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:

Sep 192023

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Colleen Duggan, Jaimie Sweetman, Jo Buckle, Lee Hirsh, Liz Morrigan, Maude Farrugia and Monica Ludekens.

The berries of mahonias (by Jaimie Sweetman)

[Jaimie Sweetman is Head Gardener of the Edible Forest located on the Yarra Valley Estate in Dixons Creek. Tours of the Edible Forest, often led by Jaimie, take place on Fridays and Saturdays – read more and book your place on a future tour.]

There are around 70 species of in the Mahonia genus. All have berries which are edible but extremely sour.

Some mahonias, such as Mahonia aquifolium, have the common name of Oregon grape and originated in North America. The Native Americans would probably not have eaten these berries as they didn’t have access to sugar but now they can make a tasty dessert by mashing the berries in a bowl and adding sugar and milk. At the Edible Forest, we dehydrate our berries and put them in tea blends as they are really high in vitamin C.

The mahonia in the photos below is Mahonia napaulensis.

The yellow flower spikes appear in May and early June and their colour they really does stand out in Winter. The berries are ripe in early spring (i.e. now). The best thing about mahonias is the unusual time that they it flower and fruit when not much else is flowering or fruiting.

Mahonia are very spiky. So, if you want a living fence that has the potential to keep out deer or unwanted guests, they are potentially your solution.

Some species reach up to three metres in height but can be contained to a smaller size by pruning.

Read more of Jaimie’s articles about unusual edible plants on our website.

More on hot composting

Last week, Alice Glenn asked for suggestions or offers on hot composting bays at local community gardens that she could visit. Lots of you responded, including Colleen Duggan, Jo Buckle, Liz Morrigan, Maude Farrugia and Monica Ludekens. Thanks, everyone!

Jo Buckle’s response included a number of interesting points:

Jo has kindly sent in a couple of photos of her composting bays. The left hand photo shows the bays running along the inside of her fence, with the hole through which her Sharewaste colleagues push through their food scraps above the right most bay (above the cat, which is apparently called Bertie). The right hand photo shows the hole from the street side of her fence, together with a mural and instructions for how people should push through their food scraps.


Something for you to read

Why do bean plants develop white spots on their leaves, and is it a problem? by Angelo Eliades.

Quattro formaggio pie (by Julia Busuttil Nishimura)

Julia, who is from Fitzroy North, developed this recipe as a way of using lots of little bits of cheese leftover in your fridge as part of Sustainability Victoria’s I Love Leftovers Challenge.

Serves 4-6.

You can use 2, 3 or 4 cheeses. Just make sure that one of the cheeses is a melting cheese, like mozzarella or provolone.


For the filling:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
3 tablespoons mascarpone or pure cream
2 eggs (1 for filling and 1 for egg wash)
325g mixed cheeses, such as fontina, taleggio, provolone, mozzarella, comte, parmesan
a handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper

For the sour cream pastry:
400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
200g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
100g full-fat sour cream
iced water, as needed


To make the sour cream pastry:

Combine the flour and a good pinch of salt in a large bowl or on a work surface. Toss the butter through the flour to coat then, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it is pebbly. You want to rub the butter into flatter pieces rather than into something that resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the sour cream and, with a gentle touch, bring the pastry together. Sprinkle over some iced water, as needed, if the dough is a little dry. Shape into a rough square, wrap in baking paper or place into a container and refrigerate for 1 hour until firm.

To make the pie:

Pre-heat your oven to 180degC. Line a large round baking tray with baking paper.

Warm the extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the onions with the thyme and a pinch of salt and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft and beginning to colour. Transfer to a bowl.

Whisk one of the eggs with the mascarpone or cream in a small bowl and add to the onions.

Grate or crumble the cheeses into the bowl along with the parsley. Mix well and season to taste.

On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough in half and roll out in half to a 28 cm round, 3-4 mm thick. Drape the pastry onto the prepared tray. Tip the filling onto the pastry base and spread it out, leaving a 4 cm border. Roll out the second half of the pastry dough, then drop it over the filling. Press the pastry edges together and use your hands to crimp the edges towards the pie, sealing in the filling. Make a small hole in the top of the pie to allow the steam to escape.

Whisk the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the egg wash all over the pastry. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45- 50 minutes, until the pie is golden. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

The Melbourne ‘Local Food Connections’ community radio show

This upcoming Sunday’s episode will feature Virginia Solomon talking about suburban homesteading. Listen on 3CR (855 AM) on Sunday morning, 10-10.30am, by tuning into either the station (855 AM) or its livestream.

Audio recordings of previous episodes are available on their website.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was The Darebin Fruit Squad’s free citrus tree pruning workshop on Saturday, 14th October, in Bundoora.

