Dec 162015

Some date changes for Christmas and the New Year

Eltham Farmers’ Market will be on 20th December, not 27th December. There will not be an Eltham food swap during December.

The next Warrandyte Food Swap will be on 19th December, not 2nd January. This is to keep it on the same day as the Warrandyte market.

The January food swaps at Diamond Creek and Greensborough will not take place.

Cathy Romeo, winner of our random draw, has collected her prize!

You may remember that Cathy was the winner of our random draw in November and that her prize was to come to Eltham Farmers’ Market with a bag and fill it with produce of her choice. Well, Cathy came to the market on the 13th December, together with husband Chris. Here she is with some of her produce, all from local producers.

cathy3 cathy1 cathy2
The Mushroom Shed Spirli Strawberries The Cherry Boys
cathy4 cathy5 cathy6
Australian Harvest / Bio Grape Chef’s Fine Food Full bag, at last

Here is what Cathy said about the experience: “Thank you so very, very much for the prize and for the excellent newsletters, helping make a real difference to food quality and connecting people to local producers. Your wonderful contribution and vision has positive ramifications for social connections, education and economic benefit for small local producers.

The comparative costs of fruit & veggies

How do you think that the costs of the food at Eltham Farmers’ Market compare with a) the local small shops and b) supermarkets? We have now completed our second quarterly survey (i.e. Spring). For the detailed results, click here. Whilst some of these results are a bit different from those in our previous Winter survey, one thing is crystal clear: for both veggies and for fruit, the supermarket is NOT cheaper than either the farmers’ market or the greengrocer.

For an overall summary of the two surveys combined, click here.

A byproduct of the two surveys is documentation of the seasonal availability of fruit and veggies at the market. Click here.

Guy’s newsletter awards for 2015

As this is the last newsletter of the year, plus I have now been the editor for nearly a year, I thought it would be a good time to announce a few awards. Just my 2 cents.

  • Council of the year – Darebin: for their Backyard Harvest Festival (20 different events held during November).
  • Library of the year – Diamond Valley: for their free monthly talks, their community garden and their hosting of a food swap.
  • Newspaper of the year – Warrandyte Diary: for their local food-related articles in most editions.
  • Contributor of the year – Helen Simpson: for her monthly articles on how to grow various veggies.
  • Reader of the year – Lucinda Flynn: for submitting numerous items of news and for telling me what other newsletters I should subscribe to.
  • Most popular event link – sourdough bread making workshop.
  • Most popular website link – the resources page (mainly due to its section on horse manure!).
  • Most popular external link – Ripe Near Me.

Darebin – some useful links

Whilst on the subject of Darebin (Council of the year – see above), here are some useful links:

  • Darebin Food Harvest Network.
  • Darebin Fruit Squad. The Fruit Squad has recently reached the 4 ton mark. They are always looking for new volunteers to help harvest fruit or householders with excess fruit on their trees. If interested, contact Martin O’Callaghan, the Urban Food Program Leader at DIVRS by phone (9480 8207) or email.
  • Transition Darebin.

New events


Summary of all upcoming events

The list of events has now almost completely wound down prior to Christmas.

Over the balance of the year

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Dec 092015

biocharEverything you might want to know about ‘biochar’ and ‘Leonardite’

Stuart Rodda has written an article on the possibilities for using ‘biochar’ (a form of charcoal) or ‘Leonardite’ (a brown coal-like material) to improve soil quality. His research suggests that there is great potential but that neither of the materials is currently easy to obtain at a reasonable cost. Read the full article.

Editor’s note: Stuart is one of the newsletter recipients who is trying to sell produce on the Ripe Near Me website. He reports: “since your newsletter last week, I have had 3 people contact me about my home produce and they have already come around to buy some from me! You certainly have some marketing power there!

Protecting seedlings from both slaters and snails

plant collarSusan Palmer writes in to say she may have found a solution for her quest to limit the damage caused by slaters and snails without killing them. Last year, slaters started chopping down her young veggie seedlings at night, progressively devouring them over the next few days. Really irritating! Following a tip from the ABC website, she now puts plant collars (old pots with the bottom chopped out) on all her seedlings. She also puts copper tape (can be purchased from Bunnings) around the pot to deter snails. Once the seedling is well established, the collar can be removed as the tougher stems are less attractive to slaters. Since then, there has been no slater or snail damage.

Editor’s note: did you know that slaters are effectively land crabs? Or, that their ‘proper’ common name is woodlice? Or, that they are apparently called ‘butcher boys’ in Williamstown?

gingerbread housePretty as a picture

A newsletter reader who wishes to remain anonymous(!) has sent in a picture of a cake that she decorated at the Making gingerbread houses event at Mill Park Library yesterday. Is that cute or what?

Editor’s note: I happened to look look up gingerbread houses on Wikipedia. As they say, “a gingerbread house is a model house made of gingerbread.”

