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 182022

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Angharad Neal-Williams, Anne Shea, Ben Wrigley and Holly Gallagher.

A visual demonstration of the importance of good soil

Anne Shea has sent in a photo which clearly demonstrates how the quality of the soil used can dramatically change how well plants thrive.

The photo shows two boxes of lettuce. The right hand box is filled with a vege mix from Bulleen Art and Garden. The left hand box is an old bin planter into which, when Anne had some seedlings left over, she popped them in to save waste.

Both planters have been fertilised with seasol.

Have you planted all your Winter veggies yet?

Kevin Heinze Grow now have their Winter veggie seedlings available for sale. The punnets have all been grown by participants with disabilities without using chemicals, inorganic fertilisers or seed treatments. They include beetroot, brocolli, bush peas, carrots, kale, kohlrabi, radish, mustard, snap peas, snow peas and sweet peas. All punnets are $3. They are available from both their Coburg (512 Sydney Road) and Doncaster (39 Wetherby Road) nurseries.

If you go to their Doncaster nursery, try and have a look at their community garden.

The Darebin Fruit Squad

The Darebin Fruit Squad is back up and running after a couple of tough years of Covid restrictions.

They are now looking to hear from householders who have any types of fruit trees, even if they aren’t fruiting at the moment. They will record your details and then contact you when the appropriate season rolls around to ask whether you have any surplus that you would like to donate. If you do, they will send the squad around to harvest it and then distribute it via the DIVRS food relief program.

For more details or to sign up, contact Holly by phone (9480 8207) or email (

Yet more on repair cafes

Ben Wrigley has written in to say that their inaugural Montmorency repair cafe was a success. They first repaired a hard rubbish collected sofa, then a wicker easy chair with a local weed growing outside in the garden, then they re-upholstered and refurbished a dining chair. There were also lively discussions on darning, sewing and collar turning. Their next repair cafe on this coming Friday will include clothes repair and the art of sashiko (a form of Japanese embroidery). Friday, 20th May, 5-7pm at Monty Hub, 1 Mountain View Road, Montmorency.

Mac’s blast from the past – bare-rooted trees

[On this day in May, 5 years ago, Mac McVeigh wrote the following words for this newsletter]

It’s time for you to start thinking about what bare-rooted fruit trees you want to purchase this year, from whom, and when. Mid June is the best time to buy bare-rooted trees but the risk is that your favoured source might have sold out by then, or at least sold their best specimens. So, perhaps you should try and place a forward order with them.

When you purchase, you must not let the bare roots dry out. Some suppliers will have covered the roots with damp newspaper or sawdust (a process called ‘heeling in’), or even have them potted up in potting mix for you – this means a lot and is good. Otherwise heeling them in yourself can do the trick for a time but it is still best to get them into the ground asap. And don’t sit them in a tub of water until you get around to them – even though dormant, the roots still need access to air.

Hard pruning in the first year leads to more vigorous growth and better framework. So, try and get the tree pruned at the time of purchase by someone who knows what they are doing. Note that, if the tree in question is an apricot, the pruning should be deferred until leaf sprout to avoid gummosis.

When planting, look at the colours of the root system and trunk to try and discern the line where the tree was previously planted up to. If in doubt, don’t plant too deep.

Finally, note that bare rooted almond trees are notorious for not coming out of dormancy. So, keep your receipt!

Every newsletter needs a good picture

The image right is part of a 1970 exhibition called Staple cheese (a race) by a Swiss/Icelandic artist called Dieter Roth. The exhibition comprised 37 suitcases filled with cheese, one of which was opened each day. Its title was a pun on the word steeplechase, the idea apparently being to see how far the cheeses slipped and slid (aka raced) as they rotted. Over time, the stench grew and permeated out of the building. The exhibition became overrun with maggots and flies but the artist declared that the insects were, in fact, his intended audience!

The four cheese used were brie, camembert, cheddar and limburger.

A new article from Angelo Eliades

How to save tomato seeds for planting next year.

Read more of Angelo’s food-growing articles.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was the periodic table of fermented foods (this is the pdf version, which is the highest resolution and most readable).

