Nov 302013

Join a vibrant food culture, growing and eating local

Covering all matters food across 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. Join now.

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

The purpose of this website and associated newsletter is twofold: to promote all aspects of local food around North East Melbourne and to make people around North East Melbourne feel part of a local food community.

The material is centred on 5 databases:

  1. Upcoming local food-related events: all the upcoming events of various types, around 400 per month.
  2. Local food producers: pages on each of around 130 producers, both farmers and makers.
  3. Local community gardens: pages on each of the 60 community gardens in the area
  4. Local food swaps: details of the 30 food swaps in the area.
  5. Local food justice organisations: including ‘food is free’ sites, free food distribution organisations and free community meals.

These databases are brought together into an overall Local Food Directory which contains pages for each of 300 or so local food organisations.

In addition, there are articles written by a variety of local people on:

Jan 312023

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Emma Wasson, Gavin Shaw, Holly Gallagher, Jess Ness, Joanne Van Eeden, Kayte Kitchen, Lynn Wallace, Melissa Houselander, Nathacha Subero, Robin Gale-Baker and Vasundhara Kandpal.

Key local indigenous pollinator plants (by Robin Gale-Baker)

Attracting pollinating insects into our gardens is something that most gardeners take seriously. Many gardeners, however, know more about ‘cottage plants’ (i.e. plants originally imported from Europe and other parts of the world) than our local indigenous plants.

Here’s a list supplied by Paul Davis, the Banyule City Council Biodiversity Adviser, of local indigenous plants which are known key pollinators. Not only will they attract bees and other pollinating insects but they will also increase diversity.

Austral Indigo Indigofera australis
Carpobrotus modestus Inland pigface
Chrysocephalum apiculatum Common everlasting
Chrysocephalum semipapposum Clustered everlasting
Dianella admixta Black-anthered flax-lily
Dianella amoena Matted flax-lily
Goodenia ovata Hop goodenia
Pelargonium australe Austral storks-bill

These plants can be incorporated into any garden whether it is an Australian native one or an orchard or veggie garden or even a verge garden. They are hardy plants, capable of growing in poor conditions, require little water, don’t need fertilising or management for pests, and provide habitat for birds, insects and small animals. They also have attractive forms and flowers.

For suitable plants, check out the following nurseries:

Abbotsford Farmers’ Market is no more

Melbourne Farmers Markets have announced that the Abbotsford Farmers’ Market has been closed permanently. It is not clear why. This is obviously sad news.

They have also announced that there won’t be any Carlton Farmers’ Markets during February.

What’s the best gin in Australia?

Well, according to recent World Gin Awards, the answer is Hillmartin Distillery’s rare dry gin. Hillmartin Distillery are a father daughter duo (Gavin and Amy Shaw) who are based in Plenty. Amongst other places, you can buy their gin at Eltham Farmers’ Market (on the 1st or 3rd Sundays) and at Nillumbik Cellars (in Diamond Creek). Congratulations Gavin and Amy!

Live near Preston and want to volunteer?

DIVRS in Preston is looking for an experienced propagator to join their propagation team. DIVRS grow food for food relief across four gardens in Darebin and do almost all their own propagation on site at 285 High Street, Preston. This is a volunteer role on Tuesday afternoons, 1-3pm, and will involve some general gardening as well. They’re always looking for gardeners of any level of experience to volunteer across the week at their various sites. For more information or to join the team, contact Holly Gallagher by phone (0402 353287) or email (

Do you know?

Joanne Van Eeden has just build her own polycarbonate hot house for growing vegetables all year round. But using it is more complicated that it first appears. Does anyone know of a good book or article on hot house growing for her to read? Email your replies.

Yes, you did know (sort of!)

Last week Kristine Hendley asked if anyone had experience in growing fruit trees in rocky areas or, alternatively, in wicking beds.

Re rocky areas, I (Guy) responded: “This is a common problem for many of us. I dig a large hole (using a mattock if necessary), at least twice the diameter of the root ball, and fill it with a mixture of potting mix and the original clay soil/rock. Near the centre of the hole is pure potting mix, with the proportion that is clay soil/rock then increasing as one moves away from the centre. The idea is to avoid any sort of discontinuity of soil composition which would then act as a barrier for the roots.

