds and pest animals.” Click here to download it as a pdf or, for a hard copy, contact the Council by phone (9217 2042) or email. (posted July 6 2016)

Boroondara Council’s ‘growing and sharing local food’ page contains a lot of information about community gardening in the area. (posted June 15 2016)

seedbankDo you live in Darebin and want some free seeds?
Kerrie Ludekens and the Northcote Library Food Garden are offering seeds to Darebin home gardeners free of charge. Collect them from: Northcote Library Food Garden at their working bees (next door to Northcote Library, second Sunday of the month at 10am, except long weekends); Northcote Library (32–38 Separation Street, Northcote); Preston Customer Service Centre (274 Gower Street); Kiln Cafe (85C Clyde Street, Thornbury); or the Darebin Information and Volunteer Resource Service (285–287 High Street, Preston). For more info, contact Kerrie by phone (8470 8888) or email.

Angelo Eliades has written a comprehensive article on this Free Public Seed Bank Project. (posted April 27 2016)

Some local mailing lists: the list below comprises those local newsletters that I subscribe to. Its purpose is twofold: first, to give you a checklist of newsletters that you might like to subscribe to; and, second, so that you can tell me if there are any other newsletters that I should subscribe to. In many cases, it is actually quite difficult to subscribe online so the links below are the email addresses from whom the newsletters emanate.

Three places to buy preserving equipment:

Public Fruit Melbourne’s fruit tree map: this map has been developed by someone, or some group, calling themselves Public Fruit Melbourne, but we have no idea who they are. It lists getting on for 1,000 fruit trees. For example, in Eltham it lists:

  • Loquat: behind a wooden bench in Alistair Knox Park.
  • Olive: next to the pedestrian path, Main Road.
  • Plum: large tree growing next to the corner of Eucalyptus Road and Mount Pleasant Road.

Another map of this data, with better search facilities, can be found on the Falling Fruit website. Here the data is combined with some other data, particularly about dumpster diving(!). So, for example: “Aldi Warringal (in Heidelberg): If I’m driving through, I always stop here 🙂 It’s usually full of food, including beer! Unlocked, go any time.” (posted February 3 2016)

Darebin – some useful links

u-picktrailThe ‘u-pick trail’: the ‘u-pick trail’ comprises 9 farms in the Yarra Ranges where you can pick (and then consume) fruit. (posted December 2 2015)

Food Know How – a recipe for taste, not waste: if you live in Darebin, Maribyrnong, Moreland, Whittlesea or Yarra Ranges council areas, you can, at no cost, join the Food Know How program to learn how to reduce food waste, save money and make a positive contribution to the environment. Food Know How members will have exclusive access to:

  • Free workshops to learn handy tips on preparing, cooking and storing food to avoid waste.
  • Handy tools to help reduce food waste: kitchen food caddies, menu planners, food storage guides, etc.
  • Contribute to the online Food Know How members’ recipe book.
  • Share food saving tips and ideas with the Food Know How community.

Find out more about Food Know How by email or visit their website. (posted October 7 2015)

Some Facebook pages:

  • Edendale Community Environment Farm: will keep you in touch with their upcoming activities and what the animals are up to.
  • Food Swap / Share Banyule, Nillumbik & Surrounds: it is a closed group so you have to join it and be approved. As the page description says: “There are a lot of people struggling to put food on the table. Do you have spare tins or packaged food, fresh fruit & veg, etc that you won’t use? Let’s help others in need. Nothing is too big or small … someone will use it.” (posted July 22 2015)

Hurstbridge Organic Fruit and Veggie Co-operative is seeking new families: would you like a new way of weekly shopping for your organic fruit and veggies? This is a long running co-op of local families who order and buy bulk organic fruit and veggies at wholesale prices each week. Key points:

  • Each week a selection of fruits and veggies are offered.
  • Order only what you want and need – not a price per box system.
  • Each family has a job in the co-op. They are currently seeking hosts and packers – the time commitment required is about 2-3 hours every 5-6 weeks. Hosts get the veggies delivered to their house and, using an excel spreadsheet, print off packing slips. Packers then come along and pack the veggies into boxes for members to collect. They have 5 host houses. Packing is easy and is mostly done in pairs, at the host’s house. Children are welcome but need to be supervised.
  • Ordering and payments are made via email/internet banking.
  • By using a co-op, you are supporting a great organic food industry – better for you and the planet. And with the money you save, you can continue to support the local organic shops for anything that isn’t in the selection each week, as well as other organic goodness!

For more information, contact Michelle Clayton by phone (0425 756345) or email. (posted June 3 2015)

Montmorency Primary School Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program: Montmorency Primary School is looking at recruiting new volunteers to work in their Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. As a volunteer you would assist a group of 4–5 students with either their cooking or their gardening lesson. You are not expected to be a master chef or a green thumb, but just have a willingness to help out whilst learning alongside the students and having fun along the way. If you could spare one to two hours on a Tuesday once a week or every fortnight they would love to hear from you. Gardening is 10-11am and cooking is 9-11am or midday-2pm. If you are interested, please email Keryn Johnson or phone the school on 9434 5944. (posted April 15 2015)

Permablitzs: Have you heard of a permablitz? It is where a group of people get together, usually in someone’s backyard, and build a garden, or part thereof, following a permaculture design. Check out the website for details of many upcoming blitz’s and workshops. (posted July 3 2014)

Spade and Barrow is a social enterprise that buys produce direct from farmers and sells it to cafes and restaurants in Melbourne. Read here how the organisation saved a local potato grower. (posted May 29 2014)

3000acres aims to unlock underutilised land across the city to grow food and build communities. The link for more information is here. (posted November 7 2013)

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