Aug 212019

Nina discusses the ‘pop-up garlic farmer’ program

Tess Gardiner, member of Local Food Connect and the Warrandyte Food Swap, is participating in the 2019 Pop-Up Garlic Farmer program run by Farmer Incubator. This program aims to connect those who want access to land to start their farming journey with the farming community. Participants take a crop of garlic from planting 500 cloves right through to harvest. Eight workshops are held throughout winter covering topics such as cultivation, pests and diseases, marketing and harvesting decisions. Throughout the course, participants also engage with representatives from Melbourne Farmers Markets, retailers chefs, CERES and restaurateurs to gain an understanding of the opportunities available once the garlic is harvested. The decision about what to do with the crop of garlic once harvested is left to the participants.

Tess first started seeing information about the program through Facebook and was a little sceptical at first but became convinced when she happened to hear someone from Farmer Incubator talk about the program. Tess likes how the program helps to put her in contact with other people who are interested in farming. She finds the workshops to be beneficial and enjoys the satisfaction that she gets after she has finished planting or weeding in the company of new friends.

Read more of Nina’s vignettes.

Community gardening news

Reynard Street Community Garden, in Coburg, now has its own page on our website. The garden is open to the public. A small group of gardening volunteers meets every Friday at 10am and works until 12:30pm when they break for a free community lunch! They incorporate produce from the garden into these weekly community lunches. There is also a working bee on the 3rd Sunday of every month, 2-4pm. New visitors and volunteers would be more than welcome at any of these events. Read about the garden. Welcome Hannah and colleagues!

Free spent coffee grounds for your garden – an update

In last week’s newsletter, an unnamed cafe in Eltham offered to give away its spent coffee grounds. Well, the cafe is Earthbound Bolton and seven of you put your hands up. The cafe’s owner, Rachel McGregor, has written in to say that “Thank you for sending out the word re coffee grounds and tea leaves! They are no longer being thrown away and are making it to local gardens.” The first of the people to respond was Hui Tan and she has written in to say: “We went there for brekky last Friday and picked up some coffee grounds. We will be going back tomorrow for more!

A second Eltham cafe has now contacted us to offer their spent coffee grounds: Platform 3095, 965 Main Road. Contact Jen by phone (9431 4109) or email (

Clearly the subject is of some interest: our list of local cafes and others giving away their spent coffee grounds was the most clicked link in last week’s newsletter.

How to prune a fruit tree

Another article by newsletter reader Angelo Eliades, this time on how to prune a fruit tree, step by step.

Angelo tells me that the reason he is writing so many articles at the moment is that he will be writing a book soon and is trying to get himself into shape writing-wise!

Read more of Angelo’s food-related articles.

Want to buy some biochar?

After reading Stuart Rodda’s article on our website, many of you became converts to the use of biochar as a soil conditioner but I’ve been told that some of you have had difficulties sourcing the material. Well, Grayson Australia in Bayswater stock it. Thanks for the heads up, Jess Ness!

Every newsletter needs a good picture

Perhaps the most famous painting ever of fruit: Boy with a Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio, painted in 1594.

In passing, ten years later, according to Wikipedia, Caravaggio “murdered a love rival in a botched attempt at castration“!

Five edible native plants to grow at home

Coastal saltbush, murnong (aka yam daisy), vanilla lily, warrigal greens (aka native spinach) and appleberry. Read the article. Thanks for the heads up, Julie!

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Joint winners: our list of local cafes and others giving away their spent coffee grounds and the visit to Olwyn Smiley’s garden.

Joke of the week

Submitted by Olaf Falafel: I keep randomly shouting out “broccoli” and “cauliflower”. I think I might have florets.

Read more jokes.

New events – not cooking

Behind the bar – Oakridge Wines: Friday, 23rd August, 5.30-7.30pm; Nillumbik Cellars, Diamond Creek.

What: Oakridge Wines are a winery in Coldstream,. Taste their wines at Nillumbik Cellars – free to attend, free to taste, and no bookings required.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

Growing fruit and veggies in small spaces: Saturday, 31st August, 9.30am-12.30pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: What you will learn: which produce plants are suitable to grow in small areas; coping with shade and sun for produce growing; and how to make the most of any available space for growing produce. Presented by Angelo Eliades. Do you only have a small garden or no garden at all? Would you still like to grow your own food? This class will inspire you to get started. Topics will include fruit, vegetables and berries for small spaces, growing produce in pots and containers, maximising productivity in any size space and plant selection.
Cost: $50.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Growing mushrooms in your home and garden (2 day): Saturday, 5th October and Sunday, 6 October, both 9am-4.30pm; Bellfield Community Garden.

What: Join Burn City Mycology to learn and practice all aspects of mushroom cultivation, from the early stages of propagating mycelium, right through to how to fruit your mushrooms to get the best yields possible. You will also learn how to prepare and inoculate: liquid cultures & agar dishes to grow mycelium; grain spawn to significantly reduce the cost of cultivation; and bulk substrates including straw/sugarcane, sawdust, wood chips & logs so that you can grow a range of gourmet edible and medicinal mushrooms. You will take home a large amount of mushroom cultures and cultivation supplies including: 2x oyster mushroom grow kits (valued @ $30 each); mycelium cultures of oyster mushroom, turkey tail, shiitake, reishi & lion’s mane (valued at $25 each); sawdust spawn of king stropharia (valued at $40); grain spawn & mason jars (valued at $20 each); and specialised mushroom grow bags.
Cost: $400 ($350 concession).
Bookings: their website.

Am I hungry? Mindful eating program (8 sessions): 8 consecutive Tuesdays, starting 8th October, 7-8.30pm; Heidelberg Heights.

What: Join licensed Am I Hungry facilitator and dietitian (APD) Tess Gardiner (aka The Sustainability Dietitian) to understand mindful eating. Over the 8 sessions, you will learn: how to be in charge of your eating instead of feeling out of control; how to use hunger and satiety to guide your eating; how to eat the foods you love without overeating or guilt; how to balance eating for nourishment with eating for enjoyment; how to resolve mindless and emotional eating; how to discover joy in movement; and how to care for your body, mind, heart, and spirit.
Cost: $160.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Vegetable seedling propagation: Thursday, 17th October, 6.30-8.30pm; Edendale.

What: Early spring is the perfect time to propagate vegetable and herb seedlings to ensure a bumper summer harvest. Learn how easy it can be to grow your own vegetables from seed. Learn the theory behind propagating from seed and plant a variety of seeds to take home.
Cost: $10.
Bookings: TryBooking.

Produce in pots: Thursday, 17th October, 6.30-9pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: What you will learn: why edibles fail and what how to improve their chances of success; how to choose the right pots, potting mix, additives and mulches; and the best fruit and vegetables options for pots, and the best sustainable and organic maintenance techniques, including watering and feeding. Presented by Diana Cotter. Is your lettuce and coriander running to seed? Do you have beans that flower but don’t fruit, or flowers falling off your citrus? Or do your plants seem to die no matter you do? If any of this sounds familiar, or if you’re a complete novice, then this class will teach you how to avoid these issues. You’ll learn how potting mix and watering work, how plants react to different situations, and how the weather affects different plants differently. There will be a practical demonstration showing how to properly prepare potting mix, plant seeds and seedlings, and maintain the potential fruits (and vegetables!) of your labour.
Cost: $55.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Introduction to permaculture and urban agriculture (6 sessions): 6 consecutive Fridays, starting 18th October, 10am-2pm; Richmond.

What: The course will include sessions on: seasonal food growing; composting and worm farming; soil preparation; plant propagation; organic pest control; and animal husbandry. Participants will gain both practical skills and basic knowledge of sustainable gardening and permaculture principles.
Cost: $77 (concession $57).
Bookings: their website.

Herb and companion planting with Carol Henderson: Saturday, 19th October, 10am-3pm; CERES, Brunswick East.

What: What you will learn: improve your gardening skill; plant associations, annual and perennial herbs; and pests and diseases.
Presenter: Carol Henderson. This workshop will demystify companion planting by looking at the basic principles of how plants interact with each other, with the soil, and with the good and bad insects in your garden. You will discuss the permaculture concept of ‘plant guilds’ and how to diversify your garden to reduce pests and diseases. You will discuss how to propagate, position, plant, and maintain a number of different herb species.
Cost: $100.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Bee hive tour: Saturday, 19th October, 10.30am-12.30pm; Yarrambat.

What: Your tour, led by Nathan Stewart, a professional Doreen-based beekeeper from Maya ‘Xala Honey, will include suiting up in protective gear, lighting a bee smoker, and spending two hours as real life beekeeper. Initially, Nathan will give you some tips on what to look for inside a hive including how to spot the Queen and where to look to potentially witness the birth of a new worker bee. Then, together you will lift the lid of a busy hive, watch bees at work creating honey, pull out a frame of honey ready for extraction, and get up close with more than 100,000 bees! After the lid is closed, you will sample some of the honey direct from the hives while enjoying a refreshing honey tonic.
Cost: $75 (plus various packages for families).
Bookings: their website.

Open Cellars of the Artisan Hills: Saturday, 19th October and Sunday, 20th October, both 11am-5pm; various around Nillumbik.

What: Visit any or all of the family-owned wineries in Nillumbik, each with an individual style, where the grapes are hand-picked and hand-crushed by family and friends in the traditional style, with wines developed on site. This is a chance to sample wines at wineries not always open to the public. You will also find food to complement the wine, as well as live music and artworks from local artists at some venues. There is no entry fee, or tasting fee, at any of the venues. The participating wineries include: Buttermans Track, Easthill Estate, Giammarino Wines, Hildebrand Ridge Organic Vineyard, Kings of Kangaroo Ground, Massaros, Nillumbik Estate, Panton Hill Vineyard & Winery, Punch, Shaws Road Winery, Wedgetail Estate and Yarrambat Estate Vineyard.
Cost: Purchase wine and food as you want.
Bookings: just turn up.

Beeswax wraps: Tuesday, 22nd October, 10-11.30am; Box Hill South.

What: Beeswax wraps can be used to cover food and keep it fresh, plus they’re reusable and can be easily refreshed if the wax starts to wear.
Cost: $15.
Bookings: by phone (9898 8270).

New events – cooking

Cooking master class – ‘festive faves’: Thursday, 10th October, 7-9pm and again on Friday, 11th October, 7-9pm; Gourmet Living, Templestowe.

What: Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included. Menu: pesto pasta salad; honey citrus baked ham; and butterscotch mousse tart.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite (Thursday, Friday).

Fermentation veg ferments and cultured condiments: Saturday, 12th October, 10am-2pm; CERES, Brunswick East.

What: What you will learn: all about ferments; and how to ferment your own food. What you will get: recipes to take home; and samples of what you make. Presenter: Monique Miller. Focusing on sauerkraut, fermented condiments such as lacto-fermented salsa, apple sauce, and also a broader range of fermented vegetables & fruits.
Cost: $100.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Artisan pasta with seasonal herbs: Thursday, 17th October, 11am-midday; Diamond Valley Library.

What: Join Marie Vasallo as she prepares artisan fresh pasta in a variety of flavours (sun dried tomato and cracked pepper) and fresh herb pesto from the library’s kitchen garden.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.

Demystifying bread: Thursday, 17th October, 6.30-9pm; Park Orchards.

What: Nadine will demonstrate the technique of bread making and baking. Bring a container to take home your dough to bake at home. Suitable for beginners.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: their website.

Punjabi vegetarian food (N.W. India) with Taariq Hassan: Saturday, 19th October, 10am-midday; Lower Templestowe.

What: Learn how to make chappatti (wholemeal Indian Flat bread), daal tadka (spiced lentil stew), raita (natural yoghurt with chopped salad vegetables and seasoning) and seviyan (a milk-based dessert using short cut vermicelli). Printed recipes will be provided with suggested shops from which to obtain the ingredients.
Cost: $40.
Bookings: by phone (9850 3687) or email (

Pickling with Dayle: Saturday, 19th October, 2-4pm; Central Ringwood Community Centre.

What: Join Dayle Barnett on a journey of microbiotic cultures. Learn how to enhance your food to unlock new healing powers which strengthen your immune system and improve your overall health and well-being. This class will give you a background of fermentation, introduce you to the concept of pickling and fermenting vegetables as well as provide you with easy recipes and a hands-on opportunity to make sauerkraut to take home.
Cost: $25.
Bookings: by phone (9870 2602).

Vegan cooking Italian style: Sunday, 20th October, 10am-3pm; CERES, Brunswick East.

What: What you will learn: some new vegan dishes; and hands-on learning. Presenter: Michelle. You will be shown a selection of vegan dishes with an Italian flavour and you will finish with a feast. Menu: Napoli sauce; arancini; rosemary and olive focaccia; ricotta and spinach stuffed shells; and almond and cherry cake.
Cost: $100.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Summary of upcoming events – not cooking

Over the next week
Over the next month

Summary of upcoming events – cooking

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

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