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:

Nov 302022

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Henk Lustig, Laura Nix, Merrin Layden, Philip Stevenson, Robin Gale-Baker and Virginia Solomon.

Next week’s newsletter will be the last for the year.

How to grow mulberries (by Robin Gale-Baker)

[Robin has written an article for our website about how to grow mulberries. The article focuses on red (Morus rubra) and black (Morus nigra) fruiting mulberries. It does not discuss either the white shahoot (Morus macroura) – but read Jaimie Sweetman’s article on our website – or the inedible common mulberry (Morus alba), whose leaves are fed to silkworms. A summary of the article is given below.]

Before deciding to plant a mulberry, note that both the red and the black species will stain any surface under and surrounding the tree. They will also stain your fingers, but you can rub them with a wet mulberry leaf to remove the stain. The main varieties of the black mulberry in Australia are Black English and Hick’s Fancy (the latter having smaller fruit). The main variety of the red mulberry is Downing’s Everbearing.

Habit and conditions

The mulberry tree is a vigorous grower which prefers fertile, well-drained soil and a temperate climate. It does not like wet feet but needs water in summer if conditions are dry. Wherever it is planted, it is likely to be in full sun given its aptitude for quickly heading skyward, with particularly rapid growth in its first few years. Mulberries can grow up to 15 metres in height and 8 metres in width so are unsuited to small gardens. An alternative is to plant a weeping mulberry, which will grow to a height of 2-3 metres and width of 3-4 metres but can be pruned to keep it smaller. They can also be kept in pots or espaliered.


It is recommended that fertiliser be added in spring. If the leaves yellow and/or fruit drops prematurely, then that is an indication that fertiliser is needed.


This is a thorny subject with a lot of conflicting advice from experts. Generally, the advice is to prune in winter. However the tree will then grow considerably in Spring and often the purpose of pruning is to reduce the size of the tree. In reaction, sometimes winter pruning is followed by a light summer prune after fruiting but this can be either difficult or impossible if the tree has grown too high.

Personally, I (Robin) follow the advice from Grow Great Fruit in Harcourt, Central Victoria, to prune two major branches from my tree in summer as this is the time that there is little vegetative growth and pruning then will keep my tree smaller.


The best way to harvest is to spread a tarpaulin beneath the tree and shake the tree!


Mulberries only last a couple of days after harvest so use them quickly or freeze them. They can be used in pies, muffins, jam, syrup, juice, ice cream or eaten fresh.

Read the full article.

Want a job?

Oakhill Farm in Preston are looking for a Community Farmer and Volunteer supervisor, 2 days a week starting in January. Closing date: 4th December. For more information, email Leila Alexandra (

The Annie Borat community cupboard is no more

The Annie Borat community cupboard in Brunswick has closed down because the organisers have moved house.

Kevin Heinze Grow

From 5th to 22nd December, Kevin Heinze Grow are having a sale of all their plants and fruit trees at both their Coburg and Doncaster nurseries. 25% off 4 and 6 inch pots, 50% off 10 and 12 inch pots and 50% off all fruit trees. Their Coburg nursery is at 512 Sydney Road and their Doncaster nursery is at 39 Wetherby Road.

They are also trying to raise funds to develop a new cafe program at their Doncaster nursery. The cafe will provide training and support for young people with a disability and participants in the program will receive training in a range of skills, including customer service and barista skills. The new cafe will create a meeting place at the Doncaster site for the community to enjoy. You can donate online, by phone (9848 3695) or by direct bank transfer (Kevin Heinze Grow, BSB – 633 000, account number – 146 052 337).

Yarra Valley Gateway Estate (now Gateway Yarra Valley) is under new ownership

Gateway Yarra Valley in Coldstream is under new ownership. Whilst it still comprises a large, temperature-controlled hydroponic greenhouse, deli and cafe, the mix of things that are being grown and sold has changed.

In their greenhouse, which is massive, they are now growing a wide range of vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers. As was explained to me by the new owner, Philip Stevenson, when I visited, shoppers can pick their produce directly from the plants.

In their deli, they are selling food from around 9 local food producers. This puts them 6th= in the list of shops in North East Melbourne which sell the most local food. Particular highlights are Yarra Valley Dairy (try their Huberts washed rind cheese) and Cunliffe & Waters (try their caramelised fig & quince jam).

They are having a ‘hard launch’ on Saturday, 10th December, 9am-5pm. Everyone welcome.

NERP at the next Eltham Farmers’ Market

North East Region Permaculture (NERP) will have an information stall at the next Eltham Farmers’ Market (4th December). Their themes will be ‘low waste Christmas’ and ‘planet-preserving New Year’s resolutions’.

Developments in Nillumbik

Nillumbik Council wants to understand what skills or knowledge areas local landholders would be most interested to gain. To progress this, it has developed a short (5 minute) survey. Closing date: 19th December. Complete the survey.

Nillumbik Council is organising an open farm day on 18th March at Edendale. They would like Nillumbik-based farms and agricultural-based businesses to participate by having a stall, doing demonstrations, selling produce, bringing machinery or livestock, etc. If you are potentially interested, complete their expression of interest form.