Word of the month – Mageirocophobia

‘Mageirocophobia’, meaning fear of cooking. According to Wikipedia, it can be related to any or all of fear of spreading illness, fear of the cooking process, fear of recipes, fear of food knowledge or fear of food intake.

Read about previous words of the month.

Proverb (or phrase) of the month

A sledgehammer to crack a nut. Meaning: to use disproportionate force to overcome a minor problem.. Sledgehammers are large hammers with metal heads weighing 5Kg or more. They are often used in demolition work and are obviously totally inappropriate for cracking a nut. The first use of a phrase about using a sledgehammer to deal with something small was in an American newspaper in the late 19th Century (to kill a fly), with the first nut entering the picture a few years later (to crack a peanut), followed in the early 20th Century by gnats (to kill a gnat). The precise phrase a sledgehammer to crack a nut first appeared in print in the 1950s and could have been a re-wording of either the peanut or the gnat version.

Incidentally, the video with the most ever MTV video music awards is Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel. Gabriel lay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming the video one frame at a time and said later “I was thinking at the time, ‘If anyone wants to try and copy this video, good luck to them.'” Watch the 5 minute video.

Gardening quote of the month

To get best results you must talk to your vegetables” by Prince Charles.

Read more gardening quotes.

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

Have you heard about the restaurant on the moon?

Great food, no atmosphere.

Read more jokes.

Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Herb planting workshop; Sunday, 5th June, 10-11.30am; $55 ($37 per hour); Park Orchards.

The workshop will start by potting up herbs into terracotta pots and labelling them to create your own potted herb garden. Then there will be a walk through the community house garden and an opportunity to choose suitable herbs to make a tisane hot herbal drink.

Wicking bed workshop; Saturday, 11th June, 11.30am-1pm; $15; Macleod.

Learn: how to decide if wicking beds are right for you; what materials are required; how to assemble wicking beds; how to care for your wicking beds once constructed; and what to grow in a wicking bed. Presenter: Paul Gale-Baker.

Beginners guide to backyard chickens; Thursday, 16th June, 7-8.30pm; free; Mill Park.

Find out about housing options, feeding and choosing the right hens for the suburbs.

Marvellous mulch – dive into the magic; Saturday, 18th June, 1-2.30pm; $59 ($39 per hour); Ringwood.

Learn about the magic of mulch, take away the mystery of what types of mulch to use and find out why you need to care about mulch.

Growing veggies in a wildlife garden; Saturday, 18th June, 1.30-3.30pm; free; Forest Hill.

The topics to be covered will include: the garden as an ecosystem for both wildlife and food growing; integrated weed management; integrated pest management; inviting beneficial wildlife into your veggie garden; and common garden pests and management strategies. Presenter: Richard Rowe. Following the workshop, there will be a guided walk and talk of Strathdon House’s garden compound.

Winter fruit tree pruning workshop; Saturday, 16th July, 9am-1pm; $75 ($19 per hour); Edendale.

Winter is the best time to prune most deciduous fruit trees. Join Justin Calverley and learn how to best care for your fruit trees for health and to maximise your yield for next season. Bring your gardening gloves, a hat and a pair of secateurs.

Much ado about compost; Saturday, 16th July, 10-11.30am; $59 ($40 per hour); Ringwood.

Go along and find out the dirt on composting. What can be composted, how and what other support and sustainable alternatives are available.

Organic propagation of vegetables and herbs; Saturday, 16th July, 10am-3pm; $115 ($23 per hour); CERES.

What you will learn: improve your gardening skills; how to produce new plants from seeds, cuttings and division; and seasonal timing for growth. Presenter: Olivia Caputo.

In May
In June
In July
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Vegan pizza making masterclass; Sunday, 12th June, 11am-1pm; $106 ($53 per hour); Northcote.

Edoardo Nicita, from Shop 225, will demonstrate how to create pizza dough from scratch and you will then make margherita and nutella dessert pizzas. At the end, you will eat the creations with your new found foodie friends!

Food for mind and gut; Saturday, 16th July, 10am-3pm; $115 ($23 per hour); CERES.

What you will learn: foods which make your brain brighter; how to incorporate brain powering foods easily into your daily diet; and foods that can build and protect your gut microbiome and clear brain fog. Presenter: Melanie Leeson, from Mettle + Grace.

In May
In June
In July
Regular classes