Jan 042017
 

Was Montmorency the fourth ever Australian food swap?

In the last newsletter (December 14), I asked whether Montmorency was the second ever Australian food swap (after Greensborough). Well, Julie French, erstwhile organiser of the Montmorency food swap, has written in to say that the answer is definitely ‘no’: “There were other food swaps operating in Melbourne prior to the Greensborough one. CERES had one operating in 2008, or probably a lot earlier through their Urban Orchard project, and there was at least another one going around the same time that I was aware of, in the Moreland area I think. Montmorency had a Food Growers Group operating between 2007 and 2009 (started by yours truly) that met monthly to discuss food gardening and share seedlings and (occasionally) excess produce. The Montmorency swap started following a public meeting in November 2009 to discuss Transition Towns. At that meeting, a number of key interest areas were identified, and small groups were formed to discuss what actions could be taken to progress those interests. Food was, of course, a topic of great interest to a number of people. A small group met (at my place) to talk about what some of the issues were under this broad topic, and found they were myriad and quite overwhelming. There had been some press about food swaps in inner Melbourne and Rachel Bishop, who had started the Greensborough swap, explained how easy it was to get one of these swaps going. It was decided this was a course of action that could be taken immediately without the need for too much planning or resources. Rachel lent us some signage for our first one, which was held at Montmorency Primary School on Sunday 26 September, 2010.

Julie has kindly submitted two recipes for our online recipe database: zucchini & tomato slice and zucchini, carrot and hazelnut cake. That brings our zucchini recipes to a total of 16 and our Julie French recipes to a total of 5.”

Who says milk bars are dead? (cont)

In the last newsletter, I also gave a link to an article in The Weekly Review about a milk bar that has been turned into a cafe (see article right). The cafe is called Weidlich Food Store, it is located in Eltham North and I paid it a visit over the Christmas period. The food I chose (modestly called a spinach and ricotta roll but actually a lot more complicated and exotic than that) and the drink (a banana smoothie) were both yummy, the ambience was good and the service was excellent (and they have free wifi). But the reason for mentioning the cafe again is that there are two interesting ideas underlying its development which have potential wider applicability. The first idea is the placement of a cafe in a housing area rather than in a shopping centre – for a number of people, it will therefore be their closest cafe. The second idea is the potential over time for developing the place into something of a community hub. Arguably, The Third Place Cafe in Wollert is trying to do something similar. If you know of any other cafes doing similar things, email me.

Get Fresh Meats are no more

Get Fresh Meats, who had a shop in Eltham and were also a stallholder at Eltham Farmers’ Market, have apparently ceased trading. Park Orchards-based Yummaz have also stopped being a stallholder at markets.

Some local food organisations in the news

That’s Amore Cheese and Montifiore Cheese both featured in the 14th December Whittlesea edition of The Leader.
Shillinglaw Cafe and Restaurant featured in the Diamond Valley edition.

To browse through previous articles, have a look at our new collation of local organisations in the news.

Some more videos of local food producers

Fresh from the editing room.

David Stutt (Hildebrand Grove) from Cottles Bridge:

And George Apted (Shaws Road Winery) from Arthurs Creek:

That brings the total number of local food producers for whom there are videos up to 23, of which 8 have been produced by Local Food Connect. Have a look at our collation of all 23 videos.

Some guidelines for storing summer produce

In the latest Home Harvest FEASTival newsletter, Duang Tengtrirat, from Real Food Catering, provided a few tips on how to store your summer fruits and vegetables so that they last longer and taste their best. Keep your veggies cool. The fridge is your friend – know how to store your produce.

Rule #1: Keep fruit and veggies separated. Most fruits and berries emit ethylene gas which can cause your vegetables to spoil and change flavour. Keep them in separate drawers if refrigerated.

Rule #2: Bag them first. Loosely bag or wrap greens, broccoli, capsicum, cucumber etc before placing them in the fridge. Keep sweetcorn in its husks until ready to use.

Rule #3: Do not store root vegetables with their greens. The greens will take moisture out of the roots so cut them off first and store them separately.

Rule #4: Remove rubber bands, twisties or any other things that choke your veggies. Store them without any tightening objects for better circulation.

Rule #5: As a rule it is best NOT to wash veggies before storing because extra water creates dampness which is not ideal. (However, washing lettuce, spinach and salad greens makes it easy to use them. So, wash them and make sure to dry them before storing. This will make it easy to make salads and you will eat more of them.)

Click here to read various other tips contributed by newsletter readers.

George the Farmer, DirtGirl and Costa the Garden Gnome

George the Farmer’s stated aim is to teach 0-8 year-old children in Australia about how food is produced. Watch their first video (which is about potatoes) or – better still – get your children to watch it.

