Dec 072016

Want to buy some cherries and support Eltham High School drama group?

You will need to be quick – the deadline for ordering is 4pm on 9th December. They are selling premium cherries as a fundraiser for the Eltham High School drama group. All money raised will help them attend and perform at the Adelaide Fringe festival in 2017. Cost: 1kg box – $25; 2kg box – $45. Order by emailing Kim. She will then email you details for payment. Pick up of cherries will be at either Eltham High on Thursday, 15th December (3-5pm) or Going Green Solutions in Hurstbridge on Friday, 16th December.

Everything you want to know about urban agriculture but are afraid to ask

You might be aware that a major, two-day urban agriculture forum took place in November in Richmond. Well, Dana Thomson, our new Roving Reporter and healthAbility’s new Health Promotion Officer, was there and has written up some extensive notes. Thanks, Dana! As she says in her introduction: “Urban agriculture may include: vegetable and fruit growing; livestock raising (especially poultry); beekeeping, aquaculture, hydroponics and aquaponics; and value-adding (e.g. making preserves). It can take place on a variety of sites, such as: private gardens; land managed by private institutions / businesses, including rooftops and vertical gardens; privately-owned land, including vacant lots awaiting development; land owned by public / public-private utilities, such as VicTrack; publicly-owned land, including nature strips / verges, and street planter boxes; and schools, childcare centres, aged care facilities, universities, hospitals and other similar institutions.” The notes then cover: lessons learned about urban agriculture; how urban agriculture can potentially reduce poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition; learning from australian aboriginal agricultural practices; Melbourne’s food bowl at risk; accessing land for agriculture; role of local government and noting the food governance taskforce; the role of social enterprise in urban agriculture; and social and therapeutic horticulture. Read Dana’s notes.

If you prefer watching to reading, you can view a video of Costa Georgiadis’ take on the forum.

The local shops selling local products

In the words below, I am using ‘local’ to mean ‘in North East Melbourne’.

I am aware of 170 shops in North East Melbourne that sell at least one food product that was grown or made in North East Melbourne. That is a lot of shops.

But, of the 170, 130 appear to sell products from only one local food producer (with the other 40 selling products from multiple local food producers). And only 7 sell products from 5 or more local food producers.

Three important points arise:

  1. There are lots of local outlets for local food (e.g. the 170 shops).
  2. Hardly any of the local food producers are in more than a tiny fraction of these shops.
  3. Most of the shops selling local food only sell a small amount.

To illustrate the scale of the opportunity: Bolton Street Deli & Liquor, Eltham stocks products from 21 local food producers. If all 170 shops did the same, that would be 3,600 (170 * 21) ‘offerings’. This is more than 10 times the current number of ‘offerings’ (280).

In passing, of the 6 shops selling products from 5 or more local food producers, 5 are in the Local Food Directory (the 7th declined, for unspecified reasons). They are:

One less source of free sawdust

Stuart Rodda has written in to say that Charles Sandford Woodturning has temporarily suspended its offer of free bags of sawdust. The local resources page has been updated to reflect this.

Olive herb

Mala Plymin has written in to tell us about a herb that she has recently discovered that “tastes amazing“. The olive herb apparently has a pickled olive flavour. Mala buys hers at the Pepper Tree Place Nursery in Coburg and you can also buy the plants from Green Harvest.

Rats or foxes?

foxI happened to mention to Chris Kent the other day that, once again, I was getting ready to fight with the rats for ownership over my rockmelons. He asked if I was sure that it was rats and said that, in his case, it was foxes. Furthermore, he has photographic proof (see picture)!

From Googling, it appears that foxes, like dogs, are actually omnivorous rather than carnivorous and, indeed, according to Wikipedia “fruit can amount to 100% of their diet in autumn“.

Mac’s tip of the week

Admit your broad beans have come to their end … time to remove them and plant leafy crops like basil and lettuce to make use of the nitrogen that they have supplied. How much self-seeded parsley do you need? [Ed: I think this is what is known as a rhetorical question.] Time to cut back / rip out and use that space. Until next time, remember: dirty hand are good hands.

Click here to view all of Mac’s tips.

Are you eating genetically modified food?

As Heather Eliott said on Facebook, Choice has just published a straightforward summary of the genetically modified products currently available, or in development, in Australia.

Eltham Farmers’ Market, quesadilla and leftovers

In partnership with local chefs, healthAbility has been running a series of quarterly cooking demonstrations at Eltham Farmers’ Market to show how easy it is to plan and prepare quick and simple healthy meals which can be made at home using fresh, seasonal produce. At 10.45am at the 11th December market, Duang Tengtrirat, from Real Food Catering, will be demonstrating how to make quesadilla. Read Duang’s quesadilla recipe.

