Feb 082017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

If you have not done so already, all your fruiting crops would probably appreciate another dose of potash or other fertilisers high in Potassium. This will maximise your plants’ flower production and fruit quality (and also strengthen cell walls to fight off disease). Note that regular watering over summer can often leach out some nutrients that have not already been taken up by your plants. Until next time, remember: dirty hands are still good hands in 2017.

Click here to view all of Mac’s tips.

Home Harvest FEASTival – volunteers wanted

They are seeking volunteers for the Home Harvest FEASTival at Edendale, with the majority of the food prep and cooking taking place at Eltham High School.
If you or a friend have an interest in cooking then maybe you’d like to spend a few hours in the kitchen on Saturday, 25th or Sunday, 26th February with their caterers Michelle and Duang to help prepare the harvest meal. If being in the kitchen isn’t your thing, they also need volunteers to help set up, serve and pack away. Everyone who volunteers gets a ticket so it’s the perfect opportunity to be involved in the FEASTival if you don’t have any produce to donate. For more information or to volunteer, contact Kirsty Bromfield by phone (9433 3206) or email.

Local government networking

Local Food Connect recently facilitated a meeting attended by several local council officers and community health professionals working on food-related projects. In attendance were Nillumbik and Whittlesea council officers plus healthAbilty (formerly Nillumbik Health) staff and some Local Food Connect committee members. The aim was to exchange information, to learn from each other’s experiences and to establish potential areas for co-operation. This was the first time such a gathering has been organised locally and all attendees agreed that it was time well spent. The discussions covered a broad spectrum of local food-related activities and uncovered areas of potential co-operation ranging from food relief to tourism. It was agreed to meet again in three months’ time, when it is hoped to extend the attendance to other adjacent municipalities.

Vale Glenda Lindsay

Glenda passed away in January. Chris Ennis writes: “Over many years, Glenda was a vocal and practical supporter of both CERES and Cultivating Community. She was also a founding member of both the Fitzroy Urban Harvest Food Swap and MADGE. Glenda was a singer and was never afraid to sing in public. At a large public meeting, Glenda famously roped reluctant Yarra councillors and staff into a sing-a-long about tropical fruits and climate change after she and her gang of guerrilla gardeners gained approval for City of Yarra residents to install raised garden beds in their parking spots instead of cars. Intelligent, caring, driven and generous to a T, she threw open her own backyard to neighbours, creating a community garden known as ‘Luscious Lane’. Our hearts are with her family.

Cultivating Community is a local (Abbotsford) organisation which “offers a range of services to assist in the development of sustainable community food projects” and whose mission is “to work with diverse and low-income communities to create fair, secure and resilient food systems”. MADGE is a local (Fitzroy) organisation which “researches the food system to allow people to choose food that is good for those who eat it, grow it, produce and sell it.”.

Another zucchini recipe

Italian veggies sott’olio (pickled veggies under oil) by Maria Ciavarella. Maria will actually be demonstrating how to make Italian veggies sott’olio at Eltham Farmers’ Market on Sunday, 12th February.

Joke of the week

Thanks to the newsletter reader who wrote in to say that last week’s yam joke was “first rate content”(!). In his honour, this week’s joke is: If fruit comes from a fruit tree, where do eggs come from? A poul-tree!

The Eltham Glasshouse has just changed hands

Since my survey of Eltham cafes a couple of weeks ago, The Eltham Glasshouse has changed hands and will not be open again until around end February.

Some links

Someone asked if I knew of any free booklets about seed saving. Voila: A Guide to Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship & Seed Sovereignty.

Sabi Buehler recommends the 1 million women blog on food waste.

Chris Chapple recommends the article Take Three Zucchinis and Call Me in the Morning: The Power of Produce Prescriptions, which is about getting American healthcare providers to write prescriptions for fruit and veg.

Amelia Robinson recommends the article The Ultimate Compost Guide: Sure Fire Ways to Improve Plant Growth.

New events – Harvest Month

Following the Home Harvest FEASTival on Sunday, 26th February, March is Harvest Month in the Nillumbik and Banyule Council areas and many ‘tasty’ activities will be taking place. Click here to view the calendar of all the events.