Re wicking beds, Kayte Kitchen responded: “I have had a fair bit of success growing fruit trees in IBC wicking beds in various versions. All dwarf trees but a full range. We grow all of our produce in IBCs now as we have large eucalyptus trees and clay soil that affected our in-ground gardens. You are welcome to come and have a look anytime, I live in Greensborough.

Every newsletter needs a good picture

Some banana dolphins.

Newsletter reader suggestion

Lynn Wallace suggests that you read this article about restoring native grasslands. She thinks that the article is fascinating and notes that it is skewed towards urban backyard situations. It includes a list of native plants that spread readily from seeds and rhizomes.

Some single use plastics are now banned in Victoria

As per the State Government’s website, the ban covers single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, plates and drink stirrers plus food service items and drink containers made from expanded polystyrene.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was Angelo’s article on how to stop mint from spreading in the garden.

b33e661f-c100-4ebe-9ffa-847952e0da4e.jpgJoke (or pun) of the week

Submitted by Olaf Falafel: I swear it was easier to split the atom than to cut a pickled onion on a plate.

Read more jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Note that not all the community garden events below may be happening as some gardens take the month of January off.

Not local but interesting

Growing lions mane mushrooms at home; Saturday, 4th February, 10-11.30am; $60 ($40 per hour); Kensington.

You will mix up your own 4kg bag of lions mane mushroom. Suitable for both beginners and seasoned growers.

Corrections and clarifications

  • Growing food in small spaces (9 sessions); on 9 consecutive Fridays, starting 3rd February, 9.30am-1.30pm; free; Fawkner.
  • The title of this event is Growing food in small spaces, not growing plants in small spaces as previously stated. Sorry Melissa!

    Early bird heads up

    Permaculture design (80 hours); Tuesdays and some Saturdays starting in June; $595; Ringwood.

    A comprehensive introduction to permaculture principles, design and practices. Read more and register your interest.

    Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

    Tea and chocolate pairing experience; Sunday, 5th February, 2-3.15pm; $75 ($60 per hour); Brunswick.

    Taste around 10 different types of teas and chocolates. Discover how you can pair tea and chocolate according to a flavour tea wheel by contrasting, complementing or enhancing. Match teas with chocolates and brownies from Ratio Cocoa Roasters.

    Bio-craft workshop; Friday, 10th February, 6-8pm; $81 ($41 per hour); Brunswick.

    Awareaway, I Am Flora and Brunswick Daily have teamed up to bring you a workshop where you will learn about sustainability, regenerative products and circular processes. You will craft your own hanging planter or pair of earrings from a locally grown gourd whilst chatting about sustainability. Wine, kombucha and light snacks will be served.

    Urban food gardening group (9 sessions); Tuesdays, starting 7th February, midday-4pm; $120 ($3 per hour); Coburg.

    Learn the foundations of growing plants by working in a fun and relaxed environment. Organised by Reynard Street Neighbourhood House.

    Introduction into wines; Saturday, 11th February, 3-5pm; $32 ($16 per hour); Northcote.

    They will take you through the basics of wine, from how to taste to the processes behind your favourite drop. The session will include 8 very different wines to demonstrate the difference in grapes and wine making techniques.

    Prepare for autumn planting; Thursday, 16th February, 11am-midday; free; Greensborough.

    Find out what to plant and how to prepare your garden for your autumn vegetables.

    Bio Gro tour; Thursday, 23rd February, 9am-midday; free; Doncaster.

    Bio Gro is the facility which will recycle Manningham’s food and garden waste (FOGO) into compost. See first-hand how your food and garden waste will be processed and ask any questions along the way. The tour will include bus transport to and from the Bio Gro organics facility in Dandenong South.

    Learn to make wine (3 sessions); Saturdays, 25th February 9am-midday, 11th March 9-11am and 25th March 9-11am; $50 ($7 per hour); Eltham.

    Learn about the art of winemaking using a fruit available throughout the year – raspberries (the frozen kind). The techniques taught can be applied to all types of winemaking. Follow the instructors as they take you through the process and, over the sessions, you will make your first wine. Enjoy samples of different wines that can be made from local produce along the way. Organised by the Eltham & District Winemakers Guild.

    The Prosecco Festival; Saturday, 25th February, 11am-8.30pm; $70; Abbotsford.

    There will be around 30 different proseccos to taste and all tastings are included in the ticket price. There will also be food and music.

    Introduction to permaculture; Sunday, 26th February, 10am-midday; free; Coburg.