‘Crowd harvest’ – seeds for Christmas

Gardeners with excess seeds are invited to send them in a Christmas card or holiday card to one of the not-for profit organisations listed below who will, in turn, either germinate the seeds, store them or distribute them to people facing crisis yet know how to start seeds. Please package the seeds in individual and labelled packages so that food relief recipients can easily take them home. The program runs from 1st December to 15th December.

DIVRS in Preston, Liberty Church at 25 Miller Street in Epping, STREAT in Collingwood or Carrington Health at Level 2, 43 Carrington Road, Box Hill, 3128. Alternatively, Tiny Trowel, PO Box 4076, Box Hill South, 3128.

More on the Age Good Food Guide Awards 2023

An inaugural award of this year’s the Age Good Food Guide Awards was the ‘Food for Good’ award, which is “an award celebrating innovation, social enterprise and sustainability while contributing to the wider community.” The winner was Abbotsford-based FareShare.

Food charity FareShare is celebrating 21 years of operation, during which time it has cooked 20 million free meals for people doing it tough. Meals are created from rescued and donated ingredients supplemented by vegetables grown on FareShare’s own urban farms. A largely volunteer workforce of 10,000 is rostered at the Abbotsford headquarters and a Brisbane facility that opened in 2018. The nutritious meals that result are distributed to frontline charities throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

What seeds to plant in November

Here is a list (see the planting guide for more detail):

Warm season veggies


Leafy greens

Mustard greens





December is not a very good planting month: arguably too late for many summer veggies and, although you can plant leafy greens such as lettuce and mustard greens, they are likely to go to seed pretty quickly.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was the Seeds of Plenty website.

Word of the month – Borborygmus

‘Borborygmus’, meaning intestinal rumbling caused by moving gas. Borborygmus is supposedly onomatopoeic – i.e. it sounds likes the thing that it describes.

Read about previous words of the month.

Proverb (or phrase) of the month

Don’t try to teach your Grandmother how to suck eggs. Meaning: Don’t offer advice to someone who has more experience than you. This phrase dates back to the early 18th Century and the words ‘suck eggs’ were sometimes replaced by either ‘milk ducks’ or ‘steal sheep’. The origin of the phrase is not clear but, according to Wikipedia, it most likely “derives from the fact that before the advent of modern dentistry many elderly people (grandparents) had very bad teeth, or no teeth, so that the simplest way for them to eat protein was to poke a pinhole in the shell of a raw egg and suck out the contents; therefore, a grandmother was usually already a practiced expert on sucking eggs and didn’t need anyone to show her how to do it.”

Read about more food-related proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

Flowers are beautiful hieroglyphics of nature, with which she indicates how much she loves us.” by Wolfgang Von Goethe.

Read more gardening quotes.

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

Smoking will kill you … Bacon will kill you … But, smoking bacon will cure it.

Read more jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Banyule’s Urban Food Strategy – kitchen table conversation; Tuesday, 6th December, 6.30-8.30pm; free; Montmorency.

Banyule City Council, in partnership with Sustain, is developing an Urban Food Strategy. At this session, local residents will discuss the Banyule urban food system and how they would like it changed. The session will be hosted by local resident Dan Milne.

Formidable Vegetable + Mal Webb & Kylie Morrigan; Thursday, 8th December, 5-8.30pm; $27; CERES.

Formidable Vegetable’s first show in Naarm/Melbourne in three years will be a family-friendly picnic/BBQ.

Gateway Yarra Valley ‘hard launch’; Saturday, 10th December, 9am-5pm; free; Coldstream.

Gateway Yarra Valley is under new ownership and is hosting a ‘hard launch’ in the lead up to the festive season. As the new owner, Philip Stevenson, says: “There’s a fresh approach to food launching in Coldstream, at Gateway Yarra Valley. Cafe and farm shoppers can pick greens, herbs, fruit and flowers directly from the plants in a temperature-controlled greenhouse – so it’s about as fresh as you can get. With a range of produce grown on-site, and local artisanal goods and other staples, Gateway is on a mission to re-introduce people to the origins of their food by connecting the community back to the supply chain. The cafe’s seasonal menu includes freshly harvested produce from the greenhouse and is the perfect place to get a taste for the fresh future.”.

Corrections and clarifications

On Saturday, 3rd December, 1-3pm, Green Karma are organising an event called Heal with Food – Dementia in Eltham. In some (but not all) previous newsletters, this event was wrongly referred to as being about diabetes rather than dementia.

In December
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Menu planning for zero waste events; Thursday, 8th December, 1.30-2.45pm; free; Chirnside Park.

Organising an event can often leave you with leftover food which goes to waste. This can pose a challenge if you want a special meal and something memorable for your guests, but you want to take a sustainable approach without filling your bin. With a little creativity and some planning, you can host an impressive event with a clear conscience, less waste and lower budget. Presenters: Kirsty Bishop-Fox of Sustainable Pathways and Tamara Russell of Karhina Textiles.

In December
Regular classes