Aug 292017

Dana’s monthly ‘nutrition bite’: unpack the salt

Dana Thomson, Health Promotion Officer at healthAbility, has written her second article for the website, this time on the subject of salt in processed foods. As she says: “If it’s packed, chances are it’s packed with salt. The Heart Foundation has recently launched an awareness campaign about the excessive amount of hidden salt in processed foods. The campaign website has some great tips, recipes and campaign materials. For example, the top 10 salt shockers are: 1. bread; 2. cooking sauces; 3. ready meals; 4. processed meats; 5. dips and crackers; 6. dressings and condiments; 7. pizza; 8. cheese; 9. baked goods; and 10. Aussie favourites: baked beans, instant noodles, etc.” She then goes on to give some tips for cutting down salt intake and a host of other facts. Read the full article.

Mac’s tip of the week

With the chilly weather still upon us, hold off on tip pruning any plants that have already suffered frost damage during the past few months. As I’ve said before, damaged foliage, although brown and unsightly, will protect the growth nodes lower down. You can trim and tidy from mid September onwards.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

What seeds to plant in September

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

Warm season veggies


Perennial herbs

Vietnamese mint

Other veggies and herbs

Globe artichoke
Jerusalem artichoke
Mustard greens
Spring onions


The biggest planting month of the year. I try and plant all my summer veggie seeds in September – that way, if they fail to germinate, I can try again in October.

Helen Simpson has previously written ‘how to grow’ articles about many of the warm season veggies, namely: basil, chilli, cucurbits and tomatoes. Robin and Paul Gale-Baker have previously written about how to grow eggplants and capsicums. And Helen has written more generally about Spring veggie garden preparation.

Incredible Edible Todmorden

Some people have asked why we are calling our project to develop food gardening in Eltham, Incredible Edible Eltham. The answer is that we have taken our inspiration from Incredible Edible Todmorden. Todmorden is a town in Yorkshire, United Kingdom where the Incredible Edible project has been growing edible produce on public land throughout the town. The two founders of the project, Pam Warhurst and Mary Clear, both happen to be brilliant speakers. Here is a video of Pam giving a TED talk (13 minutes).

If you want to be kept in touch with developments of Incredible Edible Eltham, or contribute ideas, join our new Facebook group.

Community gardens in Darebin

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking to the various community gardens in Darebin. The net result is that 8 of the gardens now each have their own page on our website and have also been included on the map of where the community gardens are. Of the 8 gardens, 4 are open to the public and a further 2 have free membership.

Much of the material came from The Darebin Food Harvest Network website and I also met many of the people at a recent meeting of Darebin’s ‘Sustainable Food Leaders’. It makes a big difference when there is a person at Council who is clearly responsible for organising such meetings and websites. In this case, the person is Lee Tozzi, Darebin’s Sustainable Food Officer. Thanks, Lee!

All Nations Span Community House Sylvester Hive

Local food producer news

Backyard Honey, from Surrey Hills, currently have pure, raw natural beeswax for sale at $15 per kilo.

AVS Organic Foods, from Watsonia North, will be at the Vegan mini market at Abbotsford Convent on 2nd September.

That’s Amore Cheese, from Thomastown, and Yarra Valley Dairy, from Yering, will both be at MOULD – A Cheese Festival in the CBD on 2nd September.

‘Crowd harvest’ – Father’s Day

Anyone growing produce in their own backyard inevitably produces excess – more than one family can consume. Why not take some down to your local Food Relief provider and help those facing food insecurity and homelessness. Up until 5th September, you can drop your excess fruit or veggies at any of The Alphington Community Centre, CERES or Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre (the Facebook event provides details of opening times). Any questions, contact Cath Lyons (aka Tiny Trowel) by phone (0401 814679) or email.

Thanks for the thanks

Carol Woolcock has written in. “I would like to thank you for my prize of attending the sourdough workshop at My Green Garden in Donvale. Maria is a generous host, supplying morning tea, pizza lunch, tea, coffee and cold drinks. Anne, a sourdough guru, explained each step and walked us through making a loaf to take home, with dough ready to prove and bake at home and our own sour dough starter. I have already made a further two loaves which I took to the Eltham food swap. I understand that is another sourdough workshop scheduled for 11th October; if you are interested in ‘making your own’, I highly recommend it.

Proverb of the month

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. Meaning: One cannot accomplish something without causing adverse effects.

The earliest citation in English is a 1796 publication which translated a French quote by someone called François de Charette. Monsieur Charette led a rebellion in France and his ‘broken eggs’ were dead human beings. In 1897, The Times used the same metaphor when discussing why so many local support personnel died when the British army quashed a rebellion in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ditto a sidekick of Stalin in 1932. And ditto again by Colonel Mustard in the 1985 film, Clue (Cluedo is called Clue in North America). So, a rather macabre history, particularly given that there is nothing actually adverse in breaking eggs to make an omelette. Incidently, three different versions of Clue were released, with three different endings: in one, Miss Scarlet was the murderer; in another, Mrs. Peacock; and in the third, all bar Mr. Green.

Joke of the week

How do you make a milk shake? Give it a good scare!

Read all the jokes.