    Learn the basics of permaculture with Karen Sutherland, from Edible Eden Design.

    Whittlesea Garden Expo; Saturday, 4th March and Sunday, 5th March, both 9am-3pm; $10; Whittlesea.

    Guest speakers: Millie Ross, Chloe Thomson and Nathan Stewart. Around 40 stalls, including plants, flowers, pots, garden tools, garden design and garden art. Food, music and drinks.

    Weight management – a calorie density approach; Sunday, 5th March, midday-1.30pm; free; Eltham.

    Jenny Cameron will talk about using a calorie density approach to losing weight and strategies to avoid falling into the ‘pleasure trap’ of our modern food supply. Organised by Green Karma.

    Healthy eating and nutrition; Wednesday, 8th March, 2.30-3.30pm; free; Doncaster East.

    Learn how to energise your day through healthy eating habits, basic nutrition principles and how you can get the most out of your meals every day. Organised by Pines Learning.

    Basic inoculation workshop; Saturday, 11th March, 10am-midday; $87 ($44 per hour); Alphington.

    You will get a hands-on go at inoculating your own mushrooms. You will also be given a tour of the mushroom farm. Take a clean 2-10L bucket with a lid and some gloves. Organised by The Mushroomery.

    In-depth mushroom cultivation workshop; Sunday, 12th March, 10am-4pm; $165 ($28 per hour); Alphington.

    You will learn the growing methods for oyster mushrooms, including inoculation, sterilisation and be introduced to basic mycology. You will undertake practical sessions and learn how to start master cultures. You will also be given a tour of the mushroom farm. Take a clean 5-10L bucket with a lid and some gloves. Organised by The Mushroomery.

    Open Farm Day; Saturday, 18th March, 10am-4pm; free; Edendale.

    Locally based farmers, producers and growers will be on hand to share their wisdom about local farming in the Green Wedge, with demonstrations, workshops and a range of local products to buy. There will also be farm animals, street performers, live music and face painting. The participating businesses will include Apted’s Orchards, Balloonaversal, Billy Van Creamy, Buttermans Track Winery, Hildebrand Grove, Naturally Goat, Oz Tibet Kitchen, Provenir, Quists Coffee, The Basin Backyard, The Snake Hunter and Valley Rural.

    The Herb and Chilli Festival; Saturday, 18th March and Sunday, 19th March, both 10am-5pm; $27; Wandin.

    This festival will celebrate all things related to herbs and chillies. There will be stalls, demonstrations, talks, tastings, music and dance. There will be around 80 exhibitors.

    Introduction to permaculture (2 sessions); Sundays, 19th and 26th March, 10am-3pm; $120 ($10 per hour); Coburg.

    Learn permaculture fundamentals in this hands-on course, combining concepts and practices of sustainability, gardening, horticulture, ecology, community development and design thinking. Organised by Reynard Street Neighbourhood House.

    In February
    In March
    Regular events

    Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

    Cooking class (8 sessions); Wednesdays, 8th February to 29th March, 1-3pm; $160 ($10 per hour); Ringwood.

    Shabina will teach you how to shop for, and use, whole, nutrient-dense ingredients to create meals that are both good for you and taste good. You will learn how to balance flavours, textures and colours. You will also learn how to read nutrition labels and how to plan meals that are tailored to your dietary needs.

    Laksa + Hanoi spring rolls masterclass; Thursday, 9th February, 6.30-9pm; $128 ($51 per hour); Brunswick.

    Linh and June will show you have to make both laksa and Hanoi spring rolls. You will also get to take home a sample of their laksa paste.

    Sour pickle M.O.B.; Friday, 3rd March, 6.30-8.30pm; $95 ($48 per hour); Fitzroy North.

    They will pile the table high with pickles, make the brine, set out the spices and have 3 litre jars ready. Go along and talk about lacto-fermented pickles – versus heat and vinegar – eat a pickle and take home your own 3 litre stash. M.O.B. stands for ‘mingling over bacteria’.

    Passata making day; Saturday, 4th March, 10am-1.30pm; $100 ($29 per hour); Bundoora.

    Get ready for a fun day. The class will include a step-by-step demonstration of how to prepare the passata sauce.

    Home made miso M.O.B.; Friday, 10th March, 6.30-8.30pm; $145 ($73 per hour); Fitzroy North.

