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:

May 072021

Controlling white cabbage butterfly – an important correction

Olwyn Smiley has written in: “I read with interest Robin Gale-Baker’s article last week about the possible use of American upland cress to control white cabbage butterfly. My understanding, however, is that the cress will not kill the caterpillars of white cabbage butterfly, although it will kill the caterpillars of large cabbage moths. This is a common confusion and I only happen to know about it because of a discussion some time ago on the Amateur Entomology Australia Facebook page. Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery have a page which discusses the issue.

Thanks, Olwyn, that is extremely helpful. Apart from anything else, it confirms my long held view that, in any discussions, we should use Latin names, rather than common names, for both animals and plants. This is because, unlike Latin names, common names are ambiguous, with the same common name often referring to multiple species and with particular species often having multiple common names.

In this case, it appears that the confusion arises because there are several different lepidopterans that are commonly called ‘cabbage moth’, including Crocidolomia pavonana, Mamestra brassicae, Pieris rapae and Plutella xylostella. They vary in appearance but only Pieris rapae is white in colour. All of them seem to eat brassicas (which is presumably why they are all called cabbage moths) but only some of them are major problems in Melbourne gardens, only some of them are also called ‘cabbage butterflies’, and only some of them find American upland cress (Barbarea verna) poisonous.

More specifically, it is Pieris rapae that causes the major problems in Melbourne gardens, and it is also Pieris rapae that is sometimes called white cabbage butterfly, but it is only the caterpillars of Crocidolomia pavonana and Plutella xylostella that find Barbarea verna poisonous.

So, as Olwyn says, “Planting Barbarea verna obviously won’t hurt, especially if Crocidolomia pavonana or Plutella xylostella are around, but there will be disappointment when it doesn’t live up to its reputation for killing white cabbage butterfly (i.e. Pieris rapae) caterpillars!”

I sent Olwyn’s comments to Robin and asked if she wanted to say anything. She replied: “Thanks for your interesting comments, Olwyn. While I am aware that not all cabbage moths are deterred by American upland cress, I take a pragmatic approach based on a multi-pronged strategy. While it cannot be proven that the varieties of moth in my area of Macleod are susceptible to the cress, the lack of damage to brassicas over many seasons would suggest that Pieris rapae is not strongly represented here.”

Lucinda tries making a Hello Fresh meal

[Lucinda Flynn recently made a Hello Fresh meal. To provide some context, here is how their meals work: 1. You choose a recipe. 2. They send you the pre-portioned ingredients. 3. You cook, and then eat, the meal. Below Lucinda discusses her experience.]

I must admit that I had always assumed Hello Fresh was certainly not sustainable food option; after all, how can individually packaged portions possibly be an enviro-friendly food option? Well, I recently got a discount ‘trial’ voucher and decided to check it out.

Overall, I was more impressed with it than I expected and, as usual, I discovered that the answer to the above question depends on the situation and what it is being compared to.

We chose the veggie meals, and they were amazing – on average about 75% vegetables, with a small amount of carbs and protein – super healthy and plenty of food for any appetite. The recipes were interesting and easy to follow. There was a lot of packaging, and I hated that, but I could not help thinking that, in the right situation, it could still be less wasteful. For example:

  • To replace regular take away meals for someone with little time or cooking skill – the recipes are easy and quick, the waste would be less overall and the health so much better.
  • If you were cooking for one – my father-in-law is always saying that it is hard to shop for one without over buying due to the size of portions – so this could reduce food waste.
  • If you are inexperienced in cooking and in food in general – this method would not only avoid you creating food waste due to buying the wrong things/wrong amount but also teach you heathy cooking along the way, which could in turn lead to your transitioning to being able to do it without the program.

Will we be using Hello Fresh again? Definitely not because we grow food, love to cook and the packaging of the small portions is scary. However, I do think that there are situations in which it could be a more sustainable option, create less food and packaging waste, and even teach people to cook healthy meals full of fresh veggies which could steer them into a packaging free future.

In the photos below, the first four are the various ingredients and the fifth is the final meal.


Read more of Lucinda’s articles on our website about sustainable eating.

Lucinda Flynn is the owner of Going Green Solutions, a local company based in Hurstbridge that sells eco-products.

What’s in season for you to buy in May?

Kayla Blackmore, who is the market manager of Coburg Farmers’ Market, says that the following is in season for you to buy in May:

  • Fruit: apples, mandarins, feijoas, raspberries, quince.
  • Vegetables: artichokes, eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potato, rhubarb, carrot, daikon.

May is the month to get excited about the new season nuts, including walnuts and chestnuts. Is there anything more evocative than the aroma of chestnuts roasting over hot coals? If you don’t own an open fire or barbeque with coals, you can roast your chestnuts in the oven. Heat your oven to 200-220 degrees Celsius. Then score each chestnut shell with an ‘x’ on top and place them on top of a cooling rack that is sitting in an oven tray. Pop into the oven and roast for 15–20 minutes. Your home will be filled with a unique and toasty aroma! Place the warm chestnuts into a tea towel and use this to roll the nuts around inside to remove the skins. Serve warm if you can.

Success at last – Brussels sprouts

My wife and I have never managed to grow Brussels sprouts successfully – the plants grow ok but the sprouts never really form. So, last year I went to Adams Farms in Coldstream to seek their advice (Adams Farms specialise in growing Brussels sprouts and supply, amongst others, Coles). They told me that they grow it as a summer crop (rather than as a winter crop, as I had been doing) and they gave me 18 of their seedlings.

The result? We planted the seedlings last November and, last week, we starting harvesting the literally thousands of Brussels sprouts that have grown: 18 plants with an average of 60 sprouts each equals 1,080 sprouts!

I haven’t yet decided what to do next season. Maybe it is only the farm’s variety that grow successfully over the summer so, to test this, I could plant other varieties in November (if I can find them in nurseries) and see what happens.

Do you know?

Swee Scott has written in: “I have some white insects appearing on my lime leaves, on my chilli plants and even on my mustard green growing in netted vegetable patch. I tried flushing them with water but with no results. I did use garlic chilli oil with water spray in the summer months with some results. Can you tell me what these insects are and how do I stop them from destroying my plants?Email us with your thoughts.


Guy’s tip of the week – saving seedlings from snails and slugs

Liana Gray has written in: “I planted out broad beans, broccoli and Brussels sprouts the other day, put down organic pellets and dusted them, and the next day they were eaten. Is there something else I can use, so my seedlings survive?

Here is my reply: “I use pots with the bottoms cut out and with copper tape around them. Snails and slugs don’t like crossing copper tape because they apparently receive something of an electric shock.

Want a job?

Diamond Valley Community Support in Greensborough is looking for someone with community market experience to support the operation of their Kingsbury Drive market, and to also be available to support their other market days. Read more and potentially apply.

Yarra Plenty Regional Library seed & harvest share program

The Yarra Plenty Regional Library service, which comprises all the 9 libraries in Banyule, Nillumbik and Whittlesea, is planning to start a seed & harvest share program in June whereby each Saturday at 10am one of the libraries will hold a Q&A session around a particular theme, the idea being to engage members of the public to learn more about growing home produce and to offer them excess seeds and harvest. They are seeking local gardeners to help out at their local libraries at some of these events. If you are potentially interested in helping out, email Dione Fisher (

Friends of Edendale

Friends of Edendale is a new friends group which will be organising activities to support Edendale Community Environment Farm inside their fence and to re-vegetate along the Diamond Creek outside the fence, as well as newsletters and meetings. All that is now needed is enthusiasm and people to help. Subscribe to their newsletter using either their online signup form or by sending them an email ( Thanks for the heads up, Sue Dyet!

The first re-vegetation activity will be at Edendale on Sunday, 30th May. There will be planting sessions organised by Melbourne Water and Nillumbik Council in both the morning (starting at 11am) and afternoon (starting at 1pm) and the Friends of Edendale will be supporting the planting – so go along!

Vasundhara’s recipe of the week – black bean patties

Serves 4-8.

Tip: make in bulk and save for later use.


2 cups boiled beans
½ big onion, chopped and sautéed
½ cup corn
½ cup capsicum
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin powder
⅓ cup plain flour
salt to taste
½ chopped coriander/parsley (optional)


Mix everything together.

Grease your hands and then shape the mixture into patties.

Bake or pan fry.

Read more of Vasundhara Kandpal’s plant-based recipes on our website.

Vasundhara is a professional cook who operates a meals delivery service called Green Karma in Briar Hill, Eltham, Eltham North and Montmorency. Read her menu and order.

A photo of a large pumpkin and a large lemon

Pauline Webb has sent in the photo right together with the following words: “The pumpkin is a Dutch crookneck pumpkin and weighed in at 4.04Kg; it is related to the butternut. The large lemon is a Eureka and weighed in at 675 grams; it is shown next to a normal sized lemon from the same tree.

And the winner is …

The delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards 2021 State Winners were announced last week. Of the 26 winners from Victoria, 1 was from North East Melbourne, namely That’s Amore Cheese.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link last week was the underpants’ experiments discussed by ABC Rural.

Joke (or pun) of the week

I’ve started investing in stocks, mostly vegetable. One day, I hope to be a bouillonaire.
Read more jokes.

Upcoming events – introduction

Website calendars

By type of event: All once-off events, Cooking, Everything else, Garden tours, Free.

By Council area: Banyule, Boroondara, City of Yarra, Darebin, Manningham, Maroondah, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whitehorse, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges.

Upcoming events – not cooking

Newly announced

Upcoming events – cooking

Newly announced
In Richmond