A major ingredient of the quesadilla recipe is ‘leftover veggies’. As some of you will know, leftover veggies is something that Duang has been thinking a lot about lately. Here are her four top tips:

  1. As soon as you put food into a container to store in the fridge, stick a note ‘EAT ME FIRST’ to it. Then use this first either as a re-heat or re-purpose.
  2. When preparing to put leftovers away, make it easy to use them again. For example, remove cooked chicken from the bone so it’s ready to use.
  3. When ready to use leftovers, think of its ‘re-purpose’ use. How can you breathe new life into something from yesterday or the day before?
  4. Look around to see what you have in your pantry that can work as ‘supporting casts.’ For example, in your pantry: rice, pasta, wrap; or, in the fridge: cheese, sauces dressings.

New events

Become a junior chocolatier

What: In a 45 minute ‘parent-free zone’, children aged 6–12 years can learn from their chocolatiers how to make their very own chocolate creations. Includes personalised badge, chef’s hat and apron, graduation certificate plus take home three chocolate creations to enjoy.
When: Tuesday, 10th January; Wednesday, 11th January; Tuesday, 17th January; Wednesday, 18th January; and Tuesday, 24th January. In each case, 6 45 minute sessions a day at 9am, 10am, 11am, midday, 1.30pm and 2.30pm.
Where: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Yarra Glen.
Cost: $40.
Enquiries: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie by phone (9730 2777) or email.
Bookings: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Beekeeping workshop

What: What you will learn: bee behaviour; the various major items that make up a bee hive and how to construct them; and the major tasks in hive management. What you will get: a wooden beehive frame that will have beeswax foundation inserted as part of the workshop; and a $5 discount on the book Bee AgSkills (normally $27.50, $22.50 with discount). There will be live bees and honeycomb to look at in a secure exhibition cabinet and a discussion of bee behaviour and hive management. The major items that make up a hive and their construction will be discussed. The equipment a beekeeper needs to work bees will also be reviewed. The major topics discussed will be: establishing a hive; understanding the tasks to be carried out in Spring; how to go about robbing and extracting honey; and swarm control. Participants will be limited to 8 to maintain an informal interactive format.
When: Saturday, 21st January, 9-11am.
Where: Bee Sustainable, Brunswick East.
Cost: $65.
Enquiries: Bee Sustainable by phone (9939 7301) or email.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Victorian cider & pork festival

What: Set amongst the trees at the Rochford Wines estate, this two-day festival showcases the best ciders from Victoria and around the country and the tastiest pork dishes from Melbourne’s leading chefs. Make the most of live entertainment, cider tastings, cider and pork master classes. At least 15 local, boutique cider producers will be in attendance, including: St Ronan’s Cider, Napoleone Cider, Punt Road Cider, Batlow Cider Co, Square Keg Cider, Hills Cider, Custard & Co, Daylesford Cider Co, Flying Brick, Sidekick Cider, and Young Henrys. The beer producers will include: Stone & Wood , Colonial Brewing Co, Hargreaves Hill Brewing and Punt Road Brewing Co. Masterclasses held over both days of the festival will enable visitors to make the most of the cider tastings and learn about varying ranges of ciders. Event-goers will have to opportunity to attend a Q&A session with leading cider makers and witness a range of cooking demos by leading Melbourne chefs, including: Jess Pryles, Ben O’Donghue and Robert Murphy.
When: Monday, 23rd January and Tuesday, 24th January, both 11am-7pm.
Where: Rochford Wines, Coldstream.
Cost: $40 (includes 1 schooner of cider or beer).
Enquiries: festival organisers by email.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Preserving know how: making bottled fruit, jams, pickles and relishes

What: Learn how to preserve fruit and veggies safely, using a variety of techniques. These techniques can be used on most fruit and veggies so that you learn to make your own preserves, with no artificial additives and nasty numbers. No preserving background is assumed as you go through the science of how to prevent food spoilage using the preserving methods of bottling, jam-making, pickling and making relishes. Dehydrating is also demonstrated. You will discuss the jars and lids to use, safe storage and use. The workshop is fully hands-on, where you are involved from the processes from start to finish. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small (new) jars of the 4 preserves made on the day; and tastings of other preserves made by My Green Garden.
When: Tuesday, 31st January, 10am-1.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $70.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the rest of December

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

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