DirtGirl and Costa the Garden Gnome don’t appear to have a clear aim(!). But here is one of their better posts (on the subject of gutter gardens) and here is their YouTube channel.

And, finally, here is the YouTube channel of the person who arguably started the recent trend of singing about vegetables, Charlie Mgee.

New events

The events below include all the February events that I’m aware of plus those January events that I have become aware of since the 14th December newsletter.

Gardening with kids

What: What you will learn: how to grow fresh produce in your own backyard and have heaps of fun doing it; how common household items can be reused in the garden; and how ‘good bugs’ can help you to look after your veggie patch. What you will get: seasonal vegetable seeds and/or seedlings to grow at home; detailed course notes; and booklet of gardening ideas and activities to try at home. Presented by Nicole Griffiths. Growing food is a great way for children to connect with the natural environment and to develop an appreciation for the food that they eat. It also happens to be heaps of fun. In this hands-on class, you will explore some easy and inexpensive ways to grow food at home, regardless of whether you have an acre of land or just a windowsill. Children (and grown-ups) will get their hands dirty with practical gardening and craft activities using recycled and re-purposed objects. By the end of the class, each student will have made a variety of goodies to grow and use in their gardens at home. The class is suitable for children aged 5 to 10 and children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Please note that the class cost covers both a child and 1 accompanying adult.
When: Tuesday, 17th January, 10am-midday.
Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen.
Cost: $35.
Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

‘The mini gardener’ summer veggie/herb garden workshop

What: Keep the kids entertained with this fun, fully facilitated, workshop. All materials provided. Suitable for primary school aged children. Boys and girls will make their own layered chocolate brownie jar to take home, bake and enjoy. The recipe is included.
When: Wednesday, 18th January, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Rivers of Yarrambat.
Cost: $27.
Enquiries: Rivers of Yarrambat by phone (9436 3215) or email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Permablitz 195 (Box Hill Central Shopping Centre)

What: This is a blitz with a difference – they will be helping The Neighbourhood Project beautify the Box Hill Mall area with wicking beds full of edibles. Adding beds to this currently under-used space will help promote local community and spread awareness of ways to grow and share local food. Apart from beautification, the project is an opportunity to demonstrate the practicality and benefit of green urban space that helps to bridge the disconnection between people and their food sources. This is to be the first such project in Box Hill, with similar initiatives to be rolled out in local community centres – including verge plantings. Tasks for the day: building 6 wicking beds; and planting them out. Workshops: how to make a wicking bed; propagation; and companion planting.
When: Saturday, 21st January, 10am-3pm.
Where: Box Hill Central Shopping Centre.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Permablitz Melbourne by email.
Bookings / Further information: Permablitz website.

Edendale young farmers

What: A small group of children, 9- to 12-years-old, will have the opportunity to help Edendale’s farmers with the morning animal chores and experience what it is like to be a farmer. They will get up close to many of the farm animals and help in the daily care and feeding of these animals. The children will join in with a range of activities, including: letting out and feeding the poultry, collecting eggs and cleaning waterers; goat milking demonstration and feeding the goats; pony poo pickup and feeding the worm farms; hay feeding sheep, lambs, and Taffy the Jersey calf; and handling the guinea pigs and cleaning their cages. The children will need to come dressed in suitable clothing including long pants and solid footwear such as an old pair of joggers. A hat, raincoat, sunscreen and water bottle will also be required. A light morning tea will be provided. The children should understand that they are not here to play with the animals but are participating in important farm chores.
When: Wednesday, 25th January, 9am-midday.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $30.
Enquiries: Edendale by phone (9433 3711) or email.
Bookings / Further information: Edendale website.

‘The mini chef’ layered chocolate brownie jar workshop

What: Keep the kids entertained with this fun, fully facilitated, workshop. All materials provided. Suitable for primary school aged children. Boys and girls will plant up their very own veggie & herb bowl to take home. In the months to come, they will be able to harvest and eat their own homegrown produce.
When: Wednesday, 25th January, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Rivers of Yarrambat.
Cost: $27.
Enquiries: Rivers of Yarrambat by phone (9436 3215) or email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Preserving the Summer bounty: bottled fruit, jams, pickles and relishes

What: What you will learn: how to select and re-use suitable jars and how to sterilise them; how to use standard kitchen equipment to make preserves, without needing to buy specialist items; and how to bottle fruit, and make jams, pickles and relishes and the science behind the techniques. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small (new) jars of the 4 preserves made on the day; Preserving Basics booklet, authored by My Green Garden; and tastings of other preserves made by My Green Garden. Learn how to preserve the abundance of summer fruits 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 delicious 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 or chutneys using seasonal produce. Dehydrating will also be demonstrated. You will cover 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.
When: Thursday, 2nd February and Saturday, 4th February, both 10am-1.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $70.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

