Nov 292023

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Anna Sanders, Jennie Ramage, Julie French and Robin Gale-Baker.

‘Hilling up’ all root vegetables (by Robin Gale-Baker)

‘Hilling’ or ‘hilling up’ of potatoes is a well-known technique for producing more tubers and preventing ‘greening’ (which is toxic to potatoes). Less well-known is that hilling up all root vegetables will lead to better produce. It will also prevent shoulder ‘greening’ of carrots.

Have you ever noticed the top of a carrot being green, particularly in situ in the row? This is caused by the carrot top growing above the soil, receiving direct sunlight and ‘greening’. The taste will be rather bitter (but it will not be toxic as potatoes are when they are exposed to sunlight). Obviously, you can simply cut the top off and use the rest of the carrot but an even better option is hilling it up instead – and then you can eat the whole carrot.

Hilling can be done in one of two ways.

  1. The first way is to create a hill or mound by hoeing the soil and pulling it up into a long, raised row. Seeds or seedlings are then planted directly into the top of the mound.
  2. The second way is to sow root vegetables in a ‘flat’ bed (i.e. a normal in-ground bed) and, once shoots emerge, soil is scraped from both sides and hilled up to cover the shoulder of the plant. The shoots should not be covered but any protruding shoulders of the veggies should.

Hilling has a number of general advantages including:

  • Providing good drainage.
  • Keeping weeds at bay.
  • Fluffing up soil, allowing roots to penetrate deeper and swell more easily so they take up more nutrients and water.
  • Protecting tender shoots from bad weather and supporting the plant’s stability in the soil.

Root vegetables are meant to fully develop underground but you may notice that they can sometimes protrude 3-4cm above the soil. This may be the result of seed that germinated just beneath (or on) the surface of the soil, or a lack of water. Protruding tops never taste good, they lack juice and have a tendency toward woodiness.

It pays to keep an eye on all root crops and, around a month after germination, check that the shoulders of your carrots, parsnips, turnips, beetroot, etc are covered. If not, or perhaps anyway, use a trowel to break up the soil either side of the rows and drag it into a mound over the tops leaving the new shoots exposed.

Then repeat your inspection every 3 or 4 weeks and hill when necessary.

Read more of Robin’s articles about veggie growing on our web site.

A Thai food experience (by Julie French)

[Julie visited Duang Tengtrirat in Thailand in July 2023 for a 10 day cooking and cultural tour. As well as being Julie’s friend, Duang is a reader of this newsletter and used to live in North East Melbourne. Julie has written up her trip for our website, with a shortened version below.]


How often do you get an invitation to be a part of a group visiting an unspoilt part of Thailand to experience an authentic taste of its food and culture, guided by a well-connected local person, passionate about her town and region? My invitation was from a good friend, Duang, and it was too good to resist. I had heard so much about her years growing up in a village in northern Thailand, especially her stories around food and learning to cook in her mother’s kitchen. Duang’s mother had recognised her daughter’s cooking curiosity and skill from an early age and Duang had grown up helping her to cook and learnt by observing what and how she cooked. She has carried those skills and love of cooking throughout her life and wanted to share this with her wide circle of friends using her mother’s traditional Thai kitchen as the base.

Duang’s 10 day cooking and cultural experience of her home town of Nan, close to the Laotian border, alternated days of cooking and learning about traditional northern Thai food with visits to places of interest in and around Nan. One of the standouts of the visits was to a farm which was an example of permaculture in practice. On arrival at the farm, the first thing that impressed was the lush picture book garden, a mix of insect attracting flowers and food producing plants grown in swales. A pond at a lower point on the farm supplied the family with fish; recycling of waste was evident from the large active compost pile; and power was generated by a small array of solar panels. The wet season was late so the surrounding fields were still dry, apart from one that had been flooded to enable at least some rice to be planted. Foraging in the flourishing food forest was followed by dinner preparation, much chopping and slicing and cooking over a coal brazier, culminating in a fabulous feast of Thai salads, charcoal grilled vegetables and fish and delicious sticky rice. It was hard to leave.

Read Julie’s full write up of the visit.

A newsletter reader tip – tomato watering (by Jennie Ramage)

Cut the bottoms out of 2 litre plastic milk containers. Place the containers upside down in a deep hole between the tomato plants, leaving around 5cm above the soil. Pack the soil firmly around the container (not too packed, but not too loose). When mulching, bring the mulch right up to the edge of the container, as well as right up to the stems of the tomatoes. It is best to place this watering system at the same time as planting the tomatoes so that you don’t disturb the roots of the plants. When watering the plants when they are young, water with a handheld sprinkler on the roots of the small plants. As the plants grow and their roots spread, and as summer heats up, fill the 2 litre containers with a handheld hose. The water then slowly seeps out of the inverted pouring hole, encouraging the roots of the tomatoes to grow deep in search of the moisture.

Growing avocados in a temperate climate

Read the article by Duncan Cocking (aka Lead, Root & Fruit), who lives in Kyneton. As with all of Duncan’s articles, the material is comprehensive.

As I can attest from personal experience, it is perfectly possible to grow avocados in Melbourne. As Duncan discusses, one important point to note is that the trees suffer from the heat of the Summer even more than from the cold of the Winter. So, young trees need protection (e.g. shade cloth) from both the cold and the harsh sun.

The Craftwork Roasting Company

Around a month ago, I mentioned that I had stumbled across a new cafe in Eltham called the Craftwork Roasting Company. Well, as well as being a cafe, they are also a coffee roaster and it is in this context that they now have a page in our Local Food and Drink Directory.


They roast coffee, which they then sell in bags online and at their shop (1/27 Peel Street, Eltham). There are 9 choices across espresso and filter at any one time, including 6 single origins, sourced through select merchants who work ethically and sustainably with coffee producers.

Their cafe (aka brew bar) and retail space has windows looking into the roasting and production area. Customers can browse brewing equipment, ceramic cups and Craftwork beans while they wait for their takeaway coffee. Or they can sit down to drink their coffee together with house baked pastries, cakes and bread.

Welcome Caleb and Rebecca!

Some new(ish) community gardens

Last Sunday, many of our local community gardens had open days. I (Guy) chose to go to two that I wasn’t familiar with, namely Mooroolbark (left hand photo) and Strathdon House in Forest Hill (right hand photo). I will provide more information about these two community gardens in the new year.


Some established food growing areas in Banyule

As part of the launch of their new food strategy last week, Banyule Council showed a number of us round Bellfield Community Garden (left hand photo) and the nearby Farm Raiser farm (right hand photo). In the photos, Paul, Eve and Patrick (all newsletter readers) are talking about what happens at these two places.


More on the Victoria Container Deposit Scheme (by Anna Sanders)

Thanks for letting us know that the Victoria Container Deposit Scheme is now live. I pick up litter on my daily walk in Eltham and recently collected 3 cans that had the 10c deposit on them, so I took them to the milk bar to test the process, which worked. However, I’m not sure how many people are aware of the refund process yet because, on my walk home from the milk bar, I picked up another $1 worth of recyclables! Wouldn’t it be great if Coles and Woolworths made a big deal of the scheme and became one of the refund points? Let’s all get involved!