The events include guided tours of a number of local gardens. I might even see you at mine(!) on 5th March.

Robin and Paul’s garden

What: Robin and Paul’s garden is a highly productive back and front yard fruit, berry and vegetable garden designed on permaculture principles. It features raised bed, wicking beds, chooks running in the orchard, a 3 bay compost system and a mudbrick potting shed.
When: Sunday, 5th March, 10-11am, again at 11.30am-12.30pm, and again at 1-2pm.
Where: Macleod.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Guy and Susan’s garden

What: Guy and Susan bought their property in 2012, with the garden being their main reason for choosing it. Their first move was to turn the tennis court into a veggie patch: a regular and flat area, with no trees, and easily irrigated. The veggie patch now comprises 24 raised beds. 9 of these are in crop rotations (a 5-year rotation of legumes-brassicas-roots-cucurbits-solanums and a 4-year rotation which excludes brassicas). 3 are for perennials (asparagus, globe artichoke and rhubarb), 3 are for herbs, 2 are for things that Guy wants to grow that Susan doesn’t(!), and the final 2 are overflows/spares. Fruit trees are planted throughout the 1¼ acre garden, some in a purpose-built set of terraces. There are currently 47 fruit trees, 34 berries, and 11 vines. Collectively they cover most of the types of fruit that are commonly grown in Melbourne. All the veggies and fruit are irrigated, mostly from tanks. Other points of potential interest: 15 different species of eucalypt; a battery-based solar system which means they are effectively off grid for 8 months of the year; various artwork, mostly by local artists; and a fox-proof chook house and run.
When: Sunday, 5th March, 11am-midday and again at 1-2pm.
Where: Eltham.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Stuart’s garden

What: Stuart’s garden is the result of 35 years of planting and soil improvement to grow fruit and vegetables for his own family’s use in a setting of trees and grassland on about 1 acre. The land was an orchard before subdivision so the soil had already been worked to some extent. Stuart started with permaculture ideas but up until he retired he didn’t have a lot of time to devote to the garden, so he is still trying out ideas and learning about things like companion planting and soil improvement (so essential in Eltham). He doesn’t like to use a lot of town water so he is trying to deepen the soil and use tanks, mulching and making water-holding amendments to make the most of rainfall and the little tap water he does use. He doesn’t use sprays or chemical fertilisers (any more) so, to boost fertility, he recycles, and brings in manures, lignite (brown coal), wood shavings, stone dust and, most recently, coffee grounds. He also plants green manure crops in autumn. When something does succeed, he usually ends up with surplus which is then preserved for his own use. Any further excess is distributed to family, friends, the localfood swap and through RipeNearMe, or it is given to people from whom he gets manures etc. His selection of fruit and vegetables is designed to maximise the harvesting season and provide many varieties.
When: Sunday, 5th March, 11am-midday and again at midday-1pm.
Where: Eltham.Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Success with a dehydrator

What: Learn the basics of how to dehydrate foods easily and safely without preservatives. Bountiful summer crops of fruit and vegetables can be home-dried for use all year and to provide healthy snacks for the family.
When: Tuesday, 14th March, 7-8pm; Thursday, 16th March, 10.30-11.30am; and Thursday, 23rd March, 11am-midday.
Where: Various libraries.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Macleod Organic Community Garden tour

What: Macleod Organic Community Garden was established in 2015, making productive use of two disused tennis courts at Macleod College. It is gardened communally by members of Sustainable Macleod. It is a water conservation garden with an emphasis on water efficiency and (eventually) self-sufficiency. There are a numerous garden areas including 8 wicking beds, a citrus orchard, a ston fruit and apple orchard and an orchard of miscellaneous fruit trees plus kiwifruit and passionfruit trellises. There is also an extensive bank of crate tanks, a 6 bay compost system and a 7 metre polytunnel.
When: Saturday, 18th March, 2-3pm and again at 3-4pm.
Where: Macleod.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Duang and Rob’s garden