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

A man decides that he wanted to make his own honey, so he purchased 100 bees from his local beekeeper. When he got home ,he counted his bees and discovered that he actually had 101 . Being an honest man, he called the beekeeper back to tell him that he had taken one too many.

That’s ok,” the beekeeper told him, “the extra one is a freebee.

(Submitted by Lee Hirsh.)

Read more jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ and other food markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Not food-related but interesting

Generating one’s own energy for both home and travel; Thursday, 28th September, 7.30-9.30pm; Eltham,

Guy Palmer [Editor: yes, that’s me!] first installed a battery-based solar system in 2013, the main aim being not to use any grid electricity for most of the year. In 2019, he bought an electric car, the main aim being to utilise his surplus generated energy. In this presentation, Guy will talk about the battery, the electric car and how the whole thing works together to minimise his external energy footprint. Organised by Nillumbik Climate Action Team. At Platform 3095, 965 Main Road, Eltham. Just turn up.

Malahang Community Festival; Sunday, 12th November, 10am-4pm; free; Heidelberg West.

Featuring: entertainment by local and First Nations performers; circus workshops; art workshops; face painting; live reptiles; basketball tournament and soccer clinics; tai chi and zumba sessions; scouts rope bridge and sport try outs; food and drink trucks; and a community BBQ. At Malahang Reserve, Oriel Road, Heidelberg West. Just turn up.

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Reducing food waste at home; 3 occurrences on Wednesdays, 11th October, 25th October and 8th November, each 5-7pm; free; Preston.

The workshop will highlight ways to extend the life of seasonally-available produce and ways to put commonly-discarded parts of a plant to good use. Organised by Oakhill Food Justice Farm.

Archie Rose x Cheese Culture x Moon Dog pairing experience; Thursday, 12th October, 7.30-9.30pm; $84 ($42 per hour); Preston.

5 rums, 5 cheeses and 5 beers will be matched together. Jointly hosted by Moon Dog Brewing, Archie Rose and Cheese Culture.

Backyard beekeeping basics; Saturday, 11th November, 11am-1pm; $80 ($40 per hour); CERES.

The session will cover: protective clothing and occupational health and safety; hive components and assembly; bee biology and seasonal management; legislation; diseases and pests of bees; extracting honey; inspecting hive for disease; purchasing hives; and other products from the hive. Presenter: Ashton Edgley-Ashton.

Setting up a worm farm; Saturday, 11th November, 2-3.30pm; free; Edendale.

Learn how to set up a worm farm and the easiest methods to manage and care for these most hard-working of creatures. This workshop will cover both the theory and practice of worm farming in a household setting. It will be useful for those wishing to recycle household food waste in order to produce worm products for use in the improvement of soil in gardens and pot plants. Discounted worm farms will be available for sale on the day.

Introduction to horticultural permaculture (4 sessions); consecutive Wednesdays starting 15th November, 10am-2.30pm; $50 for all 4 sessions; Edendale.

To be eligible for the government subsidised fee, you need to be either a permanent resident and/or an Australian Citizen/New Zealand Citizen and not enrolled in mainstream secondary school. This practical, hands-on course will give you an understanding of what permaculture is and how it can be applied in both a home garden setting and a commercial setting. Tutor: Justin Calverley. Organised by Living & Learning Nillumbik.

In September
In October
In November
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Tasty meals; Sunday, 29th October, 2-3.30pm; free; Ivanhoe.

Julia, from Green Karma, will demonstrate a range of handy hacks such as turning your leftover rice into a veggie burger.

Pasta making class with Piera; Saturday, 11th November, 10am-1pm; $140 ($47 per hour); Thomastown.

Learn how to make the dough from scratch and how to shape the pasta. You will learn how to make orecchiette, garganelli and maccheroncini. You will also learn how to make two sauces (alla norma and quattro formaggi). At the end, enjoy the pasta you have made together with a class of wine. Presenter: Piera Pagnoni.

Mozzarella, burrata and stracciatella cheese making; Saturday, 11th November, 10am-3pm; $240 ($48 per hour); CERES.

You will learn how to make mozzarella, burrata and stracciatella cheeses. You will take home what you make. Presenter: Kristen Allan.

Vegan cooking Italian style; Sunday, 12th November, 10am-3pm; $120 ($24 per hour); CERES.

You will be shown a selection of vegan dishes with an Italian flavour and you will finish with a feast. The menu: napoli sauce, gnocchi, ricotta , arancini, risotto, mushroom florentine sauce, bechamel sauce and tiramisu. Presenter: Nase Supplitt.

In September
In October
In November
Regular classes