Panton Hill Winery is up for sale

See the website. This is obviously a major development in terms of Nillumbik wineries. But less obviously, it is also a major development in terms of Nillumbik real estate because the buildings are perhaps the most striking/beautiful suite of buildings in the whole of Nillumbik.

‘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 (c/o Ps Bob Taranto) in Epping; Odyssey House Victoria at 28 Bonds Road, Lower Plenty, 3093; or STREAT in Collingwood. Alternatively, Tiny Trowel, PO Box 4076, Box Hill South, 3128.

Mitcham Community Meal

Mitcham Community Meal provides a free community dinner every Sunday evening, where each meal is cooked by a different local community group. During November, the cooking teams were Melbourne Chinese Church of Christ, Mitcham Baptist Church, Rotary Nunawading and Team Francis (see photo right). Look at some photos of these teams, plus those of previous teams.

Another video from Simone Boyd

Why you should plant tomato seedlings deep.

Our articles over the last month

Here are some of the articles from our newsletters over the last month that you might have missed:

What seeds to plant in December

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.

The Melbourne ‘Local Food Connections’ community radio show

There won’t be an episode on Sunday (3rd December).

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was the ABC article about the garden in Collingwood being under threat.

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

It’s so hot that our garlic took its cloves off.

Read more food-related jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ and other food markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Sustain and Oakhill Farm holiday barbecue; Thursday, 21st December, 5-8pm; free; Preston.

They will be cooking up a variety of meat and non-meat options on the grill. Take your own drinks plus a side dish to share if you’d like.

In November
In December
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

In November
In December
Regular classes
Nov 222023

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Angelo Eliades, Ann Stanley, Chris Chapple, Jaimie Sweetman, Jennie Ramage, Jude Waldron, Lee Hirsh, Lee Tozzi and Lisa Claiborne.

Self-seeding edible annuals (by Jaimie Sweetman)

[Jaimie is Head Gardener of the Edible Forest located on the Yarra Valley Estate in Dixons Creek. Tours of the Edible Forest, often led by Jaimie, take place on Fridays and Saturdays – read more and book your place on a future tour.]

In the Edible Forest, we have many self-seeding plants, each with its own purpose. They include:

  • Angelica (beneficial bugs, clay breaker and medicinal).
  • Calendula (medicinal).
  • Corn flowers (for tea).
  • Nigella (edible seeds).
  • Perennial sweet peas.
  • Violas (edible flowers).
  • Yam daisies (edible tubers).

Some we have only started with one plant and over the years this has multiplied to as many as we want.

None of these plants are hard to remove.

Also, letting plants self seed means the garden is always looking different. While it’s not for some as it creates a more wild aesthetic, it certainly makes gardening easier. And it’s a way to work with nature instead of against it.

Read about more of Jaimie’s unusual edible plants on our website.

Read the list edible flowers on our website.

Banyule’s Urban Food Strategy

In the past year Banyule Council, in conjunction with Sustain and community members, have been developing an Urban Food Strategy, which aims to be “a blueprint for creating, celebrating and enhancing Banyule’s food systems to ensure it is healthy, sustainable, equitable, inclusive and accessible.” The strategy was adopted unanimously by Banyule’s councillors on 25th September. Read the draft strategy and associated action plan.

The strategy is being launched tomorrow (Thursday, 23rd November) at 6-8pm at Bellfield Community Hub. The event is free. Learn about the aspirations and opportunities for Banyule’s urban food systems, hear Professor Michael Buxton discuss the importance of protecting our peri-urban areas, visit Bellfield Community Hub, and connect with others interested in Banyule’s urban food systems. Read more and book your place.

Yes, you did advise!

Last week, Rebecca Haschek asked what, if anything, she could plant in early December when she returns from holiday. Angelo Eliades and Jennie Ramage have sent in substantive replies.

Advice from Angelo Eliades

There’s a reason why there is a gardening calendar for every single month of the year, because different seeds can be sown and seedlings can be transplanted. Gardeners sometimes make the mistake in thinking that all their crops need to be planted in spring once the weather warms up, and that’s it!

Obviously, some seeds need to go in before December, and those won’t be possible for Rebecca to sow as seeds, but the seedlings that can be purchased are six weeks ahead, so it’s just like sowing the seeds in mid-October. For the veggie and herb seedlings that need to be planted before December, it will be too late, but there are others that can still be planted. It’s never too late to sow some kind of seeds or plant some kind crops in any month of the year, nature doesn’t stop in any month and neither should our gardening!

[Editor: from our planting guide, here are some of the veggies whose seeds you can plant in October and whose seedlings you can therefore plant in December: beans, beetroot, carrot, celery, chives, cucumber, gourd, jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, okra, parsley, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, radish, rocket, rockmelon, silverbeet, spring onions, sweet potato, sweetcorn, watermelon and zucchini.]

Advice from Jennie Ramage

Often the hardest thing is to hold back planting summer crops until the soil has warmed. Planting in December will be a gift in this regard!

I have often put in a second planting of climbing bean seeds in late December. During a hot summer, which we are told is ahead of us, I would still be picking beans into April.

Buy tomato seedlings that look a bit stressed and that have flowers. If you can, buy them in single small pots rather than 6 in a punnet, so that their roots are not overly damaged when you plant them. Plant deeply into well dug soil, raise the soil up to the level of the first leaves, sprinkle with compost or worm castings, mulch with pea straw, sprinkle some cow manure on top. Water well. These plants have already been triggered to flower. Now with excellent growing conditions, the plants will be off and away and hopefully give you a good crop.

Zucchini (seeds) will still have time to crop. The soil will be warm and there won’t be cold weather that would set the plants back.

Basil (seedlings) will thrive, soil will be warm, plenty of growing time. Silverbeet, rocket, coriander seeds also. Make sure that you keep soil moist to germinate.

A final tip: put pea straw into a large bucket filled with water, then place the dripping wet mulch around your seedlings. The drier summer soil will get a soaking, the soil will stay protected from the hot sun, and the plants will thrive.

Some feedback on last week’s articles

From Lee Tozzi re the Coburg Community Garden Festival

The upcoming Coburg Community Garden Festival is being supported by the My Smart Garden program (of which Merri-bek is one of 10 council partners).

My Smart Garden was the City Winner in the Education Category of the 2023 Keep Australia Beautiful Victoria Sustainability awards.

The EPA Waste prevention and reduction award that Green my Plate won was also from the 2023 Keep Australia Beautiful Victoria Sustainability awards, not Merri-Bek Council.

[And I (Guy) note that a young lady from Epping, called Tanya Sharma, was the City Winner in the Young Legend Category for her actions to combat cigarette butt litter.]

From Ann Stanley re the Rs of waste management

I loved your ‘re’ list and re-lated linguistic re-search. In high schools, we often say the three ‘rs’ in teaching are Relationship, Relationship, Relationship, because ‘if you can’t reach ’em, you can’t teach ’em ‘.

Thanks for making the effort to write in Ann and Lee!

The Railway Garden in Princes Hill

[Editor: A number of local community gardens were established during the Covid years and I have gradually been adding them to our Local Food Directory. This is one such.]