    They will have the beans soaked and cooked, the koji and salt weighed, jars ready and music on. You will mash and squish and roll and throw – ready to go home with 1.5 litres of miso that can be ready to eat within 3 months – ferment for longer if you like. Enjoy its taste over different periods of fermentation. M.O.B. stands for ‘mingling over bacteria’.

    Advanced sourdough bread; Saturday, 11th March, 10am-12.30pm; $80 ($32 per hour); Park Orchards.

    You will make a seeded sourdough loaf, demonstrated by Nadine. There will be samples of different sourdough loaves to try, including a fruit loaf and olive and herb. You will need to bring a container to take home your dough to bake at home. Organised by Park Orchards Community House.

    Fermented foods with Sarah; Saturday, 11th March, 10am-1pm; $165 ($55 per hour); Mount Evelyn.

    You will learn how to create a variety of fermented foods, from sauerkraut to kimchi, and how to store them for maximum flavour and nutrition. You will also gain an understanding of the science and health benefits of fermentation, and how to use it for a variety of dishes. You will take home some kimchi (vegan option available) and pineapple vinegar.

    Sourdough hot cross buns and spicy kvass; Sunday, 12th March, 11am-2pm; $270 ($90 per hour); Fitzroy North.

    Michael James will show you how to make sourdough hot cross buns. They will not be baking them at the class as they need prove overnight but they will give you some of the sourdough starter to take home and some buns to bake. Sharon Flynn will then make Easter kvass using stale-ish HXBs, charing then brewing them. Go home with a jar of kvass to ferment.

    Sweet treats; Sunday, 12th March, 6-10pm;$165 ($41 per hour); Bundoora.

    Learn how to make a number of different traditional Italian desserts, namely ciambelle (traditional Italian donuts), cannoli filled with Italian cream, and amaretti (almond biscuits).

    Recipes to reduce food waste; Wednesday, 15th March, 10-11.30am; free; Ringwood.

    This workshop will cover: ideas for using random leftovers so nothing in your fridge goes to waste; tips for waste free packed lunches; how to get your portions right to avoid waste; and how to make a quick and easy zero waste meal out of leftovers.

    Preserving with Maria; Saturday, 18th March, 10am-1pm; $165 ($55 per hour); Mount Evelyn.

    You will make jams, pickles, sauces and bottle the best of locally produced organic fruit. You will learn how to sterilise bottles to keep your preserves safe and understand why these techniques work. You will also gain an understanding of how different preserving methods can make a significant difference to the flavour and quality of the food. You will take home a jar of each preserve made.

    French patisserie – fraisier; Saturday, 18th March, 10am-2pm; $135 ($34 per hour); Lower Templestowe.

    Tish will pass on her techniques for making fraisier, which is a dessert made with fresh strawberries, genoise sponge, diplomat cream and strawberry syrup. A sandwich lunch is included.

    Tomato passata making workshop; Sunday, 19th March, 10am-1pm; $20 ($7 per hour); Watsonia.

    You will learn how to process tomatoes, sterilise jars/bottles and how to seal them. You will then have a pasta lunch. Take along some glass jars with lids (if you have some).

    Deluxe Asian seafood class; Sunday, 19th March, 10am-2.30pm; $200 ($44 per hour); Panton Hill.

    Presenter: Kelly Meredith from Under The Pickle Tree. It is the sauces that give Asian food their flavour and by the end of class you will be able to make punchy Asian sauces. The menu: grilled scallops or mussels with a XO sauce; whole deep fried Australian barramundi with a three flavoured chilli tamarind sauce and deep-fried Thai basil; tart green mango salad with a rice vinegar dressing and crispy fish floss; and choo chee prawn curry.

    Vietnamese egg roll – cooking class; Tuesday, 21st March, 10-11.30am; $28 ($19 per hour); Doncaster East.

    Learn the art of making crispy, crunchy and savoury Vietnamese egg rolls.

    Gozleme and baklava workshop; Tuesday, 21st March, 6.30-8.30pm; $65 ($33 per hour); Balwyn North.

    Arzu will teach you how to make gozleme and baklava from scratch. Turkish coffee will be served. Includes ingredients. BYO some containers (you will be going home with what you cook, usually about 1.2 kg of baklava and 3-4 gozlemes), apron and oven tray. Organised by Trentwood at the Hub.

    In February
    In March
    Regular classes