What: Situated on an 18-acre bush block, Duang and Rob compost horse manure for their garden soil and use only rainwater from the dam to irrigate their productive garden. The compost heap is about 150 metres from the vegetable garden on the tennis court, while the dam is about 100 metres away. There are around 40 fruit trees and 40 apple crates containing a large variety of seasonal vegetables. The produce supports Real Food Catering, with any surplus going to a local cafe.
When: Sunday, 19th March, 11am-midday, again at 12.30-1.30pm, and again at 2-3pm.
Where: Research.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Monsalvat garden tour

What: Enjoy a guided tour of this extensive and productive garden including the orchard, lower garden and nursery areas.
When: Sunday, 19th March, 11am-midday, again at 12.30-1.30pm, and again at 2-3pm.
Where: Eltham.
Cost: $10.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Beales Road Farm

What: Beales Road Farm is a privately operated community food system conducted under a landshare arrangement. They grow a range of seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs that are sold via a basket scheme at a local office and via farmgate sales.
When: Monday, 20th March and Monday, 27th March, both 11am-midday.
Where: St Helena.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Growing garlic

What: Learn how to successfully grow your own big, juicy organic garlic with this talk from Helen Simpson, local horticulturist.
When: Tuesday, 21st March, 7-8pm.
Where: Eltham Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar.

The Sugarloaf story

What: Isabella Amouzandeh, and her partner Warren McKimmie, from Sugarloaf Produce, are building a new horticulture enterprise on organic principles in Strathewen. The farm is on the site of the stonefruit orchard which was in the family for four generations until it was burnt out on Black Saturday.
When: Wednesday, 29th March, 7-8pm.
Where: Eltham Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Thrive Community Garden open day

What: Thrive community garden is situated on disused flat land quite close to the Diamond Creek. The first planting of fruit trees was in winter 2015 and other beds of berries, seasonal vegetables and a native area have followed. The community working in the garden consists of a dedicated group of keen gardeners, environmentalists and community minded people who want to see Diamond Creek respond to a changing world and thrive in it. They have been working to create a communal space producing fruit, vegetables and gardens for people to enjoy. In addition, a core goal of the garden is to provide an opportunity for people to meet and discuss something they love, namely gardening.
When: Sunday, 26th March, 10am-3pm.
Where: Thrive Community Garden, Diamond Creek.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Chute Street planter boxes open day

What: Take a walk along Chute Street and see how their 9 wicking beds are surviving the summer. These wicking beds were established in 2014 by the Diamond Creek Traders with support from Nillumbik Shire Council, the NICE fund, Local Food Connect and Thrive Community Garden. The aim is for the community of Diamond Creek to be able to grow, pick, share and eat fresh, locally grown herbs, vegetables and small fruits from the boxes as well as to add some colour to the otherwise urban looking street scape. The beds are looked after in a sustainable manner by a small group of volunteers (with occasional assistance from the students at Diamond Creek Primary School) utilising permaculture principles where possible.
When: Sunday, 26th March, 1-2pm.
Where: Chute Street, Diamond Creek.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Creating and maintaining a wicking bed

What: In an area of poor shallow soil, low rainfall, wind and thirsty native trees, wicking beds can be the answer for people wishing to have a productive and beautiful garden. Wicking beds have lower water requirements and potentially less maintenance as they include a reservoir of water which wicks up to hydrate the roots of the plants above. Join Pam Jenkins to learn more about creating and maintaining these potentially useful additions to your garden.
When: Sunday, 26th March, 2-3pm.
Where: Chute Street, Diamond Creek.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Preparing your garden for winter and improving your soil

What: Learn the best ways to prepare your garden for winter using tried and proven organic gardening techniques. Angelo Eliades, from Deep Green Permaculture, will explain how to prepare your garden to maximise its productivity over winter, and the various strategies you can use to improve your soil over the winter period for better productivity in the following warm season.
When: Sunday, 26th March, 3-4pm.
Where: Thrive Community Garden, Diamond Creek.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Local Food Connect by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

New events – other

Apple tasting at Petty’s Orchard

What: Their first tasting of early apple varieties: taste 15 varieties over a 2-hour period. Orchard tour included. Coffee and nibbles included. Booking essential.
When: Sunday, 12th February, 5-7pm.
Where: Petty’s Orchard, Templestowe.
Cost: $15.
Enquiries: Heritage Fruits Society by phone (0449 508318).
Bookings: Heritage Fruits Society website.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Just Eat It (film)

What: Just Eat It is a documentary film about food waste and food rescue. We all love food. As a society, we devour countless cooking shows, culinary magazines and foodie blogs. So how could we possibly be throwing away 50% of it?
When: Wednesday, 15th February, 6.45-8.30pm.
Where: Carlton.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar.