The Railway Garden is at North Carlton Railway Neighbourhood House, 20 Solly Avenue, Princes Hill. It is open to the public and comprises 10 large garden beds, 6 wicking beds, a citrus bed, a fruit tree area and an indigenous plants bed. Read their technical manual.

The vision is of a collectively managed, open and inclusive garden and community meeting place where people gather to connect with one another, either through gardening activities or simply for the pleasure of being there. They strive to ensure a positive impact on the environment, for example, no pesticides, use organic gardening methods, recycle waste and nutrients where possible (eg through composting) and save seeds. Read their operational manual.

To discuss any aspect of the community garden, contact North Carlton Railway Neighbourhood House by phone (9380 6654) or email. Also, see their website.

There are gardening groups on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. If you would potentially like to get involved in the garden, fill out an enrolment form and they will get in touch with you.

See more pictures of their garden on their page on our website.

Thanks for all the information, Lisa Claiborne!

We now have pages for 6 community gardens in City of Yarra and for a total of 61 community gardens around North East Melbourne as a whole.

‘The Secret Garden’ in Collingwood

6 years ago, a 5-year lease was granted for the purpose of “beautification, weed management and operation of a community garden” at the northern end of Ballarat Street, Collingwood. This community garden is now under threat of closure. Read this ABC News article about why it is under threat of closure and why some locals are resisting such closure. Read, and potentially sign, the petition to save the Secret Garden.

Some news from Community Grocer

The Community Grocer is “a not-for-profit social enterprise that runs fresh produce markets and programs to increase social, economic and physical access to fresh food.” In particular, they sell fruit and veggies at Fitzroy on Tuesday mornings and at Carlton on Friday mornings.

Their pickup hubs

If you want to buy their fruit and veggies but can’t make it to their markets, you can order online and pick up the order in the afternoon following the market. Place an order and pick up from Rose St Pantry in Fitzroy on a Tuesday afternoon. Place an order and pick up from Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre in Carlton on a Friday afternoon.

Grocer gift cards

Their Grocer gift cards are vouchers which you purchase and then donate to community members experiencing food insecurity.

Want to organise a once-off food swap in Armadale next year?

The ABC Community Garden in Armadale is planning to run a sustainability festival next year on 6th April. Among other things, they would like to include a food swap, but would need help from someone to run it smoothly. Is there anyone who would potentially be interested in spending a few hours on the day hosting a food swap? If so, email me and I’ll put you in contact with them.

The Victorian container deposit scheme (CDS) scheme

As you hopefully know, Victoria’s container deposit scheme (CDS) scheme has now commenced and you can now exchange eligible drink containers for 10 cents. Per the State Government’s CDS website, “Most aluminium, glass, plastic and liquid paperboard (carton) drink containers between 150mL and 3 litres are eligible. You can keep the lids on, we recycle them too.” The exceptions are: plain milk containers of all sizes, cordial or syrup containers, wine & spirit bottles, large beverage pouches and some large (1 litre or greater) containers including juice.

There are refund locations in many suburbs but they are not necessarily where you might expect. For example, the location in my suburb (Eltham) is the milk bar on Pitt Street.

As an alternative to keeping the refunds, you can nominate a community group to automatically receive your refunds. You do this on the VISY website or the corresponding phone app (CDS Vic North). Create an account, then click the ‘donations’ button, then choose your ‘donation partner’. The donation partners are grouped into categories and, from a quick look through the list, I identified the following food-related organisations: Feed One Feed All (category: Disaster Relief), OzHarvest (Human Services), Richmond Churches Food Centre (Human Services), The Community Grocer (Community Development) and Whittlesea Community Garden (Community Development).

The Melbourne ‘Local Food Connections’ community radio show

On this upcoming Sunday’s episode, Ann Stanley will chat with Lucinda Flyn about her permaculture garden in Hurstbridge.

Listen on 3CR (855 AM) on Sunday morning, 10-10.30am, by tuning into either the station (855 AM) or its livestream.

Podcasts of previous episodes are available on their website. These are now proper podcasts, including titles and descriptions.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was Ann’s article about Murundaka.

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

A balanced diet is essential. Try a pastry in each hand. (submitted by Lee Hirsh)

Read more food-related jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ and other food markets

You may have previously bought some of Island Home’s rather interesting Sri Lankan curry meals at Eltham Farmers’ Market. Well, they have now also started making ready-to-eat pan rolls. I bought their chickpea, potato and coconut one a few weeks ago and it was rather yum. Their standard schedule is the 2nd and 4th Sundays so hopefully they will be at this upcoming Sunday’s market and you can try one then.

Food swaps
Community gardens

As you can see, there are lots of open days on this upcoming Sunday, 26th November.

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

How to make beeswax food wraps; Saturday, 25th November, 10-11.30am; $60 ($40 per hour); Collingwood.

You will learn how to mix, apply, bake and care for your beeswax wraps. All materials will be provided and you will take home however many wraps you make in the session (most people average about six).

Crop planning and rotation (2 sessions); Saturday, 2nd December, 10am-2pm and Sunday, 3rd December, 10am-3pm; $359 ($40 per hour); Bundoora.

In the first session, you will discuss how the opportunities and limitations of a site combine to inform crop placement and rotation. You will also learn how to grow for a defined market. The second session will be a field trip where you find out about a methodology for crop planning and how this is used at this specific site. You will also discuss weed management and fertility practices, particularly when flipping beds/shifting from one crop to another, and how this impacts rotation plans (which crops should follow or never follow). Presenter: Keren Tsaushu from Five Tales Farm in Piedmont. Organised by Farmer Incubator.

Vegetable garden planner workshop; Saturday, 2nd December, 2.30-4pm; $47 ($24 per hour); Bundoora.

You will get tips on: which vegetables to select to grow at a backyard-scale; how to best plant seeds and appropriately space out vegetables; companion planting; and best practice when it comes to the rotation of different families of vegetables. Presenter: Keren Tsaushu from Five Tales Farm. Organised by Farmer Incubator.

Resin art with ink – cheese platter (2 sessions); Monday, 4th December, 7-9pm and Tuesday, 5th December, 7-8pm; $95 ($32 per hour); Mount Evelyn.

Create a one of kind cheese platter in a relaxed and laid back environment. Local artist Stephanie Anne, from Sullcher Creative Design, will demonstrate the fine art of resin and ink. Learn how to manipulate and blend ink within the resin medium. No experience necessary. All resources included. Organised by Mt Evelyn Community House.

In November
In December
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Hamed Allahyari – salamati; Wednesday, 6th December, 6.30-8pm; free; Fitzroy North.

Hamed Allahyari’s book, is called Salamati: Hamed’s Persian kitchen: recipes and stories from Iran to the other side of the world. Hamid will discuss his book and also make dadani dip.

Gingerbread making with Mumma Sweden; Thursday, 7th December, 6.30-8.30pm; $70 ($35 per hour); Collingwood.

You will make, and take home, a batch of freshly baked gingerbread delights, be they star-shaped cookies, gingerbread figures or something else. Presenter: Mumma Sweden.

In November
In December
Regular classes
Nov 152023

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Ann Stanley, Bruce Plain, Maude Farrugia, Nathacha Subero, Pauline Webb and Rebecca Haschek.