Water-wise gardening

What: What you will learn: how to assess your site’s potential; different methods of water capture, storage and usage; and how to maximse the impact of each drop that you collect. Presented by Diana Cotter. Gardens need water to survive and thrive, which can pose a real problem in a country as dry as ours. However, with a little bit of DIY ingenuity, you can get the most out of your plants even if it hasn’t rained in weeks. This class aims to give you a thorough understanding of how to garden effectively and efficiently with our most precious resource: water. As well, you’ll be given an overview of the many options available to manage storm water, from developing you soil through to creating rain gardens, which will help you to implement a number of different water-saving strategies in order to better create a sustainable and beautiful garden.
When: Thursday, 2nd February, 6.30-9pm.
Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen.
Cost: $45.
Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

Natural pest control with companion planting

What: What you will learn: learn which plants to grow together, and which ones not to; learn how to solve many common garden problems naturally; and learn how to construct ‘plant guilds’ (groups of plants that grow much better together). Presented by Angelo Eliades. With companion planting, by knowing which plants to grow together and which ones not to, you can grow stronger, healthier and more productive plants, improve soil quality, and reduce pests and diseases in your garden. Learn which companion plants to add to your garden to solve many common garden problems naturally, and find out how to construct ‘plant guilds’ (groups of plants that grow much better together) for more abundant harvests.
When: Saturday, 4th February, 9.30am-midday.
Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen.
Cost: $45.
Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

Cooking club

What: Salads – share recipes and conversation.
When: Tuesday, 7th February, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Whittlesea Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Whittlesea Library by phone (9716 3028) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Introduction to beekeeping at home

What: Learn about keeping bees in your own backyard. Join Peter Dyer, from Backyard Honey, as he shares his many years of experience as a bee keeper in Melbourne. Peter will walk you through the essential information you should know before considering keeping bees at home. You will also have a chance to watch live bees in action in Peter’s demonstration hive. This session is designed for beginners so no prior knowledge is required.
When: Wednesday, 8th February, 6.30-8pm.
Where: Box Hill Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Why do bees matter?

What: Learn about life in a bee hive with this demonstration by expert urban apiarists, Backyard Honey. The session will include a live bee display, pure raw unheated honey tastings and expert apiary advice about bee-keeping and planting for healthy bees. It will highlight the important role bees play in agriculture and pollination and will include: life in a healthy bee hive; the important role of bees in crop pollination and food security; and gardening for healthy bees. Complete the experience with a tasting platter of honey paired to The Craft and Co’s very own housemade wine, cheese and prosciutto.
When: Thursday, 9th February, 6-9pm.
Where: The Craft & Co, Collingwood.
Cost: $75.
Enquiries: Tarsha by phone (9417 4755) or email.
Bookings: Sticky Tickets.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Mouth watering sweet and savoury preserves

What: What you will learn: how to bottle fruits and vegetables for future use; how to make jams and pickles; and how to select and re-use suitable jars, and how to sterilise them. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small jars of all the preserves prepared on the day; tastings; and Preserving Basics booklet. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. Learn how to preserve fruit and veggies safely, using a variety of techniques. No matter whether you have a produce garden and want to do something with your excess or whether you want to make the most of the seasonal abundance at its freshest, learning how to preserve extends the taste and value of your home-grown produce. No preserving background is assumed as you go through techniques on how to prevent food spoilage using bottling, jam making, pickling and dehydrating. As well, there will be a hands-on component which will include making jam with frozen berries, a Middle-Eastern inspired vegetable pickle, and bottled seasonal fruit.
When: Thursday, 9th February, 6.30-9pm.
Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen.
Cost: $45.
Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

Preserving know-how: ways with tomatoes

What: What you will learn: how to preserve the seasonal bounty of tomatoes in a variety of different methods, including bottling, drying, sauces and savoury condiments; how to select and re-use suitable jars and how to sterilise them; and the basic science behind different preserving techniques so that your preserves remain safe to eat. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; Preserving Basics booklet, authored by My Green Garden; small jars of the preserves made on the day: passata, peeled tomatoes, ketchup, chutney and pickles; and tastings of other tomato preserves. Growing tomatoes can be incredibly rewarding and their productivity can leave you with a glut that demands to be turned into delicious sauces and preserves. And even if you don’t grow them, you can always make the most of the seasonal varieties available over this period to make your own bottles and jars to last you through the winter. In this workshop, you will cover different preserving techniques, including bottling, dehydrating, making sauces, passata, pickles and chutneys, as well as some traditional Italian techniques with tomatoes. You will get to taste and then take home all of the preserves made on the day.
When: Satruday, 11th February and Wednesday, 15th February, both 10am-1.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $70.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

All things chocolate

What: Join Bruce, from Chocolatier Australia, to learn about our favourite food. Enjoy plenty of tastings!
When: Monday, 13th February, 11am-midday.
Where: Rosanna Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Rosanna Library by phone (9459 6171).
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

DIY food dehydrating workshop

What: Learn the basics of how to dehydrate foods to have on hand all year round. Includes tomatoes, apples, pears, fruit roll ups and more, including tips on where to get bulk/seconds, local, seasonal fruit and veg. Presented by Lucinda Flynn. Bookings essential, by phone or email.
When: Tuesday, 14th February, 7-9pm.
Where: Going Green Solutions, Hurstbridge.
Cost: free.
Enquiries / Bookings: Going Green Solutions by phone (9718 0126) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Container gardening

What: What you will learn: care and maintenance of potted produce; how to make the most of any space using pots; and using combinations of pots for great effects. Presented by Diana Cotter. Are you a renter and not allowed to dig, or are you short on space in your outdoors? Many people don’t have the space for a traditional garden of their own but would still like to be able to grow some ornamental plants, herbs and veggies and maybe even some fruit. If this is you, don’t despair! In this class, you will learn how to grow plants in both simple and more elaborate containers, as well as learning everything you need to know about potting media, fertilising, seasonal variations and how to care for your container-grown plants.
When: Thursday, 16th February, 6.30-9pm.
Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen.
Cost: $45.
Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

Italian savoury preserves

What: What you will learn: how to use vegetables to make savoury preserves, Italian style; how to select suitable jars and how to sterilise them; and how to use bottling techniques to preserve sauces, ready to eat. What you will get: jars of all the preserves made on the day; recipes for the techniques covered in the workshop; tastings of preserves previously made; and vegetables prepared on the day to take home and continue the processes learnt. Italians have perfected the art of the antipasto platter, with delicious savoury pickled vegetables often made with fresh organic veggies from their own gardens. You will use many of the vegetables from the home of My Green Garden to create preserves done in the Italian style. Then you will make a tomato pasta sauce that can be preserved for future use – fast-food the Italian way! A jar of everything you make is taken home by each participant, as well as some vegetables prepped on the day to continue some processes at home.
When: Friday, 17th February, 10am-1pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $75.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

Summer fruit tree maintenance

What: What you will learn: how to prune to keep trees to a manageable size; how to prune to maximise fruit production in the coming season; and keeping espaliered shapes in check. Watch and ask questions of Angelo Eliades, as he prunes both traditionally shaped trees and espaliered varieties. Convention had us pruning deciduous fruit trees in winter but now the thinking is swinging to doing it straight after fruiting, in late summer or autumn. Techniques are slightly different, so it is wise to see the pruning in action on actual trees, all at Bulleen Art & Garden.
When: Saturday, 18th February, 9.30am-midday.
Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen.
Cost: $45.
Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

Liquid fertiliser workshop

What: Learn how to make your own liquid fertiliser using readily available ingredients.
When: Sunday, 19th February, 8.30-10am.
Where: St Johns Riverside Community Garden, Heidelberg.
Cost: $2.
Enquiries: Katrina Philip by phone (0422 735213) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Love food, hate waste

What: Learn to avoid food waste and use left overs more creatively in their love food, hate waste cooking demonstrations and tips sessions with local chef Duang, from Real Food Catering.
When: Tuesday, 21st February, 11.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Diamond Valley Library, Greensborough.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Dione Fisher by phone (9434 3809) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Preparing for the Winter harvest

What: What you will learn: crop rotation after summer veggies; growing common and uncommon winter veggies; and seed sowing techniques for winter veggies. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. It might seem a bit strange to be thinking about winter vegetables while the heat is still with us, but now is the time to start planning. This workshop will go through soil rejuvenation after your summer harvest, types of veggies that grow well over the cooler months and seed sowing in anticipation for planting.
When: Thursday, 23rd February, 6.30-9pm.
Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen.
Cost: $45.
Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

Beekeeping

What: Sue Zuber, from The Beekeepers Club, will talk about the wonder of keeping bees in your own backyard – the legal requirements as well as the practical aspect. She will cover both the basic equipment and the more advanced needs.
When: Saturday, 25th February, 11am-12.30pm.
Where: Whittlesea Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Whittlesea Library by phone (9716 3028) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Passata making with Monique Miller

What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally.
When: Sunday, 26th February, 10am-4pm.
Where: Ceres.
Cost: $75.
Enquiries: Ceres by phone (9389 0100).
Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

That’s still a lot of chocolate!

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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