CERES permaculture drinks

What: Practice your social permaculture skills and hear from some inspired and inspiring practitioners while drinking beers (or wine or soft drink) and meeting new friends. Two speakers: Kat Lavers and Justin Calverley.
When: Thursday, 16th February, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: CERES.
Cost: $10.
Enquiries: Sieta Beckwith by phone (9389 0180) or email.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar.

The Chocolate Case (film)

What: This film follows the incredible journey of three intrepid Dutch journalists, who after uncovering child slavery in the cocoa production chain, try to persuade large corporations to end the use of child labour. Rebuffed by the industry, and after several failed attempts at self-imprisonment, they set out on a mission to develop the first ‘slave-free’ chocolate bar called ‘Tony’s Chocolonely’, now one of Holland’s leading brands.
When: Friday, 17th February, 8.45-10.45pm.
Where: Cinema Nova, Carlton.
Cost: $20.
Enquiries: Cinema Nova by phone (9347 5331).
Bookings / Further information: Cinema Nova website.

Raw (film)

What: Cancer survivor Janette and her partner Alan are an incredible demonstration of what is possible with the human body. This story follows the two raw food champions, in their 60’s, on an adventure around Australia, as they break and set world records by running 366 consecutive marathons on a raw plant-based diet. A story of Raw emotion, Raw determination and Raw diet!
When: Friday, 17th February and Saturday, 18th February, both 6.30-8.15pm.
Where: Cinema Nova, Carlton.
Cost: $20.
Enquiries: Cinema Nova by phone (9347 5331).
Bookings / Further information: Cinema Nova website.

H.O.P.E – What You Eat Matters (film)

What: A startling and moving documentary uncovering the effects of our typical Western diet, high in animal-based foods. It contrasts the limited interests of the pharmaceutical and agricultural industry with the interests of living beings on this planet. Featuring Jane Goodall as well as health and environmental experts, H.O.P.E shows the benefits of plant-based diets on both people and planet.
When: Sunday, 19th February, 12.30-2.30pm.
Where: Cinema Nova, Carlton.
Cost: $20.
Enquiries: Cinema Nova by phone (9347 5331).
Bookings / Further information: Cinema Nova website.

Making bee hotels for native bees

What: The City of Melbourne Park Rangers will be setting up their trailers to show you how to construct various types of bee hotels for Melbourne’s native bee populations. Come along and learn about the world of bees.
When: Wednesday, 22nd February, 10.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Carlton.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Jim Szonyi by phone (9658 9189) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Wastecooking – Make Food, Not Waste (film)

What: David Groß, a fun-loving and gregarious food activist and cook, travels through five European countries in a van that runs on vegetable oil, creating beautiful dishes out of food that would otherwise go to waste. A delicious way to fix a broken food system.
When: Friday, 24th February, 6.30-8.15pm.
Where: Cinema Nova, Carlton.
Cost: $20.
Enquiries: Cinema Nova by phone (9347 5331).
Bookings / Further information: Cinema Nova website.

The environmental chef with Ryan DeCoite

What: What you will learn: about the food industry; making environmentally sustainable food choices; and how to prepare your own low-impact lunch. In a world full of amazing indulgent recipes and glossy cooking television programs, ‘the environmental chef’ encourages participants to understand where their food comes from as well as creating awareness of what effects food industries have on the ecological environment that sustains us. Learn about the food industry with practical and interactive examples, create your own environmentally friendly lunch and take home ecologically sustainable recipes and information. The workshop will combine cooking with environmental consciousness. It is suitable for participants aged 12 and over with an interest in the environmental impact of where their food comes from. Lunch will be provided.
When: Thursday, 6th April, 10am-3pm.
Where: CERES.
Cost: $70.
Enquiries: CERES by phone (9389 0100).
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the rest of February
During March

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events. Click here for help in how to view the calendar selectively (e.g. search for events in a given suburb).