The garden at Murundaka Co-housing Community (by Ann Stanley)

[Following a callout in a previous newsletter, Ann Stanley recently visited the Murundaka Co-housing Community in Heidelberg Heights, walked round its garden with one of its residents, Sarah Swierzy, and then interviewed Sarah plus fellow resident Collette Couper. Ann’s full writeup of the garden visit is available on our website, with a shortened version below. Her interview with Collette and Sarah is available as a podcast on the 3CR radio website. Would you like Ann to visit your community garden? If so, email us.]

The Murundaka Cohousing Community is an all-rental, values-based, intentional community in Heidelberg Heights. The co-operative was established in 2011. There is a block of 18 custom-built apartments, with 2 free standing houses in neighbouring streets. This, and similar initiatives, are trying to address all of the problems of environmental sustainability, the shortage of housing and unaffordable rents.

Murundaka has a huge, rambling garden. This begins at the back door of the Common House, a large, custom-built space with two big sinks, plenty of bench space, tables, a wood burning heater, and cosy zones built around couches, bookshelves, art and a kids’ play area.


On the adjoining patio there is a comfortable seating area. A banana tree with a hand of still-green fruit enjoys the warmth of a north-facing wall of the apartment building where most of the residents live. There is a firepit.

Deeper into the garden is a large mulberry tree which the residents had recently spent an afternoon shaking to gather the fruit on a huge tarpaulin, but the tree was still laden, and the ground strewn with large juicy mulberries. Collette told me that mulberries had been, for a couple of weeks, a feature of the desserts at the common meal that takes place every Friday in the Common House.

The garden is well-planned and cared-for. The soil has been fed by the large composting system and worm farm and mature fruit trees now yield avocados, cherries, pears, cherry guava, apples, citrus fruits, apricots, other stone fruits, kiwifruit, grapes and feijoas.

There are individual veggie plots, in various states of cropping, with the last of the winter veggies going to seed and new seedlings ready for the warmth of summer. There is also a communal veggie plot.

At the end of the garden, there is a large chicken pen, empty of residents pending fox-proof renovation. The adjacent forage area is wild with borage and other volunteer plants, including edible weeds and herbs that have thrived on neglect.

There is a gardening committee that takes responsibility for the garden, organising gardening bees on the days of the monthly whole group meeting. Some of the residents are horticulturists and permaculture enthusiasts.

Murundaka is a local Wurundjeri word meaning ‘a place to stay or live.’ If living in a community means commitment to shared responsibility, sustainability and growing fresh food, the Murundaka co-housing community is an inspiring model of what could be the future of housing in Melbourne and in cities all over the world.

Read Ann’s full writeup of the Murundaka garden on our website.

Local Food Connect’s 2023 annual report

View/download the report.

Some newsletter reader tips

Pauline Webb on parsnips and mangelwurzel

The photo shows two root vegetables. The left hand vegetable is a 28cm parsnip that I (Pauline) recently pulled up. Note that the end broke where it had gone below the loam into clay.

The right hand vegetable is a mangelwurzel [editor: a variety of beetroot]. It is my first mangelwurzel ever. When I heard Jerry (Brisbane) on Gardening Australia talk about them, I was fascinated. I’m sure his grew very large but I am happy with my first attempt.

Bruce Plain on rats and carnivore urine

Some researchers at Harvard Medical School have recently published an article entitled The smell of danger: rats instinctively avoid compound in carnivore urine. Here’s the summary: “Researchers have discovered a single compound found in high concentrations in the urine of carnivores that triggers an instinctual avoidance response in mice and rats. This is the first time that scientists have identified a chemical tag that would let rodents sense carnivores in general from a safe distance.”

Read some other newsletter reader tips on our website.

As I said last week, I (Guy) think that tips from newsletter readers really add to the newsletter so, if you have any, send them in by email.

Can you advise?

Rebecca Haschek is on holiday, returning end November, and she hasn’t yet planted her summer vegetables. In fact, her vegetable plot is currently a mixture of overgrown parsley and kikuyu grass. What should she be doing in early December when she is back and can spend some time in the garden? Are there any summer crops she should plant or would it be better to focus on preparing for autumn sowing? Email your advice.

Want to volunteer?

Strathdon House and Orchard Precinct in Forest Hill is seeking volunteers to help out with their garden. They grow a variety of vegetables and herbs in raised garden beds as well as some decorative plants. The volunteers decide on the various plantings and rotations. They are, of course, able to harvest produce for their own use. If you are potentially interested, contact Megan McMahon by phone (8873 9121, Wed-Fri) or email (

The Coburg Community Garden Festival

I realised a week or so ago that there were a lot of free, upcoming events in Coburg on Friday 1st, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd December. But it is only this week that it has been pointed out to me (thanks, Nathacha!) that these are all part of something called the Coburg Community Garden Festival. In total, there are 15 events across 9 sites, with the following 7 of these being directly food-related:

To read more, go to the Zero Carbon Merri-bek website.

In passing, whilst I was on the Zero Carbon Merri-bek website, I noticed that an organisation called Green my Plate had recently won Merri-bek’s 2023 EPA Waste prevention and reduction award. Green my Plate “supply reusable, light-weight, plates and bowls to events, schools and anyone else wanting to minimise their waste.Watch this 40 second video.

The Rs of waste management

City of Yarra Council has published a ‘circular economy map’ which shows the businesses and community initiatives in Yarra that are working to reduce waste and extend the use of resources. The categories of organisation are: regenerate & renew; refuse & reduce; reduce & repurpose; repair & restore; and recycle & recover.

Related to this, I recently came across the graphic right, which was entitled the 8 Rs of waste management.

Then my memory kicked in and I remembered seeing other similar lists but with more, less or different Rs. A quick piece of Googling revealed that these lists can contain any of the following:

  1. Recover.
  2. Recycle.
  3. Reduce.
  4. Refill.
  5. Refurbish.
  6. Refuse.
  7. Regenerate.
  8. Regift.
  9. Remember.
  10. Repair.
  11. Repurpose.
  12. Respect.
  13. Restore.
  14. Rethink.
  15. Return.
  16. Reuse.

Then my mind kicked in. Obviously, in at least some of the cases, the ‘re’ is a prefix which means ‘again’. For example, reuse = re-use = to use again. But what about reduce (how does one ‘duce’ again)? Some more Googling revealed that, in terms of their derivation, the 15 Rs above can be grouped into three linguistic categories:

  • Where the ‘re’ is a prefix for a commonly used word and where the concatenated meaning is to do that word again. Refill, regift, repurpose, rethink, reuse. Such words can be spelt with or without a hyphen (e.g. ‘re-use’ or ‘reuse’).
  • As above but where the concatenated word has become as commonly used as, and totally distinct from, the original word. Recycle, refurbish, regenerate, return. No hyphens allowed.
  • Where the ‘re’ is again a prefix to a Latin word, and means to do that word again, but where the Latin word never made it into the English language. For example, ‘respect’ comes from the Latin ‘respicere’, where ‘spicere’ meant ‘to look at’. Obviously no hyphens allowed.

Finally, what do you think of as the 3Rs? According to Wikipedia, they can be any of:

  • In teaching: reading, writing and arithmetic.
  • In sustainability: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • In animal welfare: reduction, refinement and replacement.
  • In IT: rapid, reliable and repeatable.