New events

Growing and eating less common veggies

What: In this workshop they will look at how to grow them less common veggies typical to Mediterranean or Asian cuisines. You will them cook them together for some soups and snacks. At the end, you will enjoy lunch from some recipes that they have prepared.
When: Thursday, 31st August, 10am-midday.
Where: Whittlesea Community Garden.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Whittlesea Community Garden by phone (9716 3361) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Taste of Thomo Food Festival

What: Go and learn about Thomastown food from the actual producers. Bertocchi, That’s Amore Cheese, Plough to Plate and many many more. See the article in The Leader.
When: Saturday, 2nd September, 10am-1pm.
Where: Thomastown Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Bees, beekeeping and healthy eco-systems

What: Peter Dyer, from Backyard Honey, will talk about bees, beekeeping and healthy ecosystems at the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre AGM.
When: Thursday, 7th September, 2-3pm.
Where: Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

FEASTival: Dehydrating fruits and vegetables

What: Learn the basics of how to dehydrate food easily and safely without preservatives with Pam Jenkins and Bev Robertson. Bountiful crops of fruit and vegetables can be home-dried for use all year and provide healthy snacks for the family.
When: Wednesday, 13th September, 6.30-7.30pm.
Where: Watsonia Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Companion planting for vegetables (two sessions)

What: Some plants are better together. Find out what vegetables and flowers can help boost each other’s immunity, have similar needs, and encourage helpful insects.
When: Saturday, 16th September and Saturday, 23rd September, both 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Brunswick Neighbourhood House.
Cost: $35 ($30 concession).
Bookings: Contact Brunswick Neighbourhood House by phone (9386 9418) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Eltham railway station wicking bed installation

What: A project has begun to develop an edible food garden on the platform of Eltham railway station, with the idea that any commuters can freely harvest the produce whenever it is ready. In the initial phase, two wicking beds will be installed. If you want to be kept in touch with developments, or contribute ideas, join the Facebook group, Incredible Edible Eltham. The wicking beds are being built on site on Sunday, 17th September, starting 9am. The builders are Paul Gale-Baker from Macleod Organic Community Garden and Paul Moreland from Bellfield Community Garden. They will need helpers on the day. Ideally, these helpers will stay the whole day but, alternatively, you could arrive and leave at any time and still be helpful. Any people who bring cordless drills with screwdriver attachments, spades or wheelbarrows will be particularly welcome! Periodically during the day, one or other of the two Pauls will give a talk about how to build wicking beds. So, if you are able to help, and/or want to see how wicking beds are built, and/or just want to say hi on the day, come along.
When: Sunday, 17th September, 9am-5pm.
Where: Eltham railway station.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Contact Guy Palmer by phone (9444 1400) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

T for Thailand with Lemongrass Thai Restaurant

What: Join them for a culinary journey to Thailand in a three-course banquet feast. Learn all about Thai culture and cuisine from owner, Michael.
When: Saturday, 23rd September, 6.30-9.30pm.
Where: Carlton.
Cost: $69.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Kombucha workshop – make your own probiotic drink

What: Presented by Shakuntla Gondalia. You will learn all the ins and outs of obtaining great gut health. This workshop will cover the history of kombucha, how to make it, what can go wrong with it, and how to fix it. You will also cover how to make it even healthier and more delicious with secondary fermentation flavours and health benefits such as detoxification, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and more. You will receive your own ‘scoby’ with starter tea and a pack of black tea, so you can get started brewing at home.
When: Saturday, 30th September, 6-7.30pm.
Where: Box Hill South.
Cost: $49.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Organic gardening for beginners (two sessions)

What: Want to grow your own healthy vegetables, herbs and fruits but don’t know where to start? Would you like to improve your family’s food security and increase your skills and garden productivity? Part theory and part hands-on, this workshop will help the beginner organic gardener develop the skills and knowledge to start a thriving edible oasis at home.
When: Wednesday, 4th October and Thursday, 5th October, both 10am-4pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $120.
Bookings: Trybooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Sensational sourdough at home

What: What you will learn: how to start your own sourdough starter; how to maintain your sourdough starter without lots of waste; and how to use your starter to make, shape and score sensational genuine sourdough bread. What you will get: recipes sheets describing all of the techniques used; a sample of active starter for you to continue to maintain at home; a loaf that you shape, ready to take home to rise, score and bake; and batch of sourdough that you have mixed, for you to take home and continue the process on to baking. Anne, from The Mixing Bowl, will take you from the basics of making your own starter, through to our low-knead technique, using ‘stretch and fold’, the rising process and then the baking. In so doing, Anne will de-bunk a lot of the ‘rules’ surrounding making a good sourdough loaf.
When: Wednesday, 11th October, 11am-3pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $98.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

FEASTival: Chinese cooking with Jenny Chua

What: Jenny Chua will demonstrate how to make three seasonal Chinese dishes, a vegetable stir-fry, noodles and dumplings. There will be audience participation and tastings.
When: Wednesday, 18th October, 6.30-7.30pm.
Where: Watsonia Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Partnering with chooks in the backyard

What: Are you interested in finding out how to partner with chooks in your backyard to help create and manage a sustainable garden / backyard farm? Topics in this workshop will include: definitions of Free Range and what you can do in a backyard; chook tractorings – what is it and how to use one in your garden; chook tractors – design options; re-claimed materials needed to make a chicken coop/tractor; chook behaviour and habits and how to utilise them in the garden; what chooks eat and where they get it from; chook feeding systems – fodder crops / slab culture / stick culture / sprouting grains; using hay as a bedding medium; managing weeds and running grasses with chooks; using chooks to make fertiliser and compost; and predator protection. Presenter: Drew Barr.
When: Sunday, 22nd October, 1-3.30pm.
Where: Templestowe College.
Cost: $47.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Herbal teas

What: What you will learn: learn about herbal teas; understand how to grow your own tea; and learn about using native plants for herbal teas. What you will get: tastings of several of the teas. Presented by Karen Sutherland, of Edible Eden Design. Herbs have been used for centuries for health benefits and one of the most common ways of taking them was through teas. Karen will guide you through their cultivation requirements and how to use them in herbal teas. Sip your way through some teas during the class to discover some new favourites, including some Australian native herbs.
When: Thursday, 26th October, 6.30-9.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.