A large composter coming to Ringwood shopping centre

According to this Age article, Eastland Shopping Centre in Ringwood is working with Joost Bakker to install a large composter so all the organic waste from its restaurants can be turned into compost on site. The compost will be used in Eastland’s community garden.

New events

Free community meal at the Shak

What: Go and and enjoy a meal with them. Welcoming the homeless, people with dependencies, struggling families, asylum seekers, refugees, people with disabilities and anyone who just wants a good meal and a chat.
When: Saturday, 12th December, 1-3pm, Saturday, 19th December, 1-3pm and Saturday, 26th December, 1-3pm.
Where: Mill Park Baptist Church.
Cost: free.
Enquiries/Bookings: Mill Park Baptist Church by phone (9436 8797) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Thrive Christmas BBQ

What: They are having a BBQ on site at the garden to celebrate all the progress from the past year. Whether you’ve just been following progress from the sidelines or helped out during the year, they would love to have you there. Bring a dish to share or something to put on the BBQ.
When: Sunday, 13th December, midday onwards.
Where: Diamond Creek.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Peter Daams by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Generating funding and support for big projects

What: Includes speaker (Amanda Gibson from The Tree Project), workshops (e.g. on seeking corporate and philanthropic support) and resources to help make your project come alive plus information about the 2016 Annual Leadership Program. Lunch, tea, coffee included.
When: Monday, 14th December, 10am-2pm.
Where: Diamond Creek.
Cost: free.
Enquiries/Bookings: Rivers & Ranges Community Leadership Program by phone (0409 287577) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Diamond Creek Christmas lunch

What: A community lunch at the Uniting Church Hall on Christmas Day, with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere where everyone is welcome!
When: Friday, 25th December, midday onwards.
Where: Diamond Creek.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Diane by phone (9718 2035).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of all upcoming events

The list of events has now almost completely wound down prior to Christmas.

Over the next week
Over the next month

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Dec 022015

chilliHelen writes about growing chillies

Another month, another article from Helen, this time about how to grow chillies. As she says in her introduction: “Anyone who has tasted or handled a hot chilli will be familiar with their stimulant effects – increased perspiration, burning sensation in the mouth, running nose and eyes and laxative effect – dare I go any further. These sensations vary with the type of chilli and are due to the amount of the chemical compound ‘capsaicin’ contained in the chilli. This compound varies from negligible in the standard capsicum to a significant amount in the very hottest chillies. Chillies and capsicums all belong to the Capsicum genus, which contains several different species and are native to Central and South America. Numerous varieties exist – some pointy and small, others round, oval and fleshy and some look like miniature hats (e.g. the Emperors Hat or Scotch Bonnet). Colours include green, yellow, red, purple, orange, chocolate and black.” She then goes on to discuss how hot different chillies are, how to grow them, how to harvest them, common varieties and chilli heat management. Read the full article.

strawberry towerSmall space gardening – growing strawberries

Elodie writes in to say she may have found a solution for her quest to grow enough strawberries to be self sufficient without planting out half the garden. She makes strawberry towers (see the picture). Each tower holds around 35 strawberry plants. The large bottom pot is on wheels for obvious reasons but it also makes it hard for the crawling critters to get in, as does the copper tape (it acts as an electric shock barrier). There is a good layer of scoria for drainage in the bottom, with geo fabric in between the soil layer. The middle pot has its bottom cut out, so is really just a retaining wall for the next level. Coir mulch is used to hold back the soil in the pipe holes. A few sticks in the top can support a bird net draped over the whole lot.

Going Green Solutions are in Eltham during December

Going Green Solutions are going to have a pop-up shop in the Eltham Village Shopping Centre from December 2nd until Christmas Eve (they will still be open as usual in their Hurstbridge shop). For those who don’t know, Going Green Solutions sell a wide variety of eco-friendly products, including catering supplies and food & drink containers.

The RipeNearMe website – reader feedback

6 newsletter recipients are currently listed on the RipeNearMe website as either selling or giving away some produce. I have discussed the website with 4 of these 6 people over the last week. Only 1 of the 4 has ever managed to sell (or give away) any of their produce. It feels like a website that is a good (and, arguably, really good) idea in principle but which, for one reason or another, doesn’t (yet) really work in practice, at least around us. Perhaps mentioning it in this newsletter will stimulate more people to join.

New events

Cooking session & tastings with Jo Richardson, The Kitchen Therapist

What: This workshop feature TV foodie Jo Richardson, from The Kitchen Therapist. Jo’s cooking demonstration will include her tips on festive food styling and how to reduce food waste over the festive season. The workshop is free but bookings are essential. And membership of the Food Know How program is essential to participating in the workshop – you can sign up for free at the workshop itself.
When: Wednesday, 2nd December, 6.30-8pm.
Where: Preston.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of all upcoming events

The events are now quickly winding down prior to Christmas, so the lists below are much shorter than usual.

Over the next week
Over the next month

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events.