The Melbourne ‘Local Food Connections’ community radio show

On this upcoming Sunday’s episode, Ann Stanley will chat with Claire about the 12 principles of permaculture.

Listen on 3CR (855 AM) on Sunday morning, 10-10.30am, by tuning into either the station (855 AM) or its livestream.

Podcasts of previous episodes are available on their website. These are now proper podcasts, including titles and descriptions.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was the profile of Anna Matilda, the Urban Nanna..

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

I made some Indian food for dinner last night. I told my wife that I’d used butter but wished I’d had some ghee instead. She looked at me quizzically, and I continued “because it’s more traditionally Indian.

Ah,” she replied. “Thanks for clarifying.

Read more food-related jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ and other food markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

The placemaking festival; Saturday, 18th November, 10am-3pm; free; Coburg.

Enjoy various workshops, food and live music. The activities include: bushfoods by Joanne Russell (10-11am); a mindful guided walk (11am-midday); creating an indigenous plants corridor (midday-3pm); and kids painting and play workshops (1-3pm). There will also be a plant sale from 11am to 2pm. Organised by Reynard Street Neighbourhood House. Click here to read about the community garden.

Rosanna Primary School old school fair; Saturday, 18th November, 2-7pm; free; Rosanna.

There will be craft stalls, a silent auction, children’s rides & activities, live music and food & beverages. The Rosanna Primary Garden Club have been working hard to grow plenty of summer seedlings for sale and to create bush crafts. They will have lots of edibles, natives, flowers and indoor plants propagated by the kids and parent volunteers, as well as pot decorating and fairy garden making activities for the children.

Tour of Collingwood Children’s Farm; Saturday, 25th November, 10am-12.30pm; $27 ($11 per hour); Abbotsford.

Join a walking tour of their market style garden, cut flower production and native food production. Then join their Animal Husbandry team on a walking tour to learn about animal production systems operating in an urban environment with a regenerative agriculture framework and how they balance production goals with social impact and environmental sustainability. Learn about how animal production and small scale farming can be adapted to small blocks of land or even your own backyard.

Intro to home brew; Saturday, 25th November, 3-5pm; $6; Hurstbridge.

Part 1, 3-4pm – Getting started: what/where/how (e.g. a brief history of beer and the key ingredients, with samples to touch and smell); equipment required (e.g. kits, bottling gear, best places to buy them); tips for optimal fermentation; and brewing outcomes and variances in flavour. Part 2, 4-5pm – Next steps: where does home brewing lead (e.g. improving processes and beer quality); better equipment (e.g. fridges to control temperature, kegs rather than bottles, kegerators); and competitions, social and other outcomes. Beginners should feel free to just attend the first part. Current home brewers should feel free to just attend the second part. Facilitated by (T)Hursty Brewers Homebrew Club, more specifically Brian Jones, David Morton, Holger Detje and Jo Skuse.

Panel discussion; Wednesday, 29th November, 5.30-8pm; $27 ($11 per hour); Abbotsford.

Listen to some industry experts from across the supply chain discuss connecting with where our food comes from and aiming to provide the best possible product for consumers in an ethical manner. Mediator: Chris Williams. After the discussion, there will be time for networking and conversation plus a selection of light food and beverages.

Twilight garden festival; Friday, 1st December, 3-7pm; free; Coburg.

Immerse yourself in an array of activities, including: 3-4pm – how to create gardens for wildlife; 3.30–4.30pm and 5–6pm – draw plants together; 3.30-5.30pm – learn how to build an insect hotel; and 4.30-5.30pm – intro to composting. Music, food and plant sales will be available throughout. Organised by Reynard Street Neighbourhood House. Click here to read about the community garden.

In November
In December
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Summer desserts class; Friday, 24th November, 10am-12.30pm; $190 ($76 per hour); Diamond Creek.

Jade, from My Pantry Door, will guide you through the process of making a variety of summer-themed desserts, including gin-infused berry cheesecake pots and chocolate-filled choux pastry.

Christmas tree cake class; Sunday, 3rd December, 1-4pm; $245 ($82 per hour); Diamond Creek.

Jade, from My Pantry Door, will guide you through the process of making Christmas tree cakes. You will also decorate your own cake to take home.

No waste cooking demonstration with Open Table; Saturday, 9th December, 10-11am; free; Reservoir.

Open Table will discuss how to reduce food waste whilst demonstrating how to cook use-it-up potato salad croquettes and panzanella salad.

Christmas cupcake class; Wednesday, 13th December, 10am-12.30pm; $145 ($58 per hour); Diamond Creek.

Jade, from My Pantry Door, will guide you through the process of making swiss meringue buttercream, colouring buttercream, and using piping skills to create simple bespoke and festive designed cupcakes. You will also get to take home 6 vanilla cupcakes decorated by you.

Gingerbread cookie house workshop; Saturday, 16th December, 1-2.30pm; $65 ($44 per hour); Forest Hill.

Erika will show you how to decorate your own holiday gingerbread house.

In November
In December
Regular classes
Nov 072023

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Ann Stanley, Hayden Marks, Pauline Webb and Sue Dyet.

Melbourne Bushfood’s bush food of the month – old man’s saltbush (Atriplex nummularia)

[The material below is a summary of material from the Melbourne Bushfood website. Melbourne Bushfood sells a wide range of bush foods (both the foods themselves and the plants) which you can buy either online or at their shop at 49 Sparks Avenue, Fairfield, Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm.]

The old man’s saltbush’s leaves have a rich salty flavour but with low bitterness. Fresh, they can be mixed into a salad or stir fry. Dried, they are an earthy substitute to regular salt and can be used as a seasoning on slow cooked meats, stews, curries and soups or added on to roasted vegetables to give a herby flavour. Traditionally, the dried leaves have been used as a flavouring in bread and sourdough.

Simply pluck off leaves as needed. Make sure to wash before using.

The plant is a hardy shrub with pale-green leaves that can grow to around 2 metres tall and wide. It has a tendency to shoot straight up (like bamboo) and thus benefits from regular pruning. It can be grown in any type of soil and is drought tolerant. It is suitable for growing in pots.

Read about some other bushfoods on our website.

Some newsletter reader tips

Sue Dyet on broccoli

If your broccoli head in the crisper is getting a bit ‘rubbery’, don’t throw it into the compost yet. Just cut 5cm from the stalk, compost that, then put the remaining stalk in water (any glass will do) and put it back in the crisper. It will then ‘stiffen up’. Keep changing the water as you eat it.

Pauline Webb on broad beans

When I (Pauline) picked the last of my broad beans last week, I cut the tall plants down to 200mm high. There were already new shoots of 50-80mm hiding in their bases. These shots are now 300mm and with flowers so it looks like I will be getting a second crop. Note that I pick most of my broad beans relatively early and cook them whole. Also note that the stray leggy leaves in the photo are self-seeded parsnips.

Read some other newsletter reader tips on our website.

I (Guy) think that tips from newsletter readers really add to the newsletter so, if you have any, send them in by email.

Ann Stanley’s local hero of the month – Bev Middleton

When Bev Middleton retired from full-time work and full time caring, she wanted to make a contribution to saving the environment. After a chance meeting with a regenerative farmer on a plane trip, she became passionate about soil conservation and began to learn about the role of soil in sequestering carbon, so that it is not released into the atmosphere to cause global warming.

Since then, Bev has journeyed to the Wimmera in Victoria and to Western Australia to visit farmers who are practising regenerative agriculture in order to improve the life of their soils, reduce their dependence on harmful inputs and restore ecosystems that have been degraded.

Having seen the success of these farmers in producing high quality food for market, Bev initiated Soil Week Australia, with the support of Healthy Soils Australia.

Soil Week Australia is aligned with the United Nations World Soil Day which is held annually on 5th December “to focus attention on healthy soil and to advocate for better soil management practices.

Would you like to nominate anyone to be our next hero of the month? If so, email us and Ann will be in contact.

Read about Anna Matilda, the Urban Nanna

Whitehorse Council have just published a profile of newsletter reader Anna as one in a series of ‘Green Living Champions’.

Sustainable Macleod have now sold all of their tomato seedlings

Sustainable Macleod had its final sale of tomato seedlings at last Sunday’s Eltham Farmers’ Market. Pictured at Anthony, Maxine, Paul and Yvonne, all of them newsletter readers.

The Melbourne ‘Local Food Connections’ community radio show

On this upcoming Sunday’s episode, Ann Stanley will chat with Lynn-eva Bottomley and Vicky Elmore about The Farmer Raiser Pop-Up Garlic Program.

Listen on 3CR (855 AM) on Sunday morning, 10-10.30am, by tuning into either the station (855 AM) or its livestream.

Audio recordings of previous episodes are available on their website, including last week’s chat with Sarah and Collette from Murundaka Co-Housing in Heidelberg Heights.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was the self-guided tour of urban agriculture in Yarra’s North..

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

On Monday morning, he brought in a turkey and provolone on wheat bread. Put it in the fridge. By lunch time it was gone.

On Tuesday, he brought in ham and cheddar on white bread. Put it in the fridge, again gone by lunch.

Today he brought a chicken caesar wrap. Gone by midday.

I hope he brings a pastrami and Swiss tomorrow. That’s my favourite.

Read more food-related jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ and other food markets

DIVRS will be selling tomato seedlings at the Alphington Farmers’ Market.

Food swaps
Community gardens

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Good Life Growing – book launch with Hannah Moloney; Sunday, 12th November, 2.30-4.30pm; free; CERES.

Listen to a conversation between Gardening Australia presenter Hannah Moloney and local author, Jacyln Crupi (Garden Like a Nonno). Hannah will be launching her new book entitled Good Life Growing – How to grow fruit and veg anywhere in Australia. There will be time to ask Hannah questions and she will also be available for book signing at the end of the session.

Urban permaculture property garden tour; Sunday, 19th November, 3-5pm; $10; Kilsyth.

The property features a solar system, multiple water tanks, a glasshouse, a seed saving box, a pond, a vegetable patch with wicking beds and fruit trees, chickens, beekeeping, and a food forest.

Beginner beekeeping; Thursday, 23rd November, 10.30-11.30am; free; Nunawading.

Are you interested in keeping bees and harvesting honey made from the nectar of flowers in your local area? Ashton Edgley, from Hive to Hive Beekeeping, will discuss the importance of bees in eco/agriculture systems plus the history of beekeeping pollination and honey production. There will also be some tastings.

Banyule’s Urban Food Strategy launch; Thursday, 23rd November, 6-8pm; free; Bellfield.

Learn about the aspirations and opportunities for Banyule’s urban food systems, hear Professor Michael Buxton discuss the importance of protecting our peri-urban areas, visit Bellfield Community Hub, and connect with others interested in Banyule’s urban food systems.

Community composting conversation; Friday, 1st December, 11am-midday; free; Coburg.

Learn first hand about a community/cafe collaboration to reduce organic matter, mainly coffee grounds, going to landfill. Local neighbours, known as the Coburg Composters, will speak about the project, how it’s done and why.

Intro to composting; Friday, 1st December, 4.30-5.30pm; free; Coburg.

Get hands-on with compost bins, dive into the world of worm farms and explore the benefits of community composting hubs, fostering sustainability in your neighbourhood.

Worm farming workshop; Saturday, 2nd December, 10-11am; free; Coburg.

Tim, from Regeno, will discuss how to start and care for a worm farm, create your own castings, and make worm tea for your garden.

Summer fruit tree pruning with Chris England; Saturday, 2nd December, 10am-1pm; $65 ($22 per hour); Burnley.

Using the demonstration fruit trees in the orchard of the Burnley Gardens, you will learn how to summer prune fruit trees to get maximum fruit. Chris will also demonstrate how to get fruit on espalier fruit trees. This is a small group workshop, where you will ‘have a go’ under an expert’s watchful eye. Suitable for either beginners or as a refresher for experienced pruners.

Plant to harvest; Saturday, 2nd December, midday-1pm; free; Macleod.

Learn how to plant seeds and seedlings, and maintain them right through to harvest. You will also receive some free seedlings or seeds. Organised by Watsonia Neighbourhood House in conjunction with Sustainable Macleod.

Forage walk; Saturday, 9th December, 10am-midday; $35 ($18 per hour); Coburg.

Join Taj Scicluna, the Perma Pixie, on an outdoor adventure that will focus on identifying edible and medicinal weeds. Discover the properties and actions that these plants have to nourish and heal, and discuss recipes and ways to prepare these plants for palatability and practicality.

In November
In December
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Christmas pudding making workshop; Saturday, 18th November, 10am-midday; $15; Watsonia.

Make a Christmas pudding to cook at home. Organised by Watsonia Neighbourhood House.

Marinating; Tuesday, 21st November, 6-8.30pm; $65 ($26 per hour); Hawthorn.

They will marinate feta cheese. Along with marinated mushrooms and marinated capsicums, each participant will go home with a couple of jars from the class and the class notes to try other fruits and vegetables in their own kitchens. Organised by Hawthorn Community House.

Gnocchi making demonstration; Tuesday, 21st November, 6.45-8pm; free; Coburg.

Antonio and Linda will show you how to make potato gnocchi with plain tomato sauce plus pumpkin gnocchi with burnt butter, sage and truffle sauce. A tasting of the dishes will be included.

The art of chocolate masterclass at Pidapipo Laboratorio; Saturday, 25th November, 10am-midday; $150 ($75 per hour); Fitzroy.

Learn everything there is to know about chocolate making. Expect to get your hands real dirty, including tempering, moulding, filling and tasting. Create your own set of chocolates to take home, along with a complementary Pidapipo chocolate bar and a copy of their book Gelato eight days a week.

Easy recipes on a budget with Open Table; Wednesday, 29th November, 4-5pm; free; Carlton.

Learn ways to better manage your grocery bills and make some healthy, easy meals. Facilitated by Open Table.

Get your dad in the kitchen!; Wednesday, 6th December, 4-6pm; free; Hawthorn.

This event is for dads (or father figures/guardian) and their children (at least 10 years old) to learn how they can cook easy and yummy meals together at home. Facilitator: Joel Feren.

Gingerbread house decoration; Sunday, 10th December, 10.30am-midday; $50 ($34 per hour); Camberwell.

This workshop is for children aged 7+. The child will decorate their own pre-constructed gingerbread house. Use royal icing to attach a variety of sweets and lollies. Decorate a range of Xmas tree, gingerbread man, hearts and candy cane cookies as part of the Christmas scene.

Gingerbread house decorating workshop; Wednesday, 13th December, 1-3.30pm; free; Mill Park.

Learn how to decorate your own gingerbread house from the Cake Decorators Association of Victoria.

Gingerbread house decoration; Saturday, 16th December, 2-3.30pm; $50 ($34 per hour); Camberwell.

This workshop is for children aged 7+. The child will decorate their own pre-constructed gingerbread house. Use royal icing to attach a variety of sweets and lollies. Decorate a range of Xmas tree, gingerbread man, hearts and candy cane cookies as part of the Christmas scene.

In November
In December
Regular classes
Nov 022023

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Angela Harridge, Ann Stanley, Megan Goodman, Rachel Bishop, Robin Gale-Baker, Sue Dyet and Vanessa Nitsos Chan.

Pruning established espaliered fruit trees (by Robin Gale-Baker)

[The photo is of an espaliered pear tree where Robin has pruned the left hand side but not the right hand side.]

With the arrival of a warm, wet Melbourne Spring, my espaliered fruit trees have gone gangbusters! The trees are putting on masses of new growth in all directions. However, most of this new growth actually needs to come off. Here are some tips to keep your espaliers healthy, in check and fruit bearing.

There are many espalier shapes, but here I will focus on the two most popular, namely a fan shape for citrus and horizontal shape for apples, pears and stone fruit. In both cases, your aim is to create a tree that is flat, uncluttered and full of fruiting spurs upon which the fruit will grow. Additionally, hard pruning will allow good air circulation which will prevent disease.

There are two main procedures: tying down new, sappy growth while it is flexible and pruning away outward and vertical growth.

With horizontal espaliers, begin by identifying which side branches you want to keep. If they have reached the end of the wire, prune the tip to prevent further growth. If you are starting on a new wire (that will be a higher wire) then select and tie down one side branch each side of the main trunk. Begin with this for two reasons: first, you are unlikely to accidentally cut this branch off and, second, if it snaps you can then remove it and select another to train along the wire. When tying, leave about 1cm between the branch and wire to prevent the wire growing into the branch or rubbing on the branch in windy weather.

With fan shape trees, choose which branches to expand the fan and tie these on to your frame, pruning any that have reached the maximum height or width of the frame at their tip.

You have now established the new frame and it is time to prune the foliage.

With both shapes, the foliage that protrudes forward needs to be removed or cut back to a fruiting spur. If it looks like a green, leafy, water shoot then prune this at the base, even if it is growing horizontally (water shoots generally grow vertically but on espaliers they go up and out). If there is wood at the base with fruiting spurs or buds, then shorten this for the moment and later you can thin the fruiting spur branches so that the branch isn’t too cluttered. At the end of the branch nearest the trunk, you will see two basal leaves on the wood; count three leaf groups above this and cut just above the third one. Shortened branches prevent growth hormone from going upward and re-direct it into these short stems to create fruiting spurs. Space fruiting spur branches at about 12cm intervals along the branch and remove any in between.

Once the outward branches have been pruned on a horizontal shape, start on the vertical growth on each side branch. Prune any water shoots to the base and shorten any woody branches as above. Prune away any growth beneath the side branches too. With a fan shape, thin out the branches, selecting the strongest and tie them to the frame. Of course, remove any diseased, crossed or broken branches.

With horizontal shapes, there will come a time each year when you need to prune the main trunk. By cutting the trunk just above the new wire, you force the buds just beneath the cut to develop and these become the new side branches. A vertical shoot will then develop into the main trunk and grow up to the next wire for the process to be repeated the following year.

Protect your espaliered fruit from birds and possums with netting. Because they are flat, espaliers are easy to net. Net can be hung over the top wire and draped down both sides even when an espalier is against a wall.

Espaliers require a lot of attention. In winter, prune for shape and in spring prune at least three times, a month apart, to reduce foliage and maximise fruit growth. It is surprising how quickly espaliers can get out of hand when there is plenty of rain and warmth, but attending to them is well worth the effort. They are very attractive, and will reward you with beautiful flowers, foliage and fruit.

A self-guided tour of urban agriculture in Yarra’s north

City of Yarra Council(?) have just published a self-guided tour of urban agriculture in Yarra’s north. It is a 3km walk from Rushall Community Garden in Fitzroy North to the Railway Garden in Princes Hill, with 8 points of interest in between.

You can now grow edible plants in Whittlesea’s nature strips

If you live in the Whittlesea municipality, you can now grow edible plants on your nature strip so long as they are in removable planter boxes.

I don’t know how many of our local councils allow this. I’m pretty sure that my one (Nillumbik) doesn’t.

Newsletter tip of the week – spent lettuces

From Sue Dyet: after you think a lettuce is finished for any reason, don’t pull it out but cut a stump about 5-10 cm long and then cut a cross in the middle/top of the stump about 1cm deep. Then wait for 4 smaller lettuces to appear from the rootstock. The photo right is of 4 mini lettuces about 2 months old that have grown from a single stem.

Thanks, Sue! It would be great if we had more tips from newsletter readers. Send us your tips by email.

Farewell to Miranda Sharp

Many of you will know that Miranda Sharp stepped down from her role of CEO of Melbourne Farmers’ Markets earlier this year, with Anne Duncan replacing her. Melbourne Farmers Market made the formal announcement in their latest newsletter.

Something for you to watch

As part of her Behind the garden gate series, Chloe Thomson recently visited Inge Kofoed Hansen’s garden in Diamond Creek. Watch the resulting video.

There are now a total of 15 videos on our website about local, edible home gardens.

Mitcham Community Meal

Mitcham Community Meal provides a free community dinner every Sunday evening, where each meal is cooked by a different local community group. During October, the cooking teams were Belmore Road Church of Chris, Blackburn Lions, Diane & crew (see photo right), Lifegate Church and MP Aiv Puglielli & staff. Look at some photos of these teams, plus those of previous teams.

Meg’s garden this month (by Megan Goodman)

As I write this, I am sheltering under the veranda and watching the hailstones gather in little piles over the decking. The cold snap has set back my spring planting even further but it has been great for the end of the brassicas by preventing them running to seed. I have lovely florets of broccoli and cauliflower to add to my vegetable pie (see recipe below). This is a great recipe for vegetables that need using. Any mix can be used. It is also adaptable as you can leave out the cheese or bacon or even the cream (use extra eggs).

Vegetable pie

500g diced and lightly steamed vegetables from the garden (so that they are only just soft)
2 potatoes, lightly steamed
1 small leek, finely sliced
olive oil
3 rashers bacon, trimmed
5 eggs
200ml cream
100g grated cheese
salt and pepper
puff pastry sheets x 2

Pre-heat oven to 200degC. Fry the leek in a little olive oil until soft. Cool.

Grease a pie dish/tin. Line with the puff pastry and blind bake with pie weight until it just starts to puff (about 15 minutes).

Cool and add all the vegetables and leek.

Mix together the eggs, cream, cheese salt and pepper and pour over the vegetables.

Lay the bacon rashers across the top and top with pastry sheet.

Bake for a further 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Read more of Megan’s recipes on our website.

The swift parrot is 2023 Australian bird of the year

Read the announcement in the Guardian, which includes the top ten.

Our articles over the last month

Here are some of the articles from our newsletters over the last month that you might have missed:

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was Local Food Connect’s final bulletin about Fabbro Fields..

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

The bartender said, “Why do you have a sandwich taped to your head?
The man said, “My family always wears a sandwich hat on Wednesdays.
The bartender said, “It’s Tuesday.
The man hung his head in shame and said, “Gosh, I must look pretty silly right now, then.

Read more food-related jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ and other food markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Gin and cheese sensory soiree; Thursday, 2nd November, 6-8pm; $49 ($25 per hour); Abbotsford.

Taste 4 gins paired with 4 French-style cheeses. Learn about the making processes and flavour notes from Daylesford Spirit and Long Paddock Cheese experts. After the tasting, try each gin in cocktails. Cheese boards will also be on offer.

Alphington garden site tour; Sunday, 12th November, 10-11am; free; Alphington.

Kim will introduce you to the DIVRS garden and will talk about what has (and has not!) worked on the site and in her home garden. The focus will be on gardening on a budget and they will be collating everyone’s tips and tricks for accessing ‘free’ garden resources around Darebin. DIVRS will also have a stall at the market where they will be selling tomato seedlings. All funds raised will be used to buy new gardening equipment and materials. DIVRS grow food for community in 4 spaces around Darebin. Last year, their team of around 20 volunteers grew around 1,200kg of vegetables (mostly leafy greens) for people experiencing food insecurity in Darebin.

Eltham Wine Show; Sunday, 19th November, 10.30am-2.30pm; $20; Bulleen.

Australia’s largest amateur wine show. Hundreds of wines will be available for tasting – red, white, sparkling and fortified grape wines. Also, meads, ciders, country wines, kombuchas and liqueurs. Wine awards and presentations.

Community compost gathering; Saturday, 25th November, 2-5pm; free; Fitzroy.

Meet some of the local leaders in community composting, including Dave Goodman (Kensington Town House Compost Hub), Jo Buckle (Gore Street Community Compost), Michael Mobbs (Sustainable Chippendale Street Compost), Kath Jones (Finbar Neighbourhood House), Alex Fearnside (Urban Coup Co-Housing Community), Avi Tan (North Melbourne Pump House Compost Hub), Xuan Wang (City Compost Network) and Clytie Binder (Churchill Fellow on Community Composting). At 3pm, there will be a biochar demonstration by Kath Jones. At 4pm, Xuan Wang will discuss the benefits and barriers of community composting in Australia.

Poultry and extreme heat; Sunday, 26th November, 10.15am-1.15pm; $64 ($21 per hour); Doreen.

Sarah Hunter will discuss how extreme heat can impact poultry and the techniques available to actually reduce temperatures through garden and free range design, as well as the short term practices that can be adopted to rapidly reduce heat impacts on chickens in an emergency situation. The concepts to be discussed include: how heat affects chickens; design techniques for poultry cooling; preparing your space for summer; and ‘instant’ techniques to cool your chickens during a heatwave. The workshop will also look at an establishing new orchard space on the farm where they are putting in place methods for heat mitigation.

Gardening and planting workshop; Sunday, 26th November, 11am-1pm; free; Brunswick.

Prepare a garden bed for planting, learn to arrange and plant seedlings, and learn about the seasonal planting calendar. Presenter: Melissa Houselander. Organised by Brunswick Neighbourhood House.

Worm farm – set your worms up for success; Sunday, 26th November, 1.45-3.15pm; free; Reservoir.

Learn all things worm farm with Corinne from Easy Peasy Gardens. Organised by Friends of Regent Community Garden. Click here to read about the garden.

The Veggie Empire urban farm tour; on Tuesday, 28th November, 10-11.30am and again on Sunday, 3rd December, 11am-midday; $11; St Helena.

The Veggie Empire, a farming duo (Scott and Josh) living with disability, will be hosting a guided tour of their urban farm. Together they have created a social enterprise that includes a market garden, food plant nursery, revegetation project and worm farming operation. As well as a guided walk around the farm, the tour will include a talk on how they’ve got to where they have and an explanation of the model they have used to get there. Following the tour, catering will be provided. Seedlings and produce will be available for purchase.

Introduction to beekeeping (2 sessions); Saturday, 2nd December, 9.30am-4.30pm and Saturday, 9th December, 10am-12.30pm; $225 ($24 per hour); St Helena.

This program is highly interactive and includes a live hive opening as well as other hands-on skill building exercises. The background instruction includes equipment selection and bee biology in addition to details of the Apiary and Biosecurity Codes of Practice. Included in the course fee are a comprehensive handbook and a copy of the textbook The Australian Beekeeping Manual, 2nd Ed. (which retails at $60). Organised by The Beekeepers Club.

St John’s Christmas gingerbread house making event; Friday, 8th December, 7.30-9.30pm; $40 ($20 per hour); Diamond Creek.

Create a gingerbread House – complete with an abundance of lollies, gingerbread people and snow. Tickets are for two people, sharing one gingerbread house. Then partake in a light supper with tea and coffee, followed by a short Christmas talk from a guest speaker. Organised by St John’s Anglican Church.

In November
In December
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Let’s masak-masak; Saturday, 4th November, 2.30-6pm; $15; Box Hill.

Want to learn how to cook authentic Peranakan dishes? Aunty Anita Wee will show you how to cook ayam pongteh (chicken stew) and Nyonya Allison Pereira will then to show you how to make telur cincalok (egg with fermented shrimp) and sambal belachan (chilli with shrimp paste). Please take something to share for afternoon tea, when you will taste the food that you learnt to make.

Cosmo cupcake soiree; Saturday, 18th November, 5-7pm; $75 ($38 per hour); Ivanhoe.

You will learn: the basics of buttercream; colouring buttercream; filling a piping bag; and piping techniques with three different piping tips. You will decorate 6 vanilla bean cupcakes in a Christmas themed style. Enjoy a complimentary cocktail by Imbue featuring their gin.

Kombucha, jun, water kefir, wild mead and beet kvass; Friday, 1st December, 6.30-8.30pm; $180 ($90 per hour); Fitzroy North.

Make four easy summer drinks. You will go home with 3 large jars full to be nurtured and ferment at home in your own kitchen of mead, beet kvass, kombucha and water kefir with the SCOBY – and a bottle of second fermenting water kefir that will be ready the next day.

Christmas cooking gift ideas; Friday, 8th December, 1.30-3pm; free; Greensborough.

Learn how to make some Christmas treats with Marie from Rie’s Kitchen.

Vegan chocolate making; Thursday, 14th December, 6.30-8pm; $80 ($53 per hour); Collingwood.

Start by unraveling the story of cocoa butter. Then delve into the intricacies of chocolate making, from melting and mixing the perfect blend of ingredients to mastering the art of setting. Presenter: Tina Gelberidis.

In November
In December
Regular classes