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 300 per month.
  2. Local food producers: pages on each producer, 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 300 or so local food organisations.

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

Mar 022021

Thanks to all the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Charlotte Bartlett-Wynne, Geoff Smith, Jess Ness, Lucinda Flynn, Marjory Gardner, Robin Gale-Baker, Stuart Rodda and Vasundhara Kandpal.

Going green with Lucinda

I am really pleased to announce that Lucinda Flynn, from Hurstbridge, has agreed to become a regular contributor to both the newsletter and the website. The general theme of Lucinda’s material will be sustainable practices related to food and eating. This is a subject about which she is an acknowledged expert having run the Going Green Solutions website and shop, which sells eco-friendly products, for many years. Whilst you can buy all their products online, I would suggest that you also think about visiting the actual shop in Hurstbridge as it is unusual, interesting and a potential source of inspiration, both for yourself and for gift ideas. We are going to group Lucinda’s articles under the general heading ‘going green with Lucinda’.

Lucinda’s first article is entitled Compost bins: can you really put everything of an organic origin into them? As she says in her introduction: “We are one of those families that believes that we really can put everything that has an organic origin into our compost bins , and so our compost gets the lot. On top of the usual food scraps, we throw in natural fibre clothing, straw hats, meat scraps, hair, cotton buds, old feather down quilts, cardboard and even disposable cotton menstrual pads. But what is the actual end result? As I started to dig out our compost the other day, ready to spread it around the garden, I started discovering some residual items, and thought I’d share them with you. Our compost results are not perfect – but we are still thrilled with how much we can successfully compost.” She then goes on to discuss the end results of each of the items listed together with a photo of the end result of that item.

Read the full article.

Stuart’s small hand tool of the week – forks and rakes

It is debatable whether a hand fork is necessary if you have a trowel already along with a multipurpose tool like the delta hoe. Small hand forks serve a similar purpose to regular forks. Thus with straight-tined (aka straight-pronged) hand forks, you can dig with downward pressure to the length of the tines or more, and the tines (aka prongs) penetrate hard soil better than a trowel. For deeper cultivation, a full size fork would be better.

A similar hand tool is like a small rake, with down-pointing tips (see right hand photo below), which enables you to rake across the top of the soil, or press down while raking, to dig the soil to a depth of 10 cm or so with multiple strokes. These are great for roughing up the soil surface to kill small weeds and increase water and air penetration; do this when the soil is fairly dry and just before mulching and watering. As with trowels, a solid aluminium/alloy model is light in weight and should not break, rust or be affected by sunlight; and a moulded rubberised handle will give the greatest comfort. Stainless steel is also ok but I find that these are often flimsy and will bend or the welds will break under hard use.


Read Stuart’s other articles about garden tools.

Farm Raiser – a new farm in Bellfield

Farm Raiser is a not-for-profit urban, organic vegetable farm run by three young farmers (Charlotte, Kirsty and Patrick) on land behind Waratah Special Development School in Bellfield. Whilst not certified, they follow organic principles and don’t use any chemicals. Summer 2020/21 is their first season. They sell their vegetables in weekly mixed boxes which you can sign up for here. They deliver to the following suburbs: Alphington, Bellfield, Bulleen, Eaglemont, Fairfield, Heidelberg, Heidelberg West, Heidelberg Heights, Ivanhoe, Ivanhoe East, Kingsbury, Macleod, Northcote, Preston, Rosanna, Thornbury and Viewbank. Read their Local Food Directory page. Welcome Charlotte, Kirsty and Patrick!

More on wicking beds

Following Robin Gale-Baker’s article last week on wicking beds, Lucinda Flynn asked if she had any recommended brands. Robin’s reply: “We ourselves have converted to the corrugated beds and love them. The manufacturer is Rural Tanks and Garden Beds in Seymour and you can order them through either Bulleen Art and Garden or Nillumbik Nursery. You can also request that they come without a pre drilled outlet, and then put it in yourself at the top of the reservoir (where you want the highest water level to be).

Geoff Smith also wrote in to say that, as an alternative to corrugated beds, his company Wicked Wicking Beds, who are based in Echuca, make IBC beds and deliver to Melbourne. Each bed is supplied as a kit and includes a half tank (cleaned and cut to size), all required plumbing (inlet pipe, adjustable overflow outlet, length of slotted drainpipe, geotextile fabric) and a pallet (for extra height). Freight costs are substantially reduced if multiple beds are ordered.

Want a job?

Field Officer for the Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association. 30 hours per week for $58K pa plus Super plus travel budget. Visit farms, farmers’ markets and small businesses plus write stories and other promotional content. Closing date: 12th March. Read more and potentially apply.

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Newsletter reader Marjory Gardner is a children’s book illustrator. Her new picture book, Frankie Goes to Kindergarten, which was published this week, tells the story of a real life dog who accompanies his owner, Peta, to kindergarten. Young readers 0-5 years old will learn all about kinder as Frankie joins in reading, playing, gardening, dancing and singing. They will also enjoy searching for cheeky George the cat hiding on every page. Buy the book online. Got to Marjory’s website to see some of her drawings or to contact her.

The two pictures below are from the book. The first is the cover. The second has been chosen because of the small vegetable garden top right!


Photos from some of the recent garden tours

There have been quite a lot of garden tours recently. If anyone has any photos from any of the tours that they would like to share, email them.

In the meantime, here is one that I took at the garden of Dianne Wollaston and John Pender. From left to right: Stuart, Jane, Leo, Lauri, Pam, Jacinda, Leah, Geoff, Dianne and John.

Vasundhara’s recipe of the week – butternut dipping sauce


2 cups butternut squash, steamed/cooked
⅓ cup cashews, soaked 6-8 hours
2 garlic cloves
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
¼ cup nutritional yeast
salt and pepper, to taste

If you forget to soak the cashews, just boil them in water for 10 minutes.


Dice and steam your butternut squash until it is soft.

Add all the ingredients into your high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

Use as a dipping sauce, curry base, pasta sauce etc. Add chilli flakes, pepper, steamed spinach and other veggies as desired.

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.

The history of this newsletter and the website: 2015

This newsletter was originally started in mid 2012 by Robyn Currie, who then produced weekly newsletters for 2½ years until early 2015, when she decided to stop. My role had been largely limited to encouraging and supporting Robyn (plus putting copies of the newsletters onto the website). However, I had always viewed the newsletter as one of the most important things that Local Food Connect did and so, when Robyn stopped writing it and no one else came forward to take her place, I decided to volunteer for the role. Between us, Robyn and I have now written around 400 newsletters.

For me, the heart of the newsletter was (and is) the calendar of upcoming events. If, by advertising a local food event, we can increase the attendance at that event then that is a real, tangible achievement, with gains to both the attendee and to the organiser of the event. And that applies to any local food event, not just those organised by us or those which happen to interest us. So, from the start, I decided that I would treat all local food events equally and this is one of the things that I hope distinguishes what I do from that of many other newsletters and websites, which largely only promote their own events and select others.

The calendar of events follows similar rules to that of the Local Food Directory previously discussed: the geographic scope is ‘North East Melbourne’ and I proactively seek out events for inclusion. It took me some time to work out where to find out about all the events and I now visit around 400 websites each week to see if they have any new events listed.

By end 2015, the scope of the calendar was effectively what it is today and the standard template for the newsletters had been established. Also, the newsletter and the website had become much more closely linked, sharing the same calendar and with all the substantive articles in the newsletters being duplicated somewhere on the website.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link last week was Robin’s article on the do’s and don’ts of wicking beds.

Joke (or pun) of the week

What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Taking a bite and finding half a worm.

Read more jokes.

Upcoming events – introduction

Ringwood’s 3rd annual Local Sustainability Fair

Ringwood’s 3rd annual Local Sustainability Fair will be taking place on Sunday, 28th March, 10am-2pm at the Central Ringwood Community Centre. They are seeking more stallholders; if interested, complete their stallholder application form. They are also seeking more volunteers to help out on the day; if interested, complete their volunteer application form.

Emboldening of free events

As someone said, there is something special about events that are free. They have been highlighted in bold in the lists below.

Website calendars

By type of event: All once-off events, Cooking